by Kate Heyhoe
"If you told me three years ago that I would author my own cookbook, I would have said, "But everybody knows how to open Spam." —Sean
"The success of 'How to Boil Water' currently has me in negotiations with The Learning Channel for my own surgery show. Fine by me, because either way, I get to work with liver." —Sean
Every now and then something makes me laugh. Not just smile to myself, but actually laugh out loud. I really like it when that happens. But let's face it, there's a lot of stuff purporting to be comedy out there that's really pathos in poor disguise. And it's especially hard in the culinary world to find chefs that don't take themselves too seriously, sporting egos that overwhelm their sense of light-hearted levity.
I can't really say that Sean Donnellan is a chef—he doesn't pretend to be. But he is a very funny fellow. So how come he has a cookbook out? Well, why not? This star of the TV Food Network's program "How to Boil Water" spent 260 episodes on the air showing us just how much he didn't know. And he did it with humor. It's not uncommon for people to be paid for knowing nothing (corporate CEO's excel in this), but in his case, Sean openly admitted he didn't know jack! His carefree, child-like antics made him warmly received by millions of fans who like him, didn't know the difference from moon pies to mascarpone.
But Sean Donnellan does a have a new cookbook out, with recipes by Naidre Miller that are really very enticing. Simple preparations that anyone can make, these recipes are not for the faint of palate. Hot Goat Cheese Salad, Mango Salsa, Wild Mushroom Linguine—even the most domestically impaired could be mistaken for a seasoned chef with these meals.
The real spice in "Something Tastes Funny" is Sean's down-to-earth wit. "It's a cookbook filled with stories and half-baked ideas," he writes, "but a cookbook just the same." In his stories, Sean takes us on personal journeys from his childhood—ball-park meals with his Dad, weekend scrapple feasts, "taco pie." As an adult, Sean survives late-night shopping in a Hollywood market, where in order to avoid the local freaks, his advice is to blend in with the surroundings "much like one of those chameleons you see on the Disney Channel, by clinging to the shelf and pretending to have an animated conversation with a box of Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks." Having lived in Hollywood and shopped at that same market, the electronic Gourmet Guide concurs: the best way to avoid the crazy people is to join their club. Then pay for your goods and get the hell out as fast as you can.
Below we present links to an excerpted story and recipes from Something Tastes Funny. Besides his writing, Sean conceived of the photos and book design, also very refreshing. For those of you on America Online, check out Sean's area in the Comedy Pub. He is, as we said, a very funny fellow—one who can really dish it out.
Something Tastes Funny
by Sean Donnellan
Recipes by Naidre Miller
Photos by Max S. Gerber
Warner Books, $9.99
189 pages; June 1, 1997
Recipes and photos reprinted by permission.
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