Cookbook Review: Everything a Man Needs to Know About Cooking But Was Afraid to Ask

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Real men love to cook.
There are a number of cookbooks out there catering to male sensibilities. Daniel Duane's How to Cook Like a Man is part memoir, part instruction manual. Then there's simply Cook Like A Man: The Ultimate Cookbook for the Modern Gentleman, Esquire Magazine's Eat Like a Man, The Stag Cook Book and even the world's saddest cookbook, Microwave Cooking for One, which, in spite of the smiling female on the cover, seems designed for single dudes.

And now there's a new tome to add to the collection of testosterone-fueled culinary how-tos: Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys, by Steven Raichlen. The voluminous guide (640 pages) to everything a man would need to know in the kitchen is part recipe book, part technical guide and part introduction to the world of cooking. The good news is it appears to be a useful book even for those who might be a little more experienced in the kitchen. Need to know how to butterfly a pork loin or shop for knives? That's all here, along with a glossary of cooking terms and bartending how-tos.

The only thing the book doesn't explain is how long it'll take to cook your way through the entire thing.

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Recipes or food porn: Unlike most of the cookbooks we review, this one isn't very photo-heavy. Most of the recipes are not accompanied by images of the completed dish. Photos are primarily used to demonstrate techniques step-by-step like, for instance, how to spatchcock a chicken. In addition to recipes, the book contains lengthy (it's 640 pages, remember) but useful guides to everything from stocking a pantry to making an omelette, as well as interviews with "Food Dudes" like Michael Pollan. This cookbook definitely falls on the side of knowledge over aesthetics.

Ease of use: The book is a little overwhelming due to the sheer volume of information contained within it. The contents page at the front lists 17 categories of recipes (soups and salads are two distinct categories from starters, and every meat is a separate chapter), as well as conversion tables, a glossary and an index. Though the contents page and index are helpful, the book isn't immediately intuitive. If you want to find a specific interview with a "Food Dude" or, for instance, a guide to peeling garlic (in the soup section for some reason), you'll have to consult the index.

Other than the organizational puzzles, though, the cookbook is very straightforward. The recipes give a lot of detail without adding anything extraneous, so even inexperienced cooks can follow along and prepare complicated dishes.

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