Book Review - 'On a Stick'

Posted on: 31 May 2011 by Alexander Hay

Food on sticks goaded into life

You know you want it!

Sticks are great for many purposes. You may throw one for the benefit of your dog, or drop two in a river and see which one goes under the bridge first or you can use one to give an estate agent a good thrashing for not telling you about that dead body under the floorboards.

In fact, you can even cook food... on sticks! Sarcasm aside, it's a wonder no one has thought of dedicating an entire cookbook to this, as Matt Armendariz has done in his new book, On A Stick.

We do, after all, eat a lot of food cooked on thin bits of bamboo and softwood all the time, especially if we eat out at Asian restaurants or go to barbecues on a regular basis.

So it helps that Armendariz has come up with so many recipes, all beautifully laid out and illustrated with some excellent photography.

The recipes themselves are clearly written and legible and also have some really delicious little numbers in their midst.

You may well expect some kebab dishes, and they're certainly there, but the desserts are novel and turned out well when I gave them a try. Overall the theme that underpins it is a rather novel one and it is overall a tempting package.

There are some problems, though. As the tone of the writing suggests, this book was written in America and for an American audience. As such, some of the ingredients may be a little difficult to get hold of for British cooks - for example, one recipe requires Belgian waffles, which in the UK tend to be much more brittle and so fall apart more readily when you spear them, as per the book's instructions.

Then there is the occasional appearance of the dreaded corn syrup as an ingredient, which isn't as available (thank goodness) over here as it is stateside.

But in any case, enterprising cooks should be able to substitute where necessary and On a Stick contains more than a few great ideas for snacks, meals and desserts. It deserves no stick.

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Alexander Hay

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