Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - RACHEL JA­GARESKI

Daniel Isen­gart, Jeremiah Tower (Con­trib­u­tor), Out­post19 (JUNE) Soft­cover $18.49 (350pp), 978-1-944853-49-5

In his de­li­ciously witty The Art of Gay Cook­ing, Daniel Isen­gart serves up a mem­oir with recipes from his youth in France and Ger­many and from his ex­ten­sive trav­els with his hus­band, artist Filip No­ter­daeme. The book is a con­tem­po­rary homage to The Alice B. Tok­las Cook Book, with its ground­break­ing blend of au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and cook­ing in­struc­tion, el­e­vat­ing the prepa­ra­tion of meals in the “safe har­bor” of home to an art form.

The book is or­ga­nized by themes from Isen­gart’s bo­hemian life, from his days as a cabaret per­former in 1990s and 2000s New York City to child­hood mem­o­ries of hol­i­day sweets. Isen­gart’s prose ex­plores “the idea that gay men have a clan­des­tinely par­tic­u­lar ap­proach to cook­ing,” and each chap­ter ex­u­ber­antly re­lates mem­o­rable meals and ad­ven­tures re­plete with ec­cen­tric char­ac­ters and recipes from many cul­tural tra­di­tions.

The au­thor dishes about work­ing for fussy “al­ler­gic” so­cialites who won’t eat, S&M din­ner par­ties, and the noisy chaos that came ahead of per­fect Hamp­tons week­ends. Isen­gart’s com­men­tary on Amer­i­can food cul­ture is es­pe­cially ir­rev­er­ent, as are his opin­ions of com­pet­i­tive cook­ing for en­ter­tain­ment and “ag­gres­sive en­trepreneuri­al­ism.”

In an­other nod to Tok­las, Isen­gart al­ways for­mally refers to No­ter­daeme (whose de­light­ful il­lus­tra­tions festoon the pages) by his full name. His story of their years to­gether is full of af­fec­tion, ad­mi­ra­tion, and hu­mor. As fi­nal gar­nish, rang­ing recipes from the cou­ple’s wide cir­cle of friends, from dancers Jock Soto and Tommy Tune to per­for­mance artist Penny Ar­cade, in­clude home com­fort clas­sics, haute cui­sine, and Butch Tea (fairies like it pip­ing hot sipped dain­tily from espresso cups, the book says, while butch queens gulp it cold from mugs). Though Isen­gart and No­ter­daeme may never be well heeled, this book de­scribes their life to­gether as one that is very rich in­deed.

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