In my quest to hoard, er collect cookbooks, I have been borrowing them by the armful from my local libraries…sorta try before you buy, you dig? One recent book in my library haul is the 2014 published “Thug Kitchen: eat like you give a f*ck,” the official cookbook of the blog by the same name.
So what is the deal with Thug Kitchen?
Thug Kitchen is “…the only website dedicated to verbally abusing you into a healthier diet.” Both the site and the book are full of f bombs and other swears designed to make healthier food fun. However, after reading through the site and book a while the premise is tiresome. It’s akin to eavesdropping on a bunch of suburban kids clumped together on SEPTA as they roll to their Philly concert: a lot of gratuitous swearing that sometimes makes you giggle but an attempt to appear edgy and gritty mostly sounds utterly ridiculous.
Admittedly I had not read the Thug Kitchen blog, so I was surprised to learn that this site is focused on plant based foods and encouraging people to eat better; I really love that. The recipes actually seem possible and are not full of ingredients that find me scratching my head as I try to figure what they are and where I could possibly buy them.
Throughout the book, alongside the recipes are tips and nuggets. “Dropping Knowledge” offers some, well knowledge, about the why behind the what. Why eat breakfast? Why tofu or tempeh? There is “Basic Sh!t”, like how to roast garlic or how to create a veggie stock; things that a cook may need to know while burning in the kitchen all in a convenient place. As both sections offer great advice and tidbits, the charm of these sections wore off quickly as it seemed redundant and a cheap excuse for yet another curse word.
Then there is the name…”Thug.” While thug has been used a means to denigrate my people (Black folks for those not in the know) I initially thought that I could let the name slide because, you know, the idea of a renegade cook, someone who is not playing by the rules of those stuffy, formal cooking schools, is making healthy food accessible to all seemed like a win for all. However, the arrogance of the authors to think their superfluous use of f bombs seems more of a gimmick and a horrible caricature of what they think someone Black sounds like.
Don’t get me wrong; I can cuss with the best of them but this book…they’re trying so, oh so hard to be hip? cool? it? and after a while the premise is tired and boring. This leads me ago wonder if the swearing in this book is celebrated because the authors are White. It’s deliciously naughty for two good white kids to pepper recipes with salty language but would this book (and blog) be a thing if the Thugs behind “Thug Kitchen” were [insert stereotypical Black names] instead of Matt and Michelle [which could be “Black” names but for the sake of this post roll with me].
So while there are a few recipes that I think I may give a try, I won’t be so quick to add this book to my collection. I may consider borrowing it again from my local library but only should I get a desire for some bad language, other than my fussing when cooking.