Published by Universe
Publication date: September 11th 2012
Eating well is the best revenge. It is a rebellion against the ubiquitous mass marketing of junk-filled foods that flood the airways, bottleneck the highways, and have transformed America into a festering fast-food nation of super-sized junk food junkies…
Can you take a heaping tablespoon of raunchy, add it to a cup of sexy and still come up with a useful cookbook? In the case of Lydia Lunch’s The Need to Feed: A Hedonist’s Guide, you can. Lunch earned her last name while on the underground music circuit because, in addition to being a performance artist and musician, she was the go-to person to feed the hungry. And not processed prepared foods. Need to Feed is based on Lunch’s belief that “We need to eat. But more than that we need to feed—to feed our bodies, brains and psyches with energy-enhancing, soul-soothing nutrients that nourish our life force.” And while her background may be in the arts, she is well versed in what is real food and what is not and was living the organic, natural life before most of us had stopped eating Twinkies. A cookbook with stats and foot notes? Yes, but it works.
The book is packed with an intriguing mix of recipes to suit every mood from hearty foods to light snacks to satisfying a sweet tooth. Instead of the standard chapters (either by meal or food type) these chapters sport such playful names as Sweet Freak and The Killer Inside Me but the food is not sacrificed for the fun. The recipes show a wide variety of ethnic influences but are all made with ingredients that won’t break the bank or take hours and miles of shopping. A few that piqued my interest included Scallops with Pineapple Salsa, Warm Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries, Fresh Figs, & Hazelnuts, and Honey Skillet Cornbread. And while there may be decadence at play, Lunch’s knowledge of various foods and their benefits mean there is a healthy balance. She walks the walks regarding nutritional value and while her attitude may be brash and trashy it’s also warm and knowledgeable.
Nothing about Need to Feed is traditional. Each chapter is accompanied by Lunch’s explanation of its meaning and a wildly eclectic playlist of music. There are no photos, only line drawings and illustrations but there is a comprehensive index and the recipes work. While this would not work as the only cookbook in most kitchens, Lunch’s outrageous persona, sly humor, and food know-how make it a worthwhile addition to spice up any cookbook collection.