The Decadent Cookbook is by Medlar Lucan and Durian Gray – I kid you not! I am sure the authors are grateful to Alex Martin and Jerome Fletcher for their editorial assistance, though.
Well, although it has recipes and tales of meals, it’s the weirdest food-related read around. It’s well written, funny and shocking.
The authors draw no distinction between the bizarre and the delicious. The Decadent Cookbook educates us on elements of culinary history that we (or is it only I?) knew nothing about. The chapter headings give you a clue as to what’s in store: Dinner with Caligula, Blood – the Vital Ingredient, I can Recommend the Poodle. I had thought that a Labradoodle was a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle but now I could be persuaded that it’s a cross between a Labrador and a noodle.
What makes the Decadent Cookbook both shocking and funny is that all the recipes and histories are said to be original and true. Yes, there are recipes for dog and they come from the most refined cuisines, Chinese…..and French. The winter of 1870 saw Paris under siege from the Prussians and both cat and dog became common on restaurant menus.
Most of us would have heard of a Turducken (chicken in a duck in a turkey) but Raimbault’s Le Parfait Cuisinier offers Roti Sans Pareil (Roast without Parallel). This has not three elements but…20! It starts with a caper and includes lark (ahh, shame), lapwing, woodcock, and finishes with a bustard.
It’s all about decadence – “so the decadent pushes on, trying new, ever-riskier sensations.” It focuses on excess and extremes – from choice or necessity. The writing style is flowery and convincing. You might not give The Decadent Cookbook as a Christmas present to your maiden aunt, but I found it amusing and fascinating and it would be an after-dinner (perhaps roast hedgehog) talking point.
The Decadent Cookbook
Authors: Medlar Lucan and Durian Gray
Edited by: Alex Martin and Jerome Fletcher
Published by: Dedalus
ISBN 1 873982 22 4
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018