ESQUIRE EATS: How to Feed Your Friends and Lovers

Francine Maroukian, Author , foreword by David Granger. Sterling/Hearst Books $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-58816-243-4

It should come as no surprise that the men's magazine known for coaching readers on how to dress to impress and entertain friends with erudite cocktail party conversation has now come up with a book explaining how to woo guests with food. Maroukian, an Esquire contributor and former New York caterer, makes no bones about her mannish culinary tastes: a "confirmed carnivore," she confesses, "As far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as bad bacon." Her cookbook, while not the most comprehensive tome for the home cook's reference shelf, does offer a good number of solid dishes that are guaranteed to make an impression. Walking a fine line between snippy ("Never use the term 'finger foods' unless you are Hannibal Lecter") and sympathetic (lamb shanks "will work for... those times when you want to move a relationship a little closer"), Maroukian explains how to prepare a number of meals for various occasions: small dinner parties for two to four people; larger gatherings and buffets; and low-key get-togethers. Her tastes tend toward the masculine; most recipes feature meat (a vegetarian—"if you have occasion to invite such a creature into your home"—can eat sides instead of the main dish) and are no-frills. That's not to say, however, that they aren't appetizing. Among the highlights are Smoky Chili with Toppings, Peppered Tuna, Spinach with Garlic, and Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Orange and Olive Gremolata. Sidebars on setting the mood (with candles, music, etc.) add further value to this civilized man's guide to being cultured in the kitchen. Agent, Laura Blake Peterson. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
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