Eat, Pimp, Love: One Ghetto Gourmet’s Search for Everything
by Dewey Booklover
This post marks a first in PSBC history. I have been given the privilege and responsibility of reviewing the first-ever cookbook. When I heard I was getting assigned a cookbook my heart dropped; I’ve been on the internet long enough to know how dark that road can get. Luckily this cookbook uses ingredients you can find at a grocery store and doesn’t require planning and physical effort to obtain. The book is Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price.
In 2008, Coolio had a reality TV show called Coolio’s Rules, which documented Coolio raising four teenagers while also trying to balance work life and his love life. About six minutes into the first episode Coolio informs the viewer that his rap career isn’t going to last forever, and he has a lot of mouths to feed. Coolio is apparently a gourmet chef, and Coolio Catering is open for business. This very reasonable life decision turns immediately surreal when a minute later into the episode he screams “I AM THE GHETTO GOURMET BABY” after being corrected on the usage of the word “coagulate” to describe combining flavours by a radio host. GET THIS GUY A COOKBOOK ALREADY. You are also introduced to Jarez, Coolio’s bodyguard and now his sous-chef, but I would say he’s more of a culinary hype-man who’s main job is to yell ingredients really loud after Coolio mentions them, and do kind of a sloppy job at following instructions.
I could only find the first episode on youTube, but since the third episode is called “Cookin’ with Coolio” it would stand to reason that Coolio cooking continues to be a staple of the plot. This logically led to an offshoot web-series called “Cookin’ with Coolio” which took that “I AM THE GHETTO GOURMET” moment from the above episode and really ran with it. In the second instalment where Coolio teaches you how to make marinated steak, they seemingly kidnap a “regular joe” off the street, DUCT TAPE HIS ENTIRE HEAD and then aggressively force him to learn how to make marinated steak. The entire scene is bizarre. Imagine if you made a DIY Halloween costume of the gimp from Pulp Fiction, dressed your friend in it and then filmed a cooking show. Or you can see for yourself:
I could go on and on about the insanity shown in the webseries but the videos speak for themselves, so I strongly suggest giving a couple a watch. The companion cookbook is what I am actually supposed to be reviewing, so let’s get started. Let’s start with the aesthetics – firstly the cover. Why didn’t they use a picture of Coolio actually cooking? There are pictures of him cooking INSIDE the book, but they decided to go the Photoshop route for the cover instead.
The photoshop work is good…kind of? At first glance, anyway. The cutout of Coolio is fairly well done, placing him nicely in a strange dystopian kitchen that they apparently rented hourly from Mr. Clean. The integrated stove-turntable is also oddly believable, despite the obvious problems with having your precious vinyl so close to open flame. The real problem is with his right hand, which apparently is cooking up some eggs and bacon flambe’, a recipe that doesn’t appear in the cookbook or real life. The eggs and bacon are done Coolio, get them off the burner and out of those flames, you’re just asking for hard yolks and I can already see signs of burning on the bacon. BUT I DIGRESS. The strange aesthetic of the cover is carried into the book itself, and has almost a Cooking for Dummies type vibe, with weird large type and primary blue colour palette. I also don’t appreciate the look that Coolio is giving me on the cover as if to say “I don’t think you can handle this cookbook”
The fact that Coolio’s cooking show is on a website called “My Damn Channel” instead of say, the Food Network, would indicate that world is not ready for Coolio’s style of teaching. It could be the kidnapping of duct-tape-head-guy, or Coolio saying that his steak “tastes better than your mamma’s titties”, but I think it is mostly the lack of any sort of creativity or originality in the recipes. The recipes are fine if you have literally never cooked before, but they are basically recipes you would learn begrudgingly in 8th grade home ec class. But instead of “Caprese salad” it’s “Coolio Caprese salad.” Furthermore, the writeups before each recipe really prove that you won’t be seeing Coolio on the cooking channel anytime soon. “Drunk ass chicken” is one of my favourites; Coolio makes sure to let you know that he doesn’t tolerate drunk driving, but since chickens can’t drive we should “keep em’ fucked up twenty-four hours a day” and “stumbling around like Mariah Carey”. Coolio then offers some notes on the movie Chicken Run, suggesting that there should have been a local chicken bar that Mel Gibson could have picked up “all the hens.” Chicken Run came out in 2000, this book was released in 2009, so not only is it a Chicken Run reference, its a dated one.
The book is littered with these strange quips and musings from Coolio, you can tell he’s trying to be funny (I think) but really missing the mark. Culinary hype-man also has his own quips included as asides, some of them are cooking tips, some of them sound like a drunk family member standing in the kitchen yelling while they think their helping. Some gems:
- “this is gonna make the chicken taste completely nuts!” -Jarez on using peanut butter in a chicken stir-fry.
- “ten droppings equal 1/2 cup for all ye landlubbers!” – Jarez on using “droppings” of barbeque sauce
- “Remember that the quickest way to a lady’s heart is through properly prepared and presented food. So serve this dish up on a nice, white dish with some olive oil drizzled around the edges of the plate. Soon she’ll be havin’ some of you for dessert!” – Jarez on love
- “We ain’t making meatballs, so be sure to flatten them out like a patty” – Jarez on making hamburger patties
- “Chicken and turkey sausages are great ways to reduce the fat in your ass” – Jarez on dieting
- “If you don’t got yourself a wooden spoon, then go ahead and use a plastic spoon or metal one” – Jarez on wooden spoons
The beginning of the book is stocked full of great kitchen tips, and very easy to read because Coolio condenses them into ”The Ten Cool-mandments.” They start off fairly sane: spend time in the kitchen, cook for friends, don’t waste food and always wash your hands. Then it leads to a very questionable piece of advice about sauce girls, who help around the kitchen “providing everything from seasonings to sexiness.” This truly is the thread that runs through the whole book, basic kitchen advice mixed with anecdotes that range from questionable to offensive. Exhibit A: the ways that Coolio tells you to beat two eggs throughout the book:
- 2 eggs, beat them like a motherfucker who crossed you
- 2 eggs, beaten like a red-headed stepchild
- 2 eggs, beaten like a midget in a snowstorm
- 2 eggs, beaten like Michael Richards at a Katt Williams show
- 2 eggs, beaten (about 4 times near the end of the book, they definitely ran out of ideas)
This is only a symptom of a bigger problem, the fact that Coolio had this book made in the first place. It has no reason to exist other than propping up Coolio as a cooking celebrity while bringing nothing else to the table. Craig Ferguson also endorses the book on the back cover, and due to my personal vendetta against him, that’s just another strike against it. Is this book the worst? Not even close. Is it a piece of shit™? I will say yes. It fills a niche that didn’t really exist, people who want honest recipes sprinkled with sexual innuendo and fairly aggressive instructions. This isn’t to say that every cookbook should have a vanilla Jamie Oliver beaming at you on the cover, but when you measure dry ingredients in dime bags, you’re not really swimming in the mainstream.