I can’t cook.
A few years ago though, I had the semi-crushing revelation that it’s not that I don’t know much about cooking, it’s that I legitimately can’t cook. I’m terrible at it. No piece of chicken would go uncooked to a leathery dryness that couldn’t even be passed as “jerk.” No meat sauce could be made properly spiced, just prepared with the desperate hope that crushed red pepper and more tomato paste could cure anything. It was my wife that graciously brought me the knowledge that I wasn’t just not-so-great at cooking, but I legitimately cannot cook to save my life or the lives of whatever poor group I was cooking for. I thank her for coaxing out this revelation of myself (and for being an amazing cook).
I do, however, like cartoons. And the good news is that Bob’s Burgers isn’t a show about cooking, it’s a show about family and it’s quickly grown into one of the best shows on TV. Bob’s Burgers treads an amazing line between strange and sweet, highlighting the ridiculous exploits of the Belcher clan, a family of oddballs who love each other and are continually misunderstood by the rest of the world while running a small, boardwalk burger shop. Over the past few seasons each character has been fleshed out into people more real than anything you’ll find on your average lawyer or cop show. And it’s a lot funnier than most episodes of NCIS.
The show’s success has prompted a good sized following, and when one member of fandom created a Tumblr dedicated to creating or recreating the fanciful burgers listed in each episode as The Burger of the Day fans were naturally interested. The creators of the show were just as tickled and soon partnered with its creator to create this lovely book that’s perfect for any fans of the show or adventurous burgers in general. You only need to bring an appetite, some buns, and a very healthy love of puns.
The book contains Cole Bowden’s recipes for dozens of burgers, lovingly written up by creator Loren Bouchard and the writers of the show and featuring side dishes of show art and jokey asides that any fan can enjoy. The recipes run the gamut from the more ordinary (like the “Is This Your Chard? Burger” with Swish chard, caramelized onions, and creamy cheese), to the fanciful (such as the “Beets of Burden Burger” which features a dill-seasoned burger topped with a sautéed carrot and beet mix with smooth sour cream).
The recipes are fun to read and fun to make, even if my attempt to recreate the “Baby You Can Chive My Car Burger” looked more like a three car pileup than something anyone would like to eat. But that’s not the book’s fault; like Bob one must be willing to try and try again, no matter how much humiliation the Louises, Genes, Lindas, and Tinas in your life may pile upon you, like so much Sriracha mayonnaise. So next spring I’m prepared to break out the grill and spatula again and give it another go with this delightful cookbook, which I think would make a great addition to any cook’s library. The book is fun enough to read on its own, but it also may help some of us even attain the skills that only the Bob's in each of our lives have (both on the grill and in the ability to put up with a pretty crazy family and town).
So in conclusion, I’ll leave you with a bit of wisdom from the book itself that may help you along your culinary path: “Don’t have a fishmonger? Get one. Who are you going to trust to mong your fish if not a fishmonger.” Truly words that I and anyone who’s ever dressed up like a burger or written a song about zombie butts can live by.
The Bob's Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers
by Loren Bouchard and the Writers of Bob’s Burgers
2016, 128 pages, 6.6 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches, Hardcover
$13 Buy one on Amazon