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The Bamboo Cooks Paperback – April 1 1997

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House Canada (April 1 1997)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 112 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0679308377
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0679308379
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 295 g
  • Customer Reviews:
    5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating

Product description


The BamBoo Cooks! presents readers (and reviewer) with a number of problem. Take away the ground from a text, what's to figure? I don't go to clubs; never have. I've eaten in the BamBoo, a carefully crappy-looking dive on Queen West, once (details below). No matter. Despite the BamBoo's historical importance to the street-and-music life of Toronto during the past fifteen years, a host of people living elsewhere in Canada and reading this notice or the book written by the club's founders and owners have not seen and may never bother to experience the noisy, spicy delights of that cheerfully grotty lounge.

So what will help us conjure what we're missing? Recipes apposing mainly the best-known dishes from three regions or cuisines: Caribbean, Indonesian, and Thai (the BamBoo must sell a lot of beer); a potted history of the past generation of a few Toronto boomer clubs; as many of the Toronto artist Barbara Klunder's jaunty cartoons, with calligraphy, as you could possibly want at one sitting, all at once and in colour.

"We have always envisioned a club that would be very relaxed, Third World and low tech," the authors remember, adding right away their thanks for the mob loan (sounds like)—"at one hundred percent interest"—that helped get the doors open. From the beginning, the room has attracted many excellent musicians, from all over the world, playing in a great fan of styles.

From the beginning too, the taste as much as the sound has defined the BamBoo, at home and away. (Catherine O'Hara, down in Los Angeles, is always hyping the place, she claims in her opening blurb; and David Bowie heads there when he comes to town.) O'Brien and Habib deserve credit for being able to spot and nurture culinary talent. The first cooks, Vera Khan (Caribbean food) and Wandee Young (Thai cooking), put their stamp on this book, perhaps more than anyone else. It's a bit chocked up anyway, with informative and often funny in-crowd sidebars and recipe heads by and about former and current employees. This gossip, this, well, clubbishness—there's O'Hara's intro, most typically, and the illustrations, which dance right into the text, turn each page into a visual party-aims to include, not to get snotty and hyper-chic.

As for the food? It's club or party food, certainly, not high-end cookery, but of its sort, not to be scorned at all. The wings at the BamBoo (the recipe's here, Dieu merci) are the best my wife and I have ever inhaled-streets ahead of those from the wing mecca, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo.

A quibble: Some—no, more than some—like it hot at the BamBoo. The recipe testers ought to have included the word optional in prescriptions calling for scotch bonnet peppers or a tablespoon or more of crushed chiles. Some of us are old farts, after all, and even if we aren't, we're Canadian (less heat here, please, less sweat is needed to cool us, north of 44).

Alternatively (and that's what this book is about, an alternative), if you don't live in Toronto, you might not get to Queen West, this year or next. You can still call the fire department, crank up Ziggy Marley or the Mighty Sparrow, and cook Jerk Chicken or Thai Spicy Noodles, those fine provisions, full tilt, in your own once and futurely quiet kitchens, yearning a little for the south or the dark insides of the BamBoo, "deep in the heart of the Canadian tropics"; where, as Catherine O'Hara observes, "it's so far south of the equator it's north," where "winter doesn't even exist."

Ted Whittaker (Books in Canada) -- Books in Canada

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Reviewed in Canada on May 9, 2021
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