Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Roughcut Cookbook / Pete Christensen

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Humor/Cooking

Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words


Kindle US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: No  Smashwords: NO  Paper: No
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords stores


Pete Christensen is a broadcaster and professional standup comedian. He is also the author of Musical Chairs: Bandstand Exposed. For more, visit his website.


The subtitle is, The world’s first comedy cookbook. Aimed at anyone who has “gotten a vacuum cleaner for Christmas” as a revenge gift for their man. The book includes forty-eight recipes simple enough for the Neanderthal in your life.


This book is intended to be a cookbook, of sorts, with recipes easy enough for a man who doesn’t know his broiler from his double-boiler. Spice it up with comedy and some man talk; it should hold his attention even longer. It is a novel concept that theoretically should be a good fit for the right audience.

Theory doesn’t always fit reality. The comedic portion of the book is mostly good. Comedy is often caricature and Christensen implies a cluelessness in the kitchen that most men will read, feel superior, and laugh. Some jokes are reused or overdone – the first time we’re told if we see smoke or the smoke alarm goes off it is past time to remove our creation from the oven it is funny. By the fourth variation on this same theme, the joke has lost its punch.

The actual recipes are appropriate for the target audience. Most are relatively easy to prepare. A typical recipe in a more traditional cookbook would start with a list of ingredients followed by a narrative with instructions for preparation. At least one recipe flip-flopped the narrative and ingredients, but mostly they stick to the traditional form. The narrative is interspersed with jokes, wisecracks, and other comedic material. (Refer to the smoke joke above.) This livens up what would be dry reading and should get a laugh or two out of the cook. Sometimes I think this narrative got in the way of making sure the directions were complete and consistent. For example, the Chicken Kiev recipe lists 8-10 ounces of Muenster cheese as an ingredient, but the directions don’t mention using it in preparing the dish. The Chicken Kiev instructions also caution against cutting raw chicken on a wooden cutting board because of the danger of salmonella poisoning, which is a good reminder or, given the assumed skill level of the cook, probably educational. However, another recipe uses raw egg in a smoothie with no mention of the same risk.

Despite some issues with the recipes, a semi-competent cook should be able to follow them well enough. Most adult men should reach semi-competent if they stretch. Where The Roughcut Cookbook really went astray was in two other areas.

One of these was editing. Typos and wrong words are common. Often these are similar words, the dreaded your, you’re problem or the archaic word fain, that would mean “eagerly” if anyone still used it, instead of feign, which means “faking it.” It also seemed that commas were sometimes misused or, even worse, sentences were split into two. For example, does the sentence, “When you mix the butter with the flour” make sense? It didn’t to me until I read the next sentence, “Handle it as carefully as when you do electrical work (without turning off the power first).”

My other complaint is the repeated mention of sustainable fisheries. (If this term means nothing to you, Google knows, or see the FYI section.) It seemed like every time a recipe called for fish there was a tangent discussing this subject. I’m not questioning the seriousness of the problem or what the author says on the subject. I am questioning bringing a serious issue like this up as often as it was in a book that is supposed to be a light-hearted cooking comedy.


If you’re not familiar with the issue of sustainable fisheries and want to know more you can start with this Wikipedia article or even this novel.

Format/Typo Issues:

A large number of typos and editing problems. I know the Kindle compatible format I received is not an exact duplicate of what is available from Amazon because that version has pictures. However, I believe the text should be the same.

Rating: ** Two stars

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the Roughcut Cookbook. I felt Al's review was honest and fair. However, I think it had a laugh on almost every page. I also felt some serious subject matter (fisheries) wasn't over the average readers head.