You’ll never hear Rachael Ray talking about her secret desire to commit cannibalism. Nor are you likely to get tips from Emeril on how to stage a Bacchanalian orgy. Relax – Stefan Gates is here to fill the void left by popular culture’s more timid personalities.
In his book Gastronaut, Gates discusses all facets of the art, science and passion of eating. That includes the eating of other human beings (and the feasibility of eating certain parts), as well as less taboo subjects, such as aphrodisiacs, the benefits and drawbacks of gilding your food and how to recreate historical meals (e.g. the Last Supper and the aforementioned Bacchanalian feast).
Yes, he also includes recipes and these, too, range from the mildly bizarre yet appealing (sandwiches that the diner “cooks” by sitting on them) to the deeply intimidating (making headcheese, pit roasting a pig, lamb or goat). Gates, obviously, is someone who is consumed by food. He thinks about all the aspects of one the most important yet controversial components of human existence.
He is someone who isn’t afraid to eat and cook in dramatically different ways, all in the spirit of more fully appreciating the gastronomic arts. He is also wonderfully funny and enjoyable to read. For instance, he has an entire chapter on, um, flatulence and which foods make one more prone to wind-passing. In the interest of science, Gates spent a whole day consuming only flatulence-producing foods. Again, not something that a Food Network star is likely to attempt.
All in all, Gastronaut is a hoot and should provide aspiring gourmands with lots of ideas and inspiration.