Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife


Well, I did promise you a review of this book by Nava Atlas.

At first glance, I could see this was no ordinary recipe book!  The cover promises recipes for Gender Role Casserole, Psychotherapy Pie, Old Boyfriend Buffet and Happily-Ever-After Ambrosia.  This is a recipe book for marriage, from the engagement through to either happily-ever-after or divorce and beyond.

The fifties-style artwork sets the tone, with smiling coiffed housewives and old-recipe-card type meals.

The chapters include Recipes for Accommodation, Recipes for Trouble, Recipes for Disaster and Recipes for Reconciliation and Romance.  Things start out well with the Sweethearts’ Engagement Buffet (ingredients include 6 cups all-purpose societal and cultural expectations, a generous slab of prenuptial bliss and relief, 1 overflowing case of sugarcoated wedding fantasies, among other things).  The instructions tell us to combine expectations with the first blush of engagement and relief that we can quit the hellish dating scene forever!

Things quickly go downhill with Shrimp Cocktail with a Rather Disappointing Sauce, to Way Too Much on Your Plate to Completely Fried Wife with Toast of Total Exhaustion.  Wittily pointing out some of the pitfalls of our relationships with our men, Nava mixes up some amusing dishes.

I especially like the Banana and Sweet Potato Tango.  This requires “one medium or small (ha!) banana and one lovely sweet potato.  Cut the banana and sweet potato any way you wish, but recognise that no matter how you cut them, even in this day and age, the banana’s job, opinions and preferences almost always take precedence over the sweet potato’s.”

Many women will recognise themselves or their husbands and even their mothers-in-law in this book (don’t miss the Mother-in-law Fruitcake).

I am glad to say that I am blessed with a happy marriage and this book would perhaps be better suited to those who have had or are having problems, who can laugh shamelessly at the criticisms of male behaviour.

My husband is, according to this book, like good corn – he has maturity, tenderness, consistency and endurance.  So I suppose I could say he’s corny!

The book ends on a more optimistic note with A Fairly Satisfactory Family Stew and Happily-Ever-After Ambrosia (Serves to Inspire Hope in an Age of Cynicism).  This is a delicious concoction made from fresh coconut, harmony, pineapple rings and candied fruit, affection and mutual respect, glistening cubes of ruby red gelatin, security and support, mint ice cream, children who turn out well, rich frosting and whipped cream toppings, lasting love and happiness and lots of chocolate syrup.

A recommended read and an excellent gift for your female friends.

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