THE HELLFIRE COOKBOOK by John Philips Cranwell


Email this review


A diabolical cookbook for people who like fiery foods and also, as the author ominously notes, ""for those others who, because of the sin of gluttony, should become used to it here and now ere they perforce eat it hereafter when they will need a long spoon."" Diabolical also because a great many of these dishes, especially the hors d'oeuvres, will make you reach hastily for another martini to wash away the cayenne in the sitrimp or the Tabasco in the guacamole. Although Cranwell disclaims any link to Sir Francis Dashwood's Hell Fire Club, that notorious nest of 18th century rakes and satanists, there's a wicked gleam to most of these recipes. Clearly, this is not everyday fare; nor is it suitable for delicate digestive systems. But one of these dishes (never a whole menu) carefully matched to your guests' palates may make for a rousing evening. We don't recommend the horseradish sandwiches (this seems to be a private fetish of the author's) but the mustard soup (that's 5 Tbs. of hot mustard) created by a chef who served French royalty has possibilities and the gingered chicken soup looks delicious. There are curries of course, hotter than anything you'll see this side of Bombay and just to be especially fiendish there are desserts flambe and even a fire and ice concoction called deep-fried ice cream. Cranwell is a marvelous writer and the recipes, with accompanying anecdotes, come from all over the world, so this is worth picking up even though you'll use it sparingly. Keep ice water and the Alka-Seltzer bottle at the ready.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1975
Publisher: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co.