by Elizabeth Wheeler and Jennifer Trainer
Photos by Kristen Brochmann
The Yachting Cookbook is:
• Well organized along types of boating rather than types of food.
• Well written with entertaining stories.
• Filled with gorgeous photos of beautiful meals aboard lovely yachts.
• Full of clever menus.
• Easy to follow. Even recipes for high-end hors d’oeuvres are written for simplicity.
This is my first book review for The Smallest Galley. I chose to begin with The Yachting Cookbook because I want the book off my boat.
That sounds a lot more harsh than it is. It’s not that I find the book distasteful, the recipes bad, or the writing obnoxious. Far from it. This is a beautiful, inspiring book full of healthy, tasty food.
I’m intrigued by these recipes especially:
• Eggs In Hell – not about how to eat in a storm, but recovery from too much party.
• Nautical Nuggets – a healthy version of chicken nuggets
• Lobster Creole – anything creole … but lobster?
• Caribbean Lobster with Limes – now that looks really good
• Sardines on Black Bread with Mustard Butter – Sounds wonderfully rustic and hearty
• Dorothy’s Chicken Liver Pate – Could make this in one bowl
• Italian Eggplant Salad – Exotic and a little daunting
• The Devil’s Brownies – To follow the eggs perhaps?
• Roast Pork and Orange Salad – Yum, that’s a combo that’s so in my wheelhouse
• Bull Shots – You had me at beef broth and bourbon
• Banana Crisp – I’m doubtful, but hopeful
• One-Pot Hungarian Chicken with Dumplings – comfort food – and one pot
• Grilled Pumpkin – What? So curious.
Yep, as I said, it’s not the food that puts me off. The trouble is the format. This book just doesn’t match the Smallest Galley ethic, which stipulates that everything must be useful and should in fact have at least two uses. Anything that only does one job is a joke. This book is huge, unwieldy and too pretty for cooking. If I tried to prop it up in my galley to follow one of the recipes there would be no room for the food, the tools, or my glass of wine. And that last? That’s a deal breaker.
As I said, the book is lovely. The hundred or so full-color photos show fun and romantic moments aboard beautiful yachts. This is a coffee table book, aimed at the off-season cook who is dreaming, planning and plotting what to cook for the first voyage of spring. As such, it doesn’t deal with gritty questions like what to feed the tender-tummied when the seas turn rough. Yachting is only one kind of boating, and from what I can tell by looking through this book, it is accomplished on calm seas under bright blue skies and wearing a natty jacket.
There are some good tips to be found in the Getting Ready section. For instance, keep a separate drinks cooler so that drunks don’t mess up the organization of the icebox when they go pawing around looking for the last Miller Lite. And I particularly like the idea of designating a handy snacks locker, so that crew members don’t scarf down ingredients meant for the next meal. But this vital section is only two pages long – shorter than many of the stories that introduce a particular meal. There’s little on long term storage, nothing about provisioning on a budget. And how to clean up is missing entirely.
But I’m quibbling. This is not a how-to book, it’s an inspiration book. The cooks who wrote it cater to monied families and the favored foodstuffs include champagne, caviar and Camembert. Crystal stemware is mentioned. Several times. Yeah, my wine glasses are acrylic. They have no stems. Crystal breaks when the boat heels. Stems take up too much room.
I’m well aware that I sound like one of those misguided souls who think that telling the world that, personally, a book has too much swearing for them, counts as a review. So I’ll say again, The Yachting Cookbook offers many wonderful recipes in a beautiful package of lovely photographs and well written sea stories. Just because the format doesn’t fit my environment doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for many cooks.
What kind of galley cook is this book best for?
The Yachting Cookbook is a shore-side read, and any sailing cook with a home on land should add it to his or her cookbook collection. I also recommend it as a gift. An avid sailor who wants to entice his foodie partner out on the water would do well to present her (or him) with an elegantly wrapped copy of The Yachting Cookbook. And if I had a house on shore, I would try making many of the dishes. They do look divine.