The notoriously irascible author, Kenny Shopsin, has for many years run an idiosyncratic downtown Manhattan restaurant that became widely famous after Calvin Trillin wrote about it in the New Yorker.
A lot of Shopsin's recipes (banana guacamole) and photographs (the naked butts of his children when they were small) are kind of unappetizing. Though I warmly reviewed this book on its "literary" merits a while back, I wasn't highly motivated to test-drive the recipes.
The hyperarticulate Melvil Dewey persuaded me to give it a try. Here's a transcription of Melvil's recent email:
I'm into Kenny Shopsin's book up to my hips. And I love it. He combines Mark Bittman's relaxed attitude with a consistent preference for strong flavors, a very funny authorial presence, and an irreverent, sort of 'Fuck it!' attitude. And he clearly loves the food he makes, which is inspiring. The lack of an index notwithstanding, the book is so GENEROUS -- generous headnotes, generous helpings of photos, generous dispensing of lore and advice. I really wish now that I had talked to him when I went into his place in the summer of 2006, but based on reading Calvin Trillin's article I was scared shitless of him. But really, how would it go if I tried to talk to him?
Me: I just wanted to say I love your cookbook. My kids love your mac n' cheese pancakes. So do I.
Kenny: Get the fuck out of here, you little yuppie.
Me: But wait, I'm a big fan of Calvin Trillin! I like Chowhound too!
Kenny: Don't let the door hit you on the way out, dickweed.
So far I've made:
1) The GA BBQ sauce, which is really just a very hot, yummy hot sauce. (Kenny Shopsin can call his sauces anything he wants to, but when you put two hot sauces together with an assload of ground pepper and a smidgen of cider vinegar, that's not a BBQ sauce -- that's an augmented hot sauce.)
2) An adulterated version of his egg guacamole (delish!)
3) The "Auntie" scramble: avocado, blue cheese, and spinach (related in its DNA to guacamole, I think)
4) The mac n' cheese pancakes, which are sublime. Joseph and I loved them. No one else would try them. Losers.
I hope Melvil will stand by his promise to contribute to the blog during the Kenny Shopsin phase. And I hope this "Joseph" person -- apparently the only non-loser in Melvil's orbit -- will weigh in as well.
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