Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eat Ink: Recipes. Stories. Ink.

"I always thought tattoos were part of history, a part of culture and ritual."
--Dominique Creen

Ink. Skin Art. Tats. The history of tattooing extends back many thousands of years, and cultures all across the world have engaged in this practice. In Massachusetts, tattooing was banned back in 1962 and that law was finally overturned in 2000. During that period of prohibition, people of Massachusetts who wanted a tattoo had to travel to another state to acquire their ink, or get it illegally within the state from an underground tattoo artist. Since tattooing became legal in 2000, many more people have acquired skin art, and it has become very common in the food industry. A number of chefs, cook, servers and other food industry workers have gotten tattoos that reflect their culinary interests and passions.  

A fascinating new book, which I received as a review sample, celebrates this intersection of food and tattoos. Eat Ink: Recipes. Stories. Ink. by Birk O'Halloran & Daniel Luke Holton (Adams Media, November 2013, $29.99), is a hardcover book of 304 pages, divided into five parts, including Hoofed, Finned, Winged, Rooted and SugarBirk O'Halloran is a sommelier and writer, as well as the owner of Iconic Wine, a Napa, California–based boutique wine company. Daniel Luke Holton's first passion is photography and is a graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado. Holton's company is DLH Creative and he lives in Denver, Colorado.

Each of the five Parts contains information about a varied number of chefs, with a recipe that falls within the topic of that part. In total, about 60 chefs and recipes are included in this book. The chefs range the gamut from James Beard Award winners to prep cooks and sous chefs, and are from restaurants all across the country. Two Massachusetts chefs are included: Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel in Boston, and Alina Eisenhauer of Sweet in Worcester. You can also find chefs that were born in Massachusetts but have moved elsewhere.

"You're making them smile through their stomachs. You can completely change a person's day by making them a good meal."
--Lish Steiling

Each section, which starts with a quote from the chef, includes 1-2 pages about the chef, their cooking philosophy and tattoos. This provides an intriguing glimpse into the mind of the chef, though it is more an appetizer than a main dish. It might have been better and more informative if these sections were longer, providing a more in-depth look at these chefs.

Following each chef's section, there is a recipe, which range in difficulty from easy to complex. You'll find recipes from Black Pig Bacon and Duck Egg Carbonara to Frog Legs with Spicy Dr. Pepper Glaze, from Nasi Goreng to Corn Flake Cookies. There are soups and desserts, drinks and sandwiches, appetizers and breakfasts. There is also a Recipe Index at the end of the book which enables you to more easily find a recipe that interests you.

Throughout the book, you'll find multiple photographs of the chefs, their tattoos and the dishes for each recipe. Some photos concentrate more on the tattoos while others are more scenes of the chef in their kitchen. The food shots are compelling, and the chef photos can also be intriguing, to see the type of tattoos they have chosen to acquire. Visually, it is an aesthetically pleasing book.

Overall, this is a fun and fascinating book, though I would have preferred more information about each chef. It is visually appealing with plenty of intriguing recipes that will tempt your palate. A tattoo is usually a very personal thing, one which often is then displayed for all to see. To get a deeper understanding of chefs and their tattoos can be very enlightening. Check out Eat Ink.

"Cooking is alchemy. I love the idea that food can be turned into gold simply by putting your soul into a dish."
--Ian Marks

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