For Bob Blumer, otherwise known as the Surreal Gourmet, cooking is less a craft and more performance art. In Off the Eaten Path , Blumer forgoes traditional tools and cooking methods for the extremely unconventional, like using a dishwasher to poach fish, a car engine to sizzle shrimp, and an iron to literally press a toasted cheese sandwich to crispness. Blumer wants to shock you, and if such recipes as Blackened Home-Fried Potatoes from Hell, Pyrotechnic Pineapple, and Love Me Tenderloin don't get his point across, the chapter on "Surreal Meals" certainly will. Here, appearances are meant to deceive: salmon has been cut to look like carrots, melon and prosciutto arranged to resemble ham and eggs, and pound cake cut into "fries" and served with a squeeze bottle of raspberry "ketchup." In light of all this, Off the Eaten Path seems less a cookbook than a novelty item you'll keep on your coffee table or give as a gag gift. And so it is, but you'll definitely be amused. --Sumi Hahn Almquist
Known as the Surreal Gourmet, Blumer is one wacky guy--the cover features him riding a unicycle-cum-egg beater, and he has been known to poach salmon in the dishwasher. The author of two previous cookbooks, he has appeared on the TV Food Network and is an artist as well; Off the Eaten Path is illustrated with his drawings and various culinary "objets d'art" he's created. Recipes are organized under headings such as Winner Dinners (e.g., a menu for Slammin' Salmon Extravaganza), Cinematic Suppers, Extreme Cuisine (the aforementioned dishwasher technique, along with grilled cheese sandwiches made on an iron, and more), and Surreal Meals (Pound Cake "Fries" with Raspberry "Catsup"). An entertaining book that should appeal to cooks with a sense of humor as well as Blumer's fans; for larger collections. Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.