Nadia G’s first cookbook Bitchin’ Kitchen Cookbook: Rock Your Kitchen–And Let the Boys Clean Up the Mess is genius. Pure and absolute genius and received a rare five out of five wooden spoons rating from me.
When I heard that she had another one out called Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble cookbook, published by Random House of Canada, I had to check it out.
The recipe reviews started off well with her Pierogies w/ Fixins. Very tasty, challenging and worth the effort.
What did not start off well for me was the foreword by Guy Fieri. You would have thought this book was supposed to be about himself! He did not write about Nadia G. until the fifth paragraph. The article was only six. I did not like that at all. It made me start off on the wrong foot with this cookbook.
Her Creamy Cream-Less Tomato-Pepper Soup was… disappointing. The recipe was confusing when it was meant to be streamlined and the soup was bland. Thankfully mascarpone cheese saved it.
This is when I began to notice mixed messages in the cookbook. There is a note by Hans, the scantily clad food correspondent, at the end of the recipe that says, “Consume no more than 1 tbsp of oil a day.” Yet the recipes throughout the cookbook are FULL of fat! I know he is not Nadia G. but still, I don’t get it.
I had such issues with the Split Pea and Bacon Soup, not knowing how much liquid to keep adding to it to get the right consistency, which ended up being wrong, according to Reg who loves this kind of soup but not this version.
I thought it was interesting Nadia G. had a “Depression Desserts” section that had a serious feminist story and idea behind it. From the oppression of housewives to liberation and now the “super moms” marketing kick where now women are expecting to do all that cooking, cleaning, caretaking and have full time jobs at the same time.
As much as I appreciate and found this chapter intro fascinating (I really did!), it felt odd to go from “life ain’t a laundry detergent commercial where we spend our days running through lavender fields in slow motion” to a recipe for Inverted Lemon Meringue Pie. It ends with Nadia G writing, “Whenever I get overwhelmed, I just take a deep breath and try to find my happy place….Then I remember I don’t have a happy place.”
The connection between the feminist movement and depression left me, well, depressed. And I felt a veil of disillusionment and sadness fall on me as I went through it.
We go from that chapter to “happiness = bacon”. I could not switch gears very quickly, I will be honest. Yet I made her Soft Little Breads w/ bacon + onions and they were good but very doughy and unnecessarily rich. There are much healthier ways to make these which got me all confused because of the whole 1 tbsp of fat thing a day comment.
Another example of this confusing message was in Chapter 3: Veg-Head Extravaganza. Explaining food myths, this one about carbs she writes, “Myth 2 – Carbs make you fat. No, fat makes you fat, you *newrdz!” The chapter was to inspire people to make vegetarian meals once in a while but again, I started to feel guilty for eating the foods she had written recipes for. Her chocolate cheese brownie recipe is FILLED with fat!
Her Spicy Chicken Barley Risotto with Dried Currants and Smoked Gouda is in Chapter 14 which is dedicated to makeover meals. A recipe to go wild with spice and get a Bitchin’ Kitchen makeover. She equates doing so with a clothing makeover and criticizes women for wearing mom jeans and the damage that does to people who have to look at them. As comedic as that is supposed to be, it just felt out of place and truly mean-spirited.
Was her barley risotto really a makeover for roasted chicken? Considering it was an underwhelming dish, I just do not see how this re-invented the roasted chicken breast. And as much as I agree that we should have clothes that make us look fabulous, the bitchy fashionista tone really annoyed me.
Her “quick and dirty” Bachelor Pad Thai is in Chapter 15 dedicated to back-of-the-fridge bachelorfest cooking. It is about helping guys who do not know how to cook take ingredients they probably have and make something tasty with it. I like the idea behind it but what bachelor is going to have a balsamic vinegar that is a minimum of 7 years old. I don’t even know how old my balsamic vinegar is!
I have been dreading writing this review. Nadia G. is a hero of mine! I wanted to love this book. I wanted it to make me laugh, seduce me with its luscious guilt-free recipes and take me on wild fantasies of all the naughty things I can do with food. In the end it made me feel guilty, depressed and less than inspired. None of the recipes wowed me and I felt the cookbook was filled with mixed messages.
The photography in this cookbook is excellent but I wanted more edge. My favourites are the removed brass knuckles in the Zia Mini’s pizza dough page and Nadia G. setting fire to marshmallows over a stack of flaming books in a library. Love it! These photographs were fun and wild but the majority of them could, well… have been in a Martha Stewart cookbook! More domestic than I was expecting.
