For the baby Barefoot Contessa
The other day I was nibbling yummy artisan marshmallows and sipping a latte with local honey* with a friend, when she hipped me—quite appropriately, considering our gustatory pleasures of the moment—to her seven-year-old daughter’s favorite book of late: Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly, by Carolyn Parkhurst and Dan Yaccarino (Feiwel and Friends, 2010).
Whether you think artisan marshmallows sound delicious or deliciously pretentious (a little bit of both, I’d say), there’s no question that we live in a food-obsessed culture–and our kids live in it, too. So: A picture book in which a brother and his younger sister stage their own cooking show?
Oh, yes. I’ll have a little taste of that.
Henry and Elliebelly have clearly watched the Food Network a time or two. And Parkhurst knows their parents have, too—which is why this is such a funny read for adults. Right away, we learn that today on “Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly,” the rookie chefs are making “raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles with barbecued banana bacon.”
Oh, more please! (And seriously, if you told me that this was the weekend special at The Bongo Room, I’d probably believe you.)
The book is told entirely in dialogue between Henry (5-ish?) and his red-haired lil’ sis Eleanor (2-ish), whom he calls Elliebelly, with off-stage shouts from mom when the siblings get to bickering. Which, naturally, they do. Elliebelly wants to spice up the batter with some pizza and her dolly, Baby Anne. Henry, ever the serious cook, is not having any of it.
Notice the ingredients include: “imported flour from Kansas…and twelve duck eggs.” Which are whisked together with “a whisk made of the finest metal possible.” I suspect Williams Sonoma will be carrying this book, packaged together with mommy-and-me aprons and a box of organic waffle mix, if they aren’t already. (I haven’t needed a new $20 wooden spoon lately, so I wouldn’t know.)
It gets even better when there’s a commercial break:
Look at that gaping maw!
This book is manages to be a delightful satire of contemporary/foodie culture while never for a second losing its focus on kid-reality and kid dynamics. Plus, the retro illustrations are bold and bright (I would love to see a cooking show styled like this!). I give it four forks. Now go BUY SOME PUDDING! Or check out this far more thorough review of Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly.
*This makes my life sound far more luxe than it is.