From the Cookshelf: Valentine's Edition

First off, I've gotta say, Sweeping Her Off Her Feet With Food by Eric S. Lee is not the sort of cookbook I typically review. In fact, it's not a typical cookbook in many respects. For one thing, the whole point of this book is pretty much to help the culinarily and romantically challenged find the short (sweet, spicy) path from dining room to bedroom. Think I'm reading too much into it? Check the subtitle: "The Ultimate Guide to Romance & Seduction in the Kitchen."

Mr. Lee's goal is a simple and straightforward one: he wants to help. Who? The "romantically impaired." With what? Getting, er, lucky. How? Via seduction courtesy of mad culinary skills ~ or at least a really great meal. And to that end, he's written this book, providing step-by-step instructions on preparing four complete menus for romantic dinners, with additional recipes and plenty of suggestions for, um, extracurricular spicing.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that my own husband, who has many, many charms, has cooked approximately one dinner for me in the 22 years I've known him. He lit candles, served lobster, and offered me a diamond ring in a black velvet box. I was 19, I said yes, the rest is history, and I've been cooking ever since.

I don't mind cooking. I love to cook. In fact, I'm in the culinary profession, so there's absolutely no need for my husband to cook. That said, there's no denying that there is something very, very appealing about a man who can cook. (I'm just saying.) So, I decided to leave my review copy of this book in strategic places around the house. On the kitchen counter. The coffee table. My night table. In my husband's hand. Alas, nothing came of it.

Out of curiosity, I decided to take the book into the restaurant where I work as pastry chef and let a few of my male colleagues take a look at it. Since they're obviously able to cook (they are chefs, after all), I just asked them to take a gander at the book and share their thoughts with me.

That was a week ago, and the book remains a topic of lively conversation. Parts were read aloud ~ too loud. Discussed. Ad-libbed with great enthusiasm. Because guys who can cook, of course, know that food ~ all good food, not a handful of foods like oysters and asparagus (please!) ~ is aphrodesiac if you know what to do with it. And by that I mean, serve it so that it has the power to affect the eater on a sensual level. And therein lies the magic.

And this is exactly what Mr. Lee contends. His recipes for Steak Diane, Chicken Piccata, and Duck Breast with Raspberry Ginger Sauce are pretty date-worthy. But it's the material in the front and back of the book that contain all the real recipes for "succ-sex" (not my word, folks). The attention to detail, the art of savoring, the finessing that go into preparing a meal for someone you love.

Is it worth the shelf space? Let's just say this isn't the sort of book you'd purchase if you're looking to bone up on your cooking skills. It's a fun novelty cookbook though, perfect for guys who'd like to hone some swoon-worthy dinner plans. Husbands, take note.

Sweeping Her Off Her Feet With Food: The Ultimate Guide To Romance & Seduction in the Kitchen
Eric S. Lee
Trade soft cover, 150 pp, color
List $29.95


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