There are those cookbooks -- an awful lot of them in recent Food Network years, it seems -- that you pick up and immediately set back down. Then you scout for something of substance to pick up by, say, Diana Kennedy or Harold McGee, to pretend that momentary Rachel Ray EVOO moment never happened. OK, maybe only we do that, which is why we weren't expecting to like Mosh Potatoes (yeah, yeah, we get it) by Steve "Buckshot" Seabury. Particularly when we read that the book is divided into chapters titled "Opening Acts" (appetizers), "Headliners" (entrees) and "Encores" (surprise, surprise -- desserts), not to mention all the metal recipes already out there on YouTube.
And yet, watch this video (turn the page), and it's hard not to secretly dig this book, even if the recipes aren't exactly live concert-worthy.
For starters, the subtitle isn't stretching the truth as so many seem to do. "Recipes, Anecdotes and Mayhem from the Heavyweights of Heavy Metal" really is what this book is all about. Nor is it a singular heavy metal road food perspective from Moth Eater band member Seabury. He calls himself the editor here, a former "snot-nosed little punk" who learned to cook by college dorm-room necessity, and later, with his band buddies on the road. And so the recipes are as curiously eclectic as metal bands.
Consider "Mama Nudo's tortellini a la rose" by Priestess singer Vince Nudo (cheese tortellini in a pancetta-fresh tomato cream sauce). Seabury describes the dish, really a pretty basic recipe, as so good, "we would have sacrificed our souls for this pasta dish." Granted, being forced into "shitty ass Subway restaurants" after months on the road might have something to do with Seabury's unbridled praise.
No, the recipes aren't revolutionary. These are musicians bound to a life on a road, not one behind the stove. But it's a pretty addictive flip-through with that inexpensive paperback charm and a multi-page insert of candid photos, like one of Quiet Riot's Frankie Banali digging into linguine with clams and mushrooms (yes, there are a lot of pasta, pizza and burger recipes in this book). Banali says the recipe "originated in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily" and was "handed down by example" by his father -- pretty endearing coming from the stone-faced rocker. Or Life of Agony's "Joey Z" looking charmingly preppy in his home kitchen sporting a baseball cap as he prepares his stuffed lobsters "zampella." He stuffs live lobsters with fresh shrimp, scallops and crab, but calling for imitation crab seems like an odd choice among all of that fresh, expensive seafood. Then again, this is also a Ritz cracker breadcrumb fine dining affair.
And that's exactly where this cookbook loses a touch of its charm. Do most of us need yet another basic guacamole, imitation crab-stuffed lobster, or weeknight meatloaf recipe? Probably not. Still, half of the recipes are so entertaining -- to read, at least -- the book is worth a flip-through. Among our favorites is when Ryan Roxie of Alice Cooper suggests we make his "Chocka-Corn" (it really is more of a suggestion than a traditional recipe). "For those of you who don't know what a Speedball is... good," he says in the recipe introduction. "I don't have to explain just how dark the 'dark side' of rock 'n' roll can get... but this recipe that I am about to bestow on you might even send the speediest of speed freaks running to their nearest Betty Ford clinic in search of a more. And the only cure is more Chocka-Corn."
What could this utterly amazing, addictive creation be? It is not some sort of revelatory pastry chef's creation, but a bag of microwave popcorn and Raisinettes (of course it is). We'd hand over the full recipe, but there isn't really any reason to -- Roxie basically gives a monologue on the joys of sugar and salt. But in case you're curious, here is the condensed version of his Chocka-Corn recipe. Trust us, the two-page original version, which includes an "epilogue" is a really, really long riff.
Ryan Roxie's Chocka-Corn
Adapted from: Mosh Potatoes by Steve Seabury.
Serves: Presumably one, at least if you're a starving heavy metal rocker like Roxie.
1 bag microwave popcorn
1 10-ounce box (at the very least, you wimp!!) chocolate-covered raisins (Raisinettes being the brand of choice... wait a second, are there any other brands?!)
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1. Carefully read the directions on how to pop the popcorn, and then do so.
2. Open the box of Raisinettes.... keep 'em [popcorn and Raisinettes] separated... until it is time to experience the bittersweet - I mean salty-sweet - sensation of a lifetime, or at least the duration of whatever crappy DVD you just rented.
3. Place popcorn in mouth (hopefully yours, unless it's one of 'those' DVDs), and then follow it with a Raisinette. Let both mix and melt until it becomes a raging, ravishing, taste-bud orgy inside you.