Friday, January 17, 2020

Rage Baking: The Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women's Voices (A Cookbook with More Than 50 Recipes)

Rage Baking is a cookbook and essay collection about the feelings engendered by the modern political landscape and a discourse on positive response and plans for the future. Due out 4th Feb. 2020 from Simon & Schuster on their Tiller Press imprint, it's 208 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

I have been in a spiral of shocked dismay and, yes, rage over the political and social events of the last few years. Every single time I think 'NOW, it absolutely positively must be the breaking point, it can't get worse', politics, the climate crisis, the news, finds a way to sink even closer to the absolute bottom. We're way beyond what I even thought possible when I was younger and less pessimistic. The introduction to the book has a good quote from one of the editors:
Let me be clear: this is not a book telling women that if they get back into the kitchen and start baking, their rage will be sedated and all will be well. Far from it.
This is a book about women’s voices, women’s recipes, women in community with one another. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re being too dramatic, too loud, too outspoken. Too Sarah Bernhardt. Speak out. Speak up.
Each of the recipes is accompanied by a small intro/essay by the contributor. At least one (Ruth Reichl’s Oatmeal Cookies) is gluten (flour) free. The recipes run the gamut from ultra simple to the complex and most of the spectrum in between.

An abbreviated table of contents lists the recipes with page numbers directly for ease of use in each section. The introduction, with essays by the editors along with a discussion of tools and ingredients, is followed by chapters arranged roughly thematically: cookies/bars/bites, breads, cakes, puddings & custards, crumble/pies/tarts, and ends with a resource and mail order links list, short contributor bios, and an index.

I only tried a couple of the recipes in the book: the first recipe for Ruth Reichl's oatmeal cookies (gluten free, only 7 ingredients, and delicate/fall apart but quite delicious), and zucchini-almond bread which was delicious and moist (and didn't even last long enough to get cold). On a careful read-through of the recipes, I didn't find any glaring errors.

So the recipe part of the book is a winner in my opinion. The recipes are easy to follow and made with easily sourced ingredients which should be available at any well stocked supermarket. The essay part of the content, written by dozens of women who are mostly not primarily known for their cooking (some exceptions from the food industry of course) are full of bewildered sadness to straight up rage (we're mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore). I found reading and baking along with the essayists very cathartic. There weren't any truly sublime points for me personally from the essays or the recipes, but the combination felt constructive and at least lifted me out of the morass of the current dystopian reality for a few hours, and that was nice.

Four stars, it would likely be 3 - 3.5 for each part of the book individually, but the synergy makes it something more special.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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