The Dead Celebrity Cookbook – Dead but Not Gone: Recipes to die for…
Foodie Friday WIth Author Frank DeCaro
It’s hard to avoid punning when describing the new Dead Celebrity Cookbook – A Resurrection of Recipes from More than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen by Frank DeCaro. DeCaro is a celebrity in his own right: he was the flamboyant movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and now hosts his own weekday morning national call-in program “The Frank DeCaro Show” on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. He wrote the memoir A Boy Named Phyllis and wrote the “Style Over Substance” column for the New York Times.
DeCaro indulges in plenty of tongue-in-cheek comments, but despite the playful tone of the book, he is serious student of pop culture and truly loves the guys and gals whose recipes he has rounded up. “I’ve been interested in celebrities dead and alive for a long time. I’m fascinated by the power of stardom; I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame.”
He calls himself a ‘professional fan.’ “It’s funny. When I was journalist, I wouldn’t always know what to ask, but when it comes to entertainers, I know just what to ask.”
The cookbook owes its inspiration to a “Dead Celebrity Party” DeCaro attended during his college years. He went as Euell Gibbons, the spokesperson for Grapenuts who promoted eating natural foods as the answer to a long life and wrote that many parts of the pine tree are edible. “I took a box of Grapenuts and parts of a pine tree.”
The only thing missing from the gathering was the food of the dead celebrities they were celebrating. “I started collecting out of print cookbooks and fliers and manuals for Microwave ovens that had celebrity recipes. I started amassing stuff. I had to do something with all the materials.”
Good thing he did. The book is an historical treasure trove. For each star in the book’s galaxy, DeCaro gives a tasty selection of essential facts seasoned with a good dash of appreciation.
“People are really taken with it. Despite the irreverent title, I really have great respect for them all. I think it’s about keeping those famous names out there and alerting a younger audience about them. It’s important to know whose shoulders we all stand on. Lady Gaga even mentioned Liberace in one of her songs.”
The book’s witty categories tantalize: Talk Chow includes famous talk show hosts recipes such as Jack Parr’s Clupp Soup and Dinah Shore’s Red Snapper. A Ring-a-Ding-Ding Rat Pack BBQ features Frank Sinatra’s Barbecued Lamb, Sammy Davis Jr’s Salad and Dean Martin’s Burgers and Bourbon. Sitcom Moms Really Cook showcase Donna Reed’s Bisque Tortoni and Harriet Nelson’s Favorite Chicken.
The back cover captures the tone: “If you’ve ever fantasized about feasting on Frank Sinatra’s Barbequed Lamb, taking a stab at Anthony Perkins’s Tuna Salad or wrapping your lips around Rock Hudson’s Cannoli – and really, who hasn’t? – hold on to your oven mitts!”
The recipes are fun but the real meat of the book is the stories and information about the various stars. “It’s a pop culture history lesson along with good eating. The important thing is, if you feel like changing a recipe, go ahead. They’re dead, so you can do it.
“I’m a good cook and a great eater. Recipes are a great way to learn about our culture. I want to send people to their DVDs and archives. And maybe to their stoves.”