Booty Food: A Date-by-Date, Course-by-Course, Nibble-by-Nibble Guide to Cultivating Love and Passion Through Food
by Jacqui Malouf with Liz Gumbinner
photographs by Ben Fink
Published by Bloomsbury
262 pages, 2004
Chained to the Bed?
Reviewed by Adrian Marks
There's no shortage of books that underline the relationship between food and sex. Books that talk about the aphrodisiac qualities of oysters and whipped cream -- though generally not together -- or chick-lit-geared cookbooks that pair tongue-in-cheek recipe titles with fairly ordinary food.
Jacqui Malouf's Booty Food is not like those books. In the first place, Booty Food is quite a bit more frank than most. A fairly serious foodie, Malouf hasn't expended a lot of energy here dreaming up silly titles for ordinary dishes. (The chapters and sidebars are another matter. Take a sidebar entitled "Too Funk to Druck," for example. Not everyone would risk it, but here Malouf tackles the alcohol question with her usual sass and spunk.) And, while the food is wonderful, it's not the only component of the book. While it's a very good cookbook, Booty Food is also a relationship book and it does a good job of maintaining the linked themes throughout.
Malouf writes, "Booty Food was created to help you find and nurture more meaningful relationships. One-Night Stand Food is a whole different subject and I'm not going to help you out there." Despite that cute (And has Malouf ever resisted the urge to be cute?) zinger and the upbeat tone and layout of the book, Booty Food seriously addresses all aspects of a relationship from the first date, through "the Marathon of Lust," to meeting parents, meeting friends, even looking after each other when you're sick, breaking up and making up.
Malouf maintains that any food -- perhaps with the exception of scrod -- that makes you feel sexy is a sexy food to you. As she writes, "Booty Food is so much more than an aphrodisiac cookbook; it's about turning any food into an aphrodisiac." That said, she has a rule of thumb for finding the sexiest:
Here's a tip for creating and ordering sexy food: Think of words you'd use to describe your romantic life -- hot, luscious, fiery, succulent, sinful, adventurous, steamy, gooey. You should be able to use them to describe the foods you're eating together, too. I don't really see scrod as fitting any of these descriptions.
The recipes in Booty Food, like the balance of the book, are clear, uncomplicated and effortlessly hot. Fresh Oysters with Red Wine Mignonette, Pork Tenderloin with Port-Infused Fig Sauce Served Over Polenta, White-Truffle Mac and Cheese (though that one is listed as a "getting over it" food, it could be sexy in the right circumstances) and Post-coital Lobster Eggs Benedict. (And the "post-coital" isn't just meant to be cute: she pretty much means it.)
Malouf is, of course, best known as Bobby Flay's perky sidekick on the Food Network's Hot off the Grill with Bobby Flay, she also hosts the Emmy Award-winning reality show, Subway Q & A and Full Frontal Fashion. As engaging as she is always is on television, Booty Food will make you realize Jacqui Malouf's TV personality is fairly restrained. Booty Food is a luscious invitation to love. As Malouf so eloquently puts it near the beginning of the book, "My only hope is that after spending some time with Booty Food, you are inspired to leave the office behind for the night, grab someone you love, and get busy on the kitchen counter." | January 2004
Adrian Marks is a January Magazine contributing editor.