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MAN WITH A PAN by John Donohue


Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families

edited by John Donohue

Pub Date: May 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-56512-985-6
Publisher: Algonquin

Inspirational, heartwarming tales of fathers in the kitchen.

Society may still dwell on gender and assign male or female roles to family tasks, but gender roles are changing, and this compilation of stories reflects that metamorphosis. Donohue, a cartoonist and editor at the New Yorker, asked 21 other fathers of varying backgrounds to share their cooking adventures, go-to cookbooks and favorite recipes, ranging from Grilled Burgers with Herb Butter to Afrikaner staple Vegetarian Bobotie. Like most collections, the quality of the writing varies. Readers may tire of tale after tale of kitchen mishaps, but the best pieces are surprising and enlightening. Highlights include Jim Harrison’s “Chef English Major,” a fantastic riff on food and cooking in America, which takes chefs to task for overuse of rosemary, and Stephen King’s "On Cooking," an essay on how he learned the ins and outs of the kitchen after his wife lost her sense of taste and smell. There's romance here, too. Ghanaian writer and musician Mohammed Naseehu Ali tells of how cooking helped to heal his father’s heart in "The Way to a Man’s Heart." Matt Greenberg’s "The Ribbing," written in screenplay style, is a welcome piece in which a grill adopts anthropomorphic qualities. New Yorker–style cartoons garnish the pages, and the overall style of the book has that same urban feel.

Despite a few lulls, an engaging collection that should inspire comfort for the man who cooks while his baby bangs on the pots and pans.