The name Chop Sizzle Wow sounds vaguely like a Japanese cooking show, so I was surprised to discover that this delightful cookery and comix mash-up is actually derived from a classic 1950 Italian cookbook called Il Cucchiaio d'Argento, or The Silver Spoon. That grand work had 2,000 recipes, boiled down here to a svelte "50 step-by-step kitchen adventures."
This large-format cookbook is categorized into the usual suspects: appetizers, pasta, main courses, and desserts & baking. But the main difference from most cookbooks is that each recipe is presented in a page or two of sequential art. It's Mario Batali for the Marvel and DC crowd – or for anyone who learns best from visual aids. The illustrations, though, are less superhero and more quaintly utilitarian. These aren't the gorgeously rendered drawings in Cooks Illustrated, but they do the trick and fit the format. Aside from the occasional size relativity issue, it's quite clear what each of the illustrations is portraying, and they make it easy to envision the dish from start to finish. In an age of effortless photography, one has to marvel at the time taken to put each of these little drawings on paper.
The recipes are quite basic as well. Each set of ingredients is depicted at the top of the page and is a good reminder that tasty, wholesome food can be made with few ingredients and basic methods. There's no molecular gastronomy here to scare off the kitchen first-timers. Kids will no doubt enjoy learning with this book, and the slick splatter-resistant cover will keep the book looking good when they do. Further informational gems reside in the introduction and the back of the book: recipe notes, techniques in detail, glossary, index, and menu ideas. Will you like this book as much as I do? I cannoli hope so. – Aaron Downey