book reports: “On a Stick!” by Matt Armendariz

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In my expanding cookbook library, there are some definite stars. For a little bit of geeky love, I bring you book reports. Because I cannot, for the life of me, write about a book without thinking of book reports of yore.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of receiving a cute new cookbook to review in the mail. Arriving on the Friday of a very stressful, annoying week, the front cover alone gave me a smile. [Confession: I love corn dogs. Very very much. I cannot deny it and the love will never go away.]

The bright, playful, scrumptious photography throughout the book is a selling point, for sure. This book does not lack in eye candy. The many pictures of finished dishes comforts me greatly – having a visual reference to what the recipe should result in is just darn helpful. Between Adam Pearson‘s food styling and Matt’s photography, it’s a winner.

Yes, that IS spaghetti and meatballs. On a stick. You just have to buy the book to figure out how he does it
[Totally extraneous side note: I find it INCREDIBLY adorable that Matt and Adam are married. Food photographer/writer/blogger married to a food stylist? That's some matchmade love!]

As for the recipes? Well, this is a true mixed bag cookbook, all very focused on entertaining. Almost every recipe has a dipping sauce, making a huge reference of condiments for general use. There is a large array of worldly influences, from satay and souvlaki to strawberry shortcake and sweet tofu dango. There is a wide range of skill levels. Couldn’t-be-easier store bought cinnamon rolls simply stuck on a stick and cocktail ice cubes made of fruit juice and fresh berries. And more challenging “son-in-law eggs” and deep fried chicken and waffles (chicken tenders coated in waffle batter – yes, really).

But, it is not all peaches and cream. The overwhelming presence of frying and grilling present challenges – I do not own or have regular access to a grill. So many of those skewered, thinly sliced meats just aren’t the same in the oven or on the stove. And frying in general is not an activity I embrace in my own home. Fried foods are more than welcome as treats, but fried foods have always been special occasion treats, that you go out and search for.

And this is just put out there as a general warning – you must have a heart for parties and get-togethers and a sense of humor to appreciate this cookbook. From reading Matt’s blog, I must say that I love his point of view in writing “On a Stick!” It’s wise to embrace the silly – dipping frozen waffles in chocolate or frying potato chips on a stick may not be for all culinary enthusiasts [cough cough, foodies], but it’s damn sure fun.

Actual recipe testing has not happened as frequently as desired with this book, but I do have something delicious coming your way from the book. But I can give you this:

Matt Armendariz: Putting childhood treats to shame since 2011.

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