I love cooking, and all things food-related, but I have a hard time with recipe books. Mostly because I have a hard time following recipes, but also because it’s hard to find a really really good one. A book came across my desk recently, however, that got me excited about recipes again, and that is The Art of Living According to Joe Beef.
For those of you who don’t live in Montreal (or follow restaurant openings there, which I imagine is most people), Joe Beef is a restaurant in that French-Canadian city that, over the last few years, has done much to reinvent modern Canadian cuisine. The food is hugely meaty, laden with unfashionably fatty things like foie gras, lard and butter, and completely unapologetic. In fact, the book’s authors, Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson, openly delight in the pleasures of food and all that comes with it. For example, their recipe for “Spaghetti Lobster-Homard” includes the following aside: “If you don’t want to look at the live lobster as it boils, you are probably someone who likes to have sex with the light off. That’s okay.”
Not only does the book cover Joe Beef’s most successful recipes (from the above, which is relatively tame, to more adventurous dishes like “Cornflake Eel Nuggets” and “Chicken Skin Tacos”), it also delves into such useful information as how to build your own smoker and a food-centric history of Montreal. And while I may never actually make any of the above (or build a smoker in my backyard), it makes for some incredibly compelling–and appetite-enhancing–reading.
In the foreword to the cookbook, Momofuku‘s David Chang, who says Joe Beef is his favorite restaurant in the world, puts it plainly: “As far as this book: I don’t think anyone can replicate what these guys do. But it’s worth trying.”