Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews with a heavy emphasis on San Diego. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: The Northwest Cartoon Cookery

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, January 25, 1997

Review of The Northwest Cartoon Cookery, with a recipe for Joe Sacco’s “What the Poor Eat”.

PublisherStarhead Comix
Year1995
Length26 pages
Book Rating7

Cooking with comic books has got to be the new in-thing of the twenty-first century. Featuring top cartoonists of the Pacific Northwest (that’s what the copy says) this is a great read that also has great recipes. And since these recipes are designed to be easy enough to make on a cartoonist’s schedule, and cheap enough for a cartoonist’s income, or lack thereof.

The book starts off on target with J.R. Williams’ Black Bean Quesadillas and the Secrets of Life, Death, and Salsa, with a salsa recipe that’s as simple as they get: tomatoes, jalapeños, salt. It ends on Mark Zingarelli’s inside-back-cover Holiday Hot-Pants Chili, narrated by Eatin’ In with Eddie. Holiday Hot-Pants Chili “ain’t like yer Momma’s recipe, so hold onto yer shorts.”

Ellen Forney’s Whole Wheat Soda Bread (“the dough should be soft but not gucky”) includes a step-by-step guide to folding your cloth napkins into fleur de lis. Gotta be cloth: “folded paper towels look like shit.” Meanwhile, Roberta Gregory’s Mexican Meatball Soup ends up covering the ground from dinner to breakfast and back again. Mexican food is good for you, as long as you leave out the canned orange grease.

In “God’s Own Chicken Wings”, Michael Dougan explains the anatomy of the chicken wing—which bones are edible—and offers a pictorial guide to mastering the eating of wings. Meanwhile, Donna Barr’s Northwest Gotcha Chowder starts off getting shanghaid by Korean (is that a mixed metaphor?) clamdiggers at Puget Sound.

Joe Sacco’s “Decline and Fall” is an optimistic look at potatoes and ketchup. Holly Tuttle’s Dutch Babies is a good comic, and a decent recipe, except that it’s missing about a cup of whole milk. The cartoon points it out to us, but doesn’t tell us how much, and the recipe doesn’t list it at all.

Jim Woodring describes how to farm garden snails in detail. His accompanying text, with phrases like “Ensnorttlement and crayle! Turn the flow pad of snot my way, dad!” is probably the most unique piece in the book.

Drug jokes: Shary Flenniken shows us how to smoke salmon for her Smoked Salmon Pasta, and part of Cat Kinney’s PC or Not PC Spaghetti warns us to “Be sure you know which bag is the oregano and which bag is your stash.” PC or Not PC depends on whether you choose the ‘Vegan Friends’ option or ‘Fiery Death’, which requires that you make racial remarks of dubious validity.

In between, Dennis Eichhorn’s Duck Blood Soup is as graphic as you can get, and is not for any young fans of Donald.

My favorite piece in the book is Mark Zingarelli’s book-end, Eatin’ In With Eddie, a description of a Chili recipe that brings nostalgic memories of watching those holiday parades and sporting events on Thanksgiving, and the odd has-been star spots in between. It’s a hot no-bean chili (“an’ for heavens sake cuz, don’t add beans to this glorious concoction”) with a real Mexican flair from the added cocoa. Don’t forget to use gloves when handling the chiles!

I highly recommended this cookbook. You’ll probably need to haunt the comic book stores in your area, or Roberta Gregory has been known to have a few copies at her convention appearances.

Joe Sacco’s What the Poor Eat

  • Handful of black beans,
  • 4-5 medium potatoes,
  • one onion,
  • salt,
  • pepper,
  • ketchup.
  1. Soak beans for a few hours.
  2. Boil everything on high 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain.
  4. Apply salt, pepper, ketchup to taste.
  5. The rest of the recipes are more serious than that.

The Northwest Cartoon Cookery

My cost: $2.75

Recommendation: Quirky. You know you want it.