After reading through The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook and trying some of the recipes, I have to say yes.
Whenever I look through a cookbook, I keep a sheet of paper handy so I can mark any recipe I find interesting with quick, torn strips. By the time I was halfway through with The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, the book was bristling. Now that I am all the way through, it is even more so. The book is full of recipes that not only look tasty but are within the skillset and budget of the average cook.
The book has more than one hundred recipes that are either featured in mystery books or eaten by the writers as they work. Each recipe includes a short introduction by the author telling where the food is featured in their work, where they found it, or when they most like to eat it (or all three). This means that, in addition to finding new recipes, you can make a list of new writers to try while you’re at it (Anyone up for a few months of read-while-you-eat working through the book? Just me?).
There are no calorie counts in the book, but it is pretty easy to tell which recipes should be eaten only after chasing athletic murderers up and down long alleyways and which are suitable for those of us who spend more time exercising the little gray cells. Full cream, eggs, and cheese? Probably for the active days. Skim milk? Perfect for a quiet day. Even the most elaborate of the recipes is clearly explained, and the most exotic ingredients should be accessible without going to a specialty store.
By the way, the above mention of torn paper bookmarks should not be taken to mean that The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook has no bookmark of its own. It does—a thin gold ribbon suitable for marking any single recipe that may interest the discerning cook. The book as a book is almost too lovely to take into the kitchen. It is black with a gold-patterned side-band tastefully decorated in daggers, forks, and skulls. The front cover is textured and a pleasure to hold. Many of the recipes include photographs with the food suitably arranged for a good murder—there might be an odd bullet lying next to the salmon ball, perhaps, or a gun. Sometimes, though, the food just looks mouth-watering. Chapter divisions include a type-written paragraph setting the scene for a murder or courtcase featuring food, and there are segments on food in famous mysteries. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the book is also available in ebook format—without the cover, but with the pictures—so you can choose the format you prefer.
I have not tried every marked recipe yet (Still waiting for an excuse for Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake, for example) but the ones I have tried have been delicious.
The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate White comes out on March 24, 2015 from Quirk Books.
Jessica was helped in writing this by a small and inquisitive blue parrotlet who helped taste-test the food and tried to taste-test the book as well. He was fobbed off with a paper bookmark, but remains undaunted.