Rogues, Writers, & Whores: Dining with the Rich & Infamous, or A Stock of Scrumptious Stories from the Centuries
“I hate people who are not serious about their meals,” quips Oscar Wilde in the introduction of this delightful collection of anecdotes and recipes whimsically illustrated by Yael Hershberg and compiled by food and wine writer Daniel Rogov. The motley protagonists of these tales however do not take fine dining frivolously; they inspire, enjoy, or create the famous dishes. “Gastronomy,” Rogov writes, “ranks with all of the social sciences as a means of defining the culture of a nation or a community.” As the collection of stories spans centuries, Rogov provides an overview of the changes in the European culinary habits and tastes. The past is indeed a foreign country as the list of ingredients—camel hooves, nightingales’ tongues, beef marrow—demonstrates. With unflinching humor, the tales pose and answer questions. Were Europeans really afraid of eating potatoes? What would have happened to Marcel Proust if it had not been for a madeleine? Best of all, Rogues, Writers & Whores succeeds as a cookbook since the tales are trailed by original recipes and modern adaptations.
I recommend trying the Leek Tart. After your guest has eaten, admit it is a Borgia recipe, and watch his/her face. Scrumptious, unadulterated fun.