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There are many really great reviews of Mad Hungry posted on the right side of this blog. So, when this one came along it intrigued me and I thought I’d share it. Thoughts anyone?

book serve boys without doing a disservice to girls?

Lucinda Scala Quinn

Lucinda Scala Quinn has spent a lot of her career cooking for women. And not just any women, but Martha Stewart’s women—the types who watch Martha’s , Everyday Food on PBS or snip recipes from Martha Stewart Living, both of which Quinn oversees as the head of the company’s food group. Needless to say, cocktail parties all over Connecticut wouldn’t be the same without her.

In her family life, however, Quinn has cooked only for men. She grew up with only brothers and went on to have three children, all of them boys. Her newish cookbook, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys (Artisan), is filled with the recipes she’s employed to satiate the guys in her life. And as the title suggests, it’s also filled with enough stereotypes to knock the wind out of any proper liberal-arts-school graduate.

As a graduate of the school of liberalism (Oberlin, to be specific), I paraded the book past friends and coworkers, damning it for trafficking in ideas that were supposed to be dead by now. I was offended on multiple counts: on behalf of women, who the book seems to suggest should be spending all their time cooking food that’s not for them. On behalf of men, since the book is full of only “big” food—Asian chicken wings, chocolate pudding, skirt steaks (our Neanderthal-like palate couldn’t possibly be refined enough to appreciate food more delicate). And, especially, on behalf of young people.

This is a cookbook for families, but I shudder to think about the dynamics in a family that takes the book too literally. Food doesn’t discriminate against kids of either gender—“Big flavors are seductive for everybody,” Quinn aptly put it over the phone—but kids eventually learn to discriminate against it. Often it’s a vague notion of “society” that’s blamed for making girls grow into teenagers who obsess over their weight (and boys who grow up to eat lunches of Slim Jims and Red Bull). But in a house where pork chops are identified as “boy food,” it’s pretty clear where “society” is seeping in. And it won’t take long until it seeps past the dinner table.

It’s certainly not Quinn’s intention to push boys toward “boy’s food” and girls toward “girl’s.” (She told me that had this been a book about feeding girls, the book would have many of the same recipes.) She just thinks it’s a little silly of us to pretend that boys and girls eat the same way. “I think it’s entirely PC not to reach into some of the ways we’re different, and classify, describe and understand things,” she says. Quinn isn’t trying to create a divide with this book—simply to address it.

She’s smart to do so, but Mad Hungry participates too willingly in the problematic framework to really effect any change. That’s not to say it’s not a good cookbook. In fact, it’s much the opposite: After talking smack about it for a few days, I found myself seduced by the gorgeous photos and the simple and enticing recipes. Quinn had not just stirred my liberal sensibilities—she had induced a pang, a primal hunger for a meaty, family-style dinner. The shame is that if the book had a different conceit, it would likely evoke the same feeling in women.

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys is available at

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  • GardenGuyKenn January 11, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Oh, for the love of…. *rolls eyes* I'm sorry.. this review just deserves an eye roll and little else. Why is my gut instinct telling me that Mr. Tamarkin *loves* to hear himself talk? If this book 'stirred his liberal sensibilities' I'd hate to see what the evening news does to him… At least he said it was a good cookbook through all the other nonsense.

  • Bobby January 12, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I think this is a great review. I completely share its sentiments.

  • LUCINDA SCALA QUINN January 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Hey Bobby,Are you a man or a woman if you don't mind me asking. Thanks for posting.LSQ

  • Maureen January 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I'm a mom (yup, a girl) of a boy and girl and am not in the least offended by the title. As a busy mom, I am grateful for all recipes my picky family will be willing to eat. I am looking forward to making the flattened roast chicken that I saw made on Martha Stewart, not feeling like I am cooking a meal not meant for me!

  • My Love is..... January 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    OMG I agree with the eye rolling… did they read the book. You frequently mention girls and other family members. You also talk about other non-female family members cooking the meals. Not to mention attention to salads etc…. As a mama to 2 boys I jumped on this one as a more creative way to get more veges, protein and healthful carbs into my babes but mainly I bought