I anxiously awaited the arrival of The Best of Bridge Cookbook. The publishers marketed it as a cookbook to “evoke all the goodness of home cooking” which will make you “feel good.” They said it would “inspire me.” Ready to be “inspired” by the 250 recipes, I ripped open the package the day it arrived at my apartment complex. The cover shocked me: egg noodles, something resembling chicken in an indiscernible sauce, and frozen vegetables. That’s one way to market a cookbook, I thought to myself…but what do I know? I’m not a publishing company.
Ignoring the bizarre cover photo I started flipping through the pages. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” rang in my ears. As an English teacher, I preach this saying in class. I instruct my students to be open-minded and give things a chance. I was rooting for this cookbook- I really was! Some recipes intrigued me- I began earmarking recipes to try.
For any Canadians or cooking fans of the metric system, recipes are already adapted for different units of measure making this cookbook a breeze to use for cooks in any country. Best of Bridge does do a nice job categorizing the recipes easily. The book is separated into chapters by course or by protein. Additionally, another mode of categorization does happen. Recipe titles have a note underneath them when they’re “slow cooker“ or “fast-and-easy.” So, the cookbook is user friendly. There are some good qualities! But, I digress…
I came across some strange sayings. It was as though the book is being narrated by some strange, close-minded, sexist kook. I could hear them prattling (these are direct quotes from the cookbook I remind you): “Sign on a divorce lawyer’s wall: satisfaction guaranteed or your honey back,” Why do husbands often talk in their sleep? It’s the only chance they get,” and “Never trust an atom. They make up everything.” Mind you, these can all be found below recipes. They aren’t even all related to cooking. What is going on here?
Ignoring the bizarre phrases, I decided to conquer 3 recipes: “Amazing Chicken Enchiladas” because I love Mexican food, “Just Peachy Pork” because it isn’t something I would normally want to cook and it seemed interesting, and “Creamy Peanut Noodles” because the peanut sauce seemed simple yet delicious.
The enchiladas were yummy the day they were made; however, when I went back for leftovers a day later, as I was cooking for one, the tortillas were soggy because of the sour cream and cream cheese laden filling. They did not store well. I should not have made the pork dish. Typically I love mixing pork with fruits- however, this recipe was way too sweet and the inclusion of canned peaches was odd and off putting. Very sugary. Too saucy. Gross.
The “Creamy Peanut Noodles” did not disappoint. It was delicious and I ate the leftovers for days. The sauce was simple yet satisfying- and slightly under seasoned since I followed the directions exactly. I will use this recipe for years to come making adjustments to salt (adding it) and spice (adding more sriracha).
I poured over all 250 recipes to find another 3 to get excited about and to try but I couldn’t. Overall, the recipes were not “soul-satisfying” nor did they seem “delicious” as the publishers describe. They were bland (rarely listing anything like “season to taste”) and somewhat trite. Yes, some comfort foods are simple but….dozens of pages dedicated to sandwiches? Do people need that? Frozen foods as staples? The only reason I wanted to get “back in the kitchen” was to discard this cookbook and look up some interesting recipes on Pinterest, Hatchery, or on the back of a Trader Joe’s baking ingredient box.
I should have trusted my gut as soon as I saw the frozen vegetables on top of store-bought noodles pictured on the cover. I am better than that. You, dear reader, are better than that. Comfort food isn’t frozen vegetables. Comfort food is a properly seasoned meal that takes you to a specific place in time- to your grandmother’s house during winter, to a chic Asian restaurant, to a divey yet delicious Mexican taqueria- not to the frozen food aisle. If you wouldn’t eat what’s pictured on the cover, then you probably won’t enjoy eating the recipes inside. Lesson learned.
-Guest Blogger, AXR (Alexa)