The Devil's Food Dictionary | Civil Eats

The Devil’s Food Dictionary

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Sometimes things just get a little too serious, especially when it comes to the issues we often discuss here on Civil Eats. If you ever feel that way at times then here’s a demented solution to your conundrum. Go out and buy the glorious The Devil’s Food Dictionary: A Pioneering Culinary Reference Work Consisting Entirely of Lies (Written by the demented mind of by Barry Foy with devilish illustrations by John Boesche.) Billed as the “most unreliable food book you’ll ever own,” this beguiling little volume will surely help to put a smile on your face even in the worst of times.

I give this book my highest recommendation. But I really don’t have a choice, seeing as how it’s received so many accolades from people who are imaginary and/or deceased. I mean, when Oscar Wilde calls a book a “must-have!”….well, I just must have it.

But seriously, the Devil is in the details so let’s get down to some specifics. The price of the book, it turns out, can be recovered faster than it will take your new Nigerian “friend” to wire you that £ 50,000 check he promised over the email last week. Just turn to page 153 and learn the secret for turning Crisco into Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. You will need .98 metric bunch of organic parsley (flat leaf, of course) and a jar of pimento-stuffed Olives (I have some in the back of my fridge I can loan you, if you’d like). It is really a simple process as described and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first.Your Italian neighbors will be notably impressed when you next serve your bruschetta. Just don’t give out our little secret, OK?

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I also learned that Salmonella is the “name applied to a young adult (about one year old) Salmon.” Anglers, I now know, lure the Salmonella to their nets with unrefrigerated egg salad and spoiled mayonnaise. I feel worlds smarter already (and I’m sure you do, too). My only question is how all these Salmonella got into the peanut butter and cases of jalapenos.

My main complaint with the book is the dearth of illustrations. There are some witty illustrations to begin each Letter, but I would have liked to see a picture of the Sconium (the radioactive element found in certain triangular quick breads) or the Hacksaw en croute.

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Here’s a book that no one realized they needed until now, and I certainly don’t know how I could have lived so long without it.

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Chef / Ecologist Aaron French is the Environment Editor at Civil Eats. He is the chef of The Sunny Side Cafe and is writing his first book "The Bay Area Homegrown Cookbook" (Voyageur Press, 2011). He has a Masters in Ecology and is currently working toward his MBA at UC Berkeley, with a focus on sustainable business practices. Read more >

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