How on earth do I rate a cookbook like this one? First, if you love Nadia G., you will probably still get a kick out this cookbook. It is totally unique and original. There is no other foodie out there like her and she is a rock star. There is just something fundamentally different than her last cookbook. It just is not as much fun and the food I made definitely not as delicious. I had high expectations which I think has skewed my perspective so I am not going to rate it, it would not be fair.
I am just going to conclude that I sense a shift in the foodie force and it is not going where I wanted it to go or ended up being as delicious as I was hoping it would be. I hated writing this review but I have to tell the truth. And the truth sucks.
Cathy Olliffe-Webster says
Thanks so much for your honesty, Suzie. I hate it when people gush over books that are terrible.
Sometimes it’s hard for a great celebrity to translate themselves into a book. What makes them great in person (Nadia’s bitchin’ attitude, wit and facial expressions etc. on TV) gets lost in mediocre writing. In black and white it may come off as too harsh, sarcastic and misinterpreted, missing the mark as they say. If it left you feeling depressed and guilty then something in writing of the book has to be off, after all the whole point of lovely food and cooking is to leave us feeling content and satisfied.
Thanks for your heartfelt honesty, based on the recipes you bravely tested, I know this would not be a suitable cookbook for me, I could just see the look on my family’s faces serving up some of these dishes lol…On that note, I did reserve a copy at the library for curiousity’s sake. I can tell you put a ton of heart and soul into testing this book and the final review, that in itself is alotta love for the Nadia G.
Debra She Who Seeks says
I often notice that when someone hits The Big Time, they start pushing out “product” (whatever that is) at a very fast pace, presumably to cash in as much as possible while theie celebrity and fame lasts. Because we all know it only lasts 15 minutes! So their first “products” are super wonderful but the quickly pushed out, cash in on the fame, subsequent products are crap. Often they’re actually prepared by someone else and the celebrity’s name is just stuck on it to sell, sell, SEll, baby!
Perhaps that is what happened here.
Suzie Ridler says
Thanks Cathy! It was a hard post to write.
Ava, the depression chapter mixed with feminism was so confusion. I see Nadia G. as an empowered woman. hearing she has no happy place… Perhaps it was just sarcasm but I didn’t feel that. Yes, some of the recipes have very unusual flavours and are not kid-friendly. Definitely check out the book (literally) and tell me what you think. I did put my heart into this review, I am glad it shows. I wanted so much to like it.
Debra, a part of me wondered how much Nadia G. was in this cookbook in comparison to the last one. It sounds silly but it’s like her spirit wasn’t in it.
Now I KNOW there are people who are going to think I am crazy, that I am analyzing it too much and that is fine. I want you to love this cookbook if you do. I just… can’t.
I agree with a lot of your comments. And I am a huge and I mean huge fan. What irritated me the most was I think there was a lot of censorship in the writing. I mean, even the swears were edited. Why? The first book wasn’t..why this one? Sounds like a silly thing to be pissed about but I was! And I agree- the Guy Fieri forward was an epic fail..he did talk only about himself and just at the last paragraph mention her. Like- woah buddy- fame whore much? With the first book- she was in crontrol of everything right down to the food styling. This one, not so much. I think that took away from her personality. I did however, find some recipes in it that I loved! But everyone is different. The first book will be my favorite- but I do get a kick out of the fact my picture is in the second. My little 15 min of fame. 🙁
Janet Zhwaitz says
BOTH carbs and fat can “make you fat” … What makes one fat is too many calories (of any type/sort) in!
This cookbook is definitely now NOT on my “to read list” and I thank you for saving my time!
oh, and I agree. The pictures of the food- were very tame. Whatever happened to the condom wrapped corn cob going after Panos? They were beautiful, yes. But it wasn’t “her” if you know what I mean and I think you do. Even her pics were more..um…cookie cutter “I’m going to make this look fabulous” portraits. I miss the kookie pics, you know, the zombie peeling face, and say. sequined tiger. *sigh*
Kim with a K says
LOVE your honesty!
Makes me trust your judgement even more….wonderful you!
Suzie Ridler says
Rocky5766, thank you so much for your comments, you make me feel sane. You see what I see and that makes me feel so much better. You’re in the book?! Are you in the photo at the back? And you’re right about the swearing. How could they censor the swearing? That was some of the funniest stuff in the last book?!
You are so welcome Janet and Kim. Hardest post to write but it really is a totally different cookbook than the first, even though it looks the same. And a cookbook that makes you feel guilty? I just don’t get that.