How often have you eaten something that’s caused you to say, “Oh, this reminds me of my grandma,” or “I used to eat this all the time as a kid”? Foods often evoke taste memories linked to fond childhood moments with family.
Though they seem bright and shiny in glossy tabloid magazines, celebrities feel this way about food as well (most of them, at least). They also spent those young, formative years eating and creating memories with food.
This, and the fact that he had Iron Chef Cat Cora on board, was the reason that Nick Katsoris, author of an award-winning children’s book series, decided to create an illustrated cookbook filled with celebrities’ favorite childhood recipes. (Loukoumi's Celebrity Cookbook is his fifth children’s book featuring Loukoumi the lamb, whose name is fittingly inspired by a type of Greek candy.)
After speaking and brainstorming with Cora, Katsoris figured that if she had a favorite childhood recipe, then other celebrities might also. From there, he set out contacting publicists and sending out blind emails hoping to get recipes, and, perhaps because of the charitable aspect — a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each of these books is donated to Chefs for Humanity (Cat Cora’s charity) as well as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — the recipes came pouring in.
So what types of recipes were there? For the most part, Katsoris says that many were family recipes that had been passed down, but there were also concoctions that people made up that remind them of being young, like Gloria Gaynor’s Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Taylor Swift's Chocolate Crackers.
And as recipes have a nostalgic appeal to them, especially comfort-type foods, they can help us remember people that we've lost. Al Roker, for instance, in his recipe for Sweet Potato Poon mentions, “This is something my Mom used to make every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though she’s gone now, every time I make it, it reminds me of my mother.”
We learn that, like us, celebrities also love comfort foods that remind them of their childhoods or family members, like Jay Leno's Uncle Louie's Chicken Wings Marinara recipe or Katie Couric's recipe for Lemon Squares that she loves to make with her kids.
But the book also shows us that eating the foods you love is fun, and that's an important aspect of cooking. The book's lesson, in fact, is to teach kids that cooking is enjoyable, and, though challenging at times, is worthwhile.
Cute, animated, and lighthearted, the book is meant to make kids happy. And it works for adults, too.