cover image Recipe for Disaster

Recipe for Disaster

Alison Riley. Chronicle, $27.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-79721-282-1

Debut author Riley brings together a star-studded but lackluster anthology of 40 essays and recipes responding to the prompt, “Can you name a low point, of any size and shape, and the food memory you associate with surviving it?” The responses tend to be fairly mild—only notable because famous people are relaying them—and the recipes themselves range wildly from the low-effort (writer Sam Irby’s “Rejection Chicken,” a casual curry which includes “unfollow your ex on social media” as one of its instructions) to the rather involved (restaurateurs Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo’s squid ink paella, which they served on a memorable New Year’s Eve to a party they later realized were tripping on mushrooms). Other contributors include comedian Chelsea Peretti, who delivers a pesto to cut through depression; record producer Bob Power, who recounts the high-end meal he enjoyed while waiting for the 2016 election results and then offers an unrelated cauliflower recipe; actor Bowen Yang, who expounds on his childhood love of dry mapo tofu; and writer Laurie Woolever, who relays a moving story of eating scrambled eggs while mourning her mentor, Anthony Bourdain, but then includes an unremarkable scrambled egg recipe. The essays just aren’t strong enough to bolster the recipes—and vice versa. (Mar.)