Comfort Me With Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy - Cookbook Review
Tickle Your Foodie Funny Bone
by Ruth Bourdain
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012)
The 140-character format was not enough to contain Ruth Bourdain, the Twitter parody persona that takes the fanciful foodie tweets of former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl and rewrites them with a raunchy twist in the tone of "bad boy" chef/TV host Anthony Bourdain. The Twitter account of Ruth Bourdain became an Internet sensation in 2010 — even garnering a 2011 James Beard Award for humor — and now the anonymous author behind it has parlayed that success into a book: Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy. (The title may sound familiar as it's a play on Reichl's memoir Comfort Me with Apples.)
Ruth Bourdain uses the guise of an informational guide as a satirical forum to skewer our modern food culture, aiming barbs at celebrity chefs, Food Network personalities, restaurant critics and many others along the way. The book kicks off with a factual-ish timeline of the history of gastronomy — from prehistoric food trends like woolly mammoth tartare to the closing of elBulli in 2011 when "an explosion of first-person accounts of eating a final meal at the restaurant causes a global epidemic of El Boredom." Bourdain then skips around to previously unexamined subjects in the epicurean arena, including an examination of celebrity chef hairstyles (with accompanying pictures, of course), recommendations for culinary pick up lines, and instructions on "How to Survive a Vegan Apocalypse." At the beginning of each chapter, Ruth Bourdain shares (over-shares, truthfully) hilarious stories about her outrageous fictitious escapades with famous food figures, such as getting "gastrostoned" with Mario Batali by smoking tangerine zest.
Comfort Me with Offal is a quick, fun read sure to entertain Ruth Bourdain's more than 58,000 Twitter followers, as well as the rest of the culinary cognoscenti, provided they can take a joke, of course.
Reviewed by Becky Sauer