Yum? Some Of The Most Ridiculous Cookbooks To Ever Exist

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Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

Sometimes you come across a book that does not seem to fit all the other books in the genre, in this case: cookbooks. And that can be fun. It can add some needed flavor and seasoning — that was too easy, I had to. But sometimes it can be a bit of a head-scratcher: cannibalism art in a cookbook? And then there are the ones that may make you want to run away. Far, far away, like to live on the moon where human food doesn’t even exist. Or maybe you’ll need to find a time machine to undo having seen a thing. Either way, the world has enough seriousness in it, so let’s bring on the ridiculous cookbooks of the past (groovy ’70s needed to be less groovy with one of these) and present.

These ridiculous cookbooks make great, fun gifts. They’ll enjoy lounging on a coffee table, or sitting on a shelf ready to start a lively and/or hilarious conversation. Maybe even call family and friends and have a cook-off to see which recipes work and which maybe don’t. Spoiler: we can tell you one big fat don’t below, but if you’re adventurous, you may still want to find out for yourself.

cover image Be Bold With Bananas

Be Bold With Bananas

If you’ve been here since the beginning of Book Riot, or follow Liberty Hardy, you probs already know of the hilarious horror that exists inside this 1970s cookbook, which someone should really get on the set of HBO Max’s Minx! I love bananas by themselves and that’s it, so this isn’t a book for me to start with. BUT this also may just not be a book for anyone when you actually look at its images — the banana candle being the pièce de résistance! Bonus: please enjoy Liberty attempting to make the banana candle. Sorry, not sorry!

Recipes include: Banana Sausages, Banana and Fish Salad (I just threw-up in my mouth a little.)

cover image for Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!

Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine! by Chris Maynard, Bill Scheller

My first four thoughts, not necessarily in this order:

1. Health inspector’s nightmare.

2. So much foil — the poor environment.

3. Someone is getting food poisoning?

4. Perfect Father’s Day gift for many dads.

Recipes include: Nifty Naffta Nachos, Hyundai Halibut with Fennel

cover image The Original Road Kill Cookbook

The Original Road Kill Cookbook by Buck Peterson, J. Angus Mclean (Illustrator)

Speaking of “someone is getting food poisoning,” this is just a big no for me. I got as far into researching this book as seeing “pavement possum” on the cover and headed out. And by out, I mean pouring bleach into my eyes and hoping it funnels into my brain where it can erase all knowledge of this.

Recipes include: I refuse to look so y’all are on your own.

cover image for Cooking in the Nude For Men Only

Cooking in the Nude: For Men Only by Debbie Cornwell, Stephen Cornwell

I am super confused. To start with the title: is the “For men only” meaning only men are supposed to cook naked in the kitchen? Or the naked chef is only supposed to cook for men? Or is everyone involved supposed to be male and naked? Either way, unhygienic if the naked people are cooking the food. And, more importantly, who wants an oil splatter burn on their privates? I once dropped a knife in the kitchen and was like wow, wearing flip-flops while cooking could potentially be dangerous, so imagine having a meat sword flopping around the place — nope, take that back don’t want to imagine.

Recipes include: Strip Tease

cover image for Dali Les Diners de Gala

Dalí. Les dîners de Gala edited by TASCHEN

I clearly view surrealism differently than the creators of this cookbook: “Food and surrealism make perfect bedfellows: sex and lobsters, collage and cannibalism, the meeting of a swan and a toothbrush on a pastry case.” Basically, you can keep the cannibalism out of my cookbooks no matter how much I love art.

Recipes include: Frog Pasties, Thousand Year Old Eggs

cover image for The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide

The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide by Lauren Wilson, Kristian Bauthus

This is set up to be helpful no matter how you plan on surviving the zombie apocalypse: “Whether you decide to hole up in your own home or bug out into the wilderness, whether you prefer to scavenge the dregs of society or try your hand at apocalyptic agriculture, and regardless of your level of skill or preparation…” But I’m gonna go with live off packaged food instead of cooking to reduce time spent on things that aren’t killing zombies or running away from zombies.

Recipes include: The Wok-ing Dead Stir-fry, I Want My Mommy Casserole

cover image for Alien cookbook

Alien Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland

If you like to be creeped the-F out while eating, I guess bon appétit. I personally would be too concerned that something in this book is going to launch itself at me. Or recreate the Beetlejuice dinner scene. Or, ya know, lay bebe alien eggs in the food that are then going to grow in everyone’s body.

Recipes include: Invasion of Pot Pies, Alien Queen Empanadas

cover image for Suck My Cookbook: Clean Recipes for Dirty Minds

Suck My Cookbook: Clean Recipes for Dirty Minds (A Coloring Book) by Cherrie Poppins (Author), Wild Billy (Illustrator)

Do you stare at recipes in cookbooks and think, “Ah, if only every single recipe in this book was somehow sexualized”? And, “I wish this recipe had an image that could be colored in, like say a torso with a bunch of asparagus sticking out of their tighty-whities”? Yeah, me neither. But maybe if you were planning a party or event for a foodie where everyone wanted to be pervy and make a lot of jokes you would?

Recipes Include: Pork Swords, Tagine de Vagine

Now if I’ve left you hungry (?) and wanting non-ridiculous cookbooks there are plenty of those.