With more than 5 million copies of his barbecue cookbooks in print, Steven Raichlen understands how men cook. Because when it comes to cooking outdoors, men rule.
But are men so underserved by the publishing industry that they need their own cookbooks?
“I really believe they do,” says Raichlen, whose “Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys” has just been released. “There’s a body of knowledge that men need to know, and I wanted to put it in one place. It’s sort of a culinary literacy class for guys.”
Like Raichlen’s barbecue books, “Man Made Meals” has an encyclopedic quality, with more than 300 recipes in 640 pages and instructions on how to conquer such important tasks as shucking an oyster, eating a lobster and setting up a home bar.
“In writing this book, I sat down and a made a couple of lists,” says Raichlen, who lives in Coconut Grove and Nantucket, Mass. “I made one list of iconic guy foods: steak, chili, beef stew, beer-braised beef. Then, I made second list of all of the tasks that I thought a guy should know how to do.”
While Raichlen trained at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris, his palate runs toward big-flavored foods. Included in the new cookbook are recipes for Korean beef tacos and Blowtorch salmon, where he borrows a page from sushi chefs, who routinely singe seafood to bring oils to the surface of the fish and create smokiness. It’s also a cookbook for anyone who’s never baked a potato, seeded a tomato or made an omelet.
“The idea was to make it as user-friendly as possible, to tell you what you need to know before you get started,” he says. “ I guess also I was anticipating typical guy behavior.”
Typical guy behavior in the kitchen includes spending too much time creating and perfecting one dish and not thinking about the entire meal. Raichlen says men should learn to read every recipe from start to finish, to make sure they have all the ingredients and equipment a recipe calls for. Finally, most men think they’re better cooks than they are. The author says they should allow twice as much time to complete every task.
Steven Raichlen appears at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 4 at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave., in Coral Gables. The event is free, but go to BooksandBooks.com to reserve a spot.