Best of Book Riot: When Used Books Attack! (Banana Edition)
This week we’re running some of our favorite and most popular posts from our first three months.
At the bookstore where I work, we carry used books as well as new. People drop off boxes of their books, and we go through them and decide what we would like to sell in the store. We mostly receive fiction and nonfiction paperbacks, but occasionally, there is something delightful and unusual in the batch: An old Agatha Christie book in French; a book of poems about unicorns; a children’s book called “Arlo, the Dandy Lion”. But Tom, the store’s owner, found a book yesterday morning that can only be classified under ‘Things That Will Make You Claw at Your Own Eyes’. Behold: BE BOLD WITH BANANAS.
No, this is not Josephine Baker’s autobiography. It is a cookbook. A horrifying, horrifying cookbook. Released by Crescent Books, it has no publication date inside, but a search of the internet yielded a few mentions, putting its release somewhere in the early seventies. The photos certainly suggest the seventies – every picture has a burnt umber or sienna tone. The description on the back cover states, “Among the extraordinary features of this book are the beautiful, full-page, color photographs of many of the delectable recipes.”
THIS IS A LIE.
The description on the back SHOULD say, “There are photographs in this book that will have you questioning the existence of God. There are pictures in this book that will make you burst into tears. Reading this book may put you off eating forever.” Case in point:
What is that on the left? Are those intestines?!? DO NOT WANT. Almost every photo in here is stomach-churning. All I can imagine is that the person who came up with the idea for this book did so moments before they had to present their next idea to their boss.
BAD IDEA PERSON: I’m due to present a new cookbook at a meeting in five minutes and I’ve still got nothing.
BAD IDEA PERSON’S CO-WORKER: Oh, man, that stinks.
BAD IDEA PERSON: Can I throw a couple of ideas out and see what you think?
BAD IDEA PERSON’S CO-WORKER: Sure.
BAD IDEA PERSON: Get Great with Grapes. Keep Cutting Edge with Kumquats. Seem Sexy with Salmon.
BAD IDEA PERSON’S CO-WORKER: Ugh. Those are horrible.
BAD IDEA PERSON: Be Bold with Bananas.
BAD IDEA PERSON’S CO-WORKER: Not good at all, but the least awful.
BAD IDEA PERSON: I’ll take that. Thanks, buddy.
I am not sure how this cookbook was approved, but apparently, to look at it, the big selling point was photos of the recipes as they would appear after they had been eaten.
Now, I have nothing against bananas. I am in need of potassium as much as the next person. And while I do not eat them on a regular basis, I am not opposed to banana bread, or the occasional banana sliced up in a bowl of Rice Krispies. But I would eat a puppy before I would eat anything suggested in this book. Banana Sausages. Banana and Fish Salad. Banana Nests. (That right there sounds like a banana infestation.) This brings us to the last photo I am going to share with you. The only explanation for this next picture is that someone at the printing press slipped it in as a joke at the last minute. SPOILER: This is the most horrifying thing ever. Ready?
This monstrosity is called a Banana Candle, which consists of a banana stuck in a pineapple slice, with mayonnaise and a maraschino cherry on top. And it is a crime against nature. If someone brought this into my home, I would slap them, and then burn my house down and salt the ground where it stood. This photo is the reason flocks of birds inexplicably die and fall to the ground. Goats and gangrene, who approved this picture??? Imagine my horror – I actually touched this book.
Thus concludes today’s episode of “When Used Books Attack.” If you find you are still not sufficiently disturbed, go Google “salmon wiggle”.
Liberty Hardy is a bookseller at RiverRun bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H. and runs Write Place, Write Time. Follow her on Twitter: @MissLiberty