Cooks' Books

Famous Faces, Famous Places, & Famous Food

By Victoria Brooks (Great Escape, $22.95) If a book could suffer from multiple personality disorder, Famous Faces, Famous Places, & Famous Food would be it. This reader wonders: Is it a travelogue, a collection of biographies, or a cookbook? Loosely organized around the travels of famous writers—Ian Fleming, Arthur C. Clarke, and Dick Francis, to name a few—Faces also includes author Victoria Brooks' reflections on her experiences in foreign lands. Brooks tacks recipes to the end of each vignette rather haphazardly, like a 5-year-old playing pin the tail on the donkey. Also, the dishes she suggests aren't particularly appealing. Call me a snob, but roast pork rolls and "Hemingway Great Dish with Maître D'Hôtel Sauce" (seafood, sausage, and lemon butter sauce) sound uninspired at best. Most confusing is the lack of worthy women in the book. Are there no famous female writers? What about Doris Lessing? She could have talked about how to make bush tea in the velds of South Africa. Or Alice Walker? Couldn't she have given us her famous recipe for apple pie? Faces would have been much more successful if it had focused on a single genre, like Brooks' previous Literary Trips series. Here, she offers the reader a diluted sampling of famous lives, accompanied by recipes that make Cooking for Dummies seem Pulitzer-worthy. SAMANTHA STOREY

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