Review: Rick & Bubba’s Big Honkin’ Book of Grub
When I picked up the package from the Post Office it was easy to tell by the big brown envelope that I had a new cookbook to review. There’s always a certain degree of mystery as I never know exactly what I will be reviewing. Imagine my surprise (dare I say horror?) when I extracted Rick & Bubba’s Big Honkin’ Book of Grub. I have nothing against Rick & Bubba, per se, just the notion of the celebrity cookbook. And not all celebrity cookbooks are bad, just most of them.
The epitomic example of the crappy celebrity cookbook wastes space my bookshelf now. The deplorable Today’s Kitchen Cookbook “written” by the hosts of NBC’s Today Show. Matt Lauer (the Carson Daly of daytime TV), Ann Curry, Al Roker and the insufferable Katie Couric have their smiling mugs plastered all over the book. Each contributed a handful of words and a token recipe or two. The rest of the book is filled with recipes pirated from the Today Show archives. Some from other celebs like Vanessa Williams and Sharon Osbrone but most are from chefs who appeared on the show, Alice Waters, Mario Batali, et al. Great recipes, sure, but why pay the $24.95 suggested retail price when you can get them free from NBC’s web site?
For those who do not know Rick & Bubba they are a couple of good ol boys who do a nationally syndicated radio show from WZZX, their flagship station in Birmingham, Alabama. The Rick & Bubba Show airs on over 60 stations across the nation and is heard by more than 3 million loyal listeners. The two turned to proven comedy writer Martha Bolten for help on what they hope will be their fourth New York Times Best Seller.
So with great trepidation I began thumbing through Rick & Bubba’s Big Honkin’ Book of Grub (Thomas Nelson, 2010). There were not a lot of recipes filling the 200+ pages. It was filled with actual prose, incites if you will. And to my surprise most of it was very good.
The two DJ’s share their love affair with food by listing their favorite eateries, favorite meals and a peck of good old country common sense. Pontificating on such hot button issues as dieting, restaurant etiquette and restructuring the modern grocery store while at the same time railing against the snobbery of so-called polite society.
On the subject of diets they begin by reminding everyone that the first three letters of the word diet spell die. They propose their own diet plan called The Rick & Bubba “Hey, You Gotta Live” Diet. The writing style is homespun folksiness that often borders on campy. But then again they do not litter their names with MS, RD, CN or any of the multitude of acronyms people use to convince you that they know what they are talking about.
They call out Weight Watchers, Sugar Busters, F Factor and the like for the intellectual skullduggery that they are. They suggest people should, “eat everything . . . only do it in moderation. You can still go to buffets; just don’t clean them out.” for comic effect adding, “And if you do, don’t start licking the serving carts.”
Humorous statements like, “I haven’t heard my stomach growl in fourteen years. I do my best to keep it full at all times. As its primary caregiver, I consider it my duty,” are followed by genuine wisdom, “The goal of our diet isn’t to get you to be skinny. Our goal is to get you to a level of fat that you can tolerate.” Also to their credit they completely reject anything vegan saying that meat is, “essential. Jesus ate meat. Who are we to tell him he’s wrong?”
What it lacks in haute cuisine “Book of Grub” more than makes for by giving homage to comfort foods. They pay tribute to the casserole and proclaim the two most underrated foods to be peanut butter and hush puppies. Their top ten list of the nation’s best restaurants runs the gamut including everything from Dreamland BBQ to the famous Shula’s Steak House. They even take to task the trend of combining napkin folding with origami.
It shocks me that I actually find myself enjoying this book. Is Rick & Bubba’s Big Honkin’ Book of Grub the second coming of On Food and Cooking? Hardly. But it is a far better tome on gastronomy than the Today’s Kitchen Cookbook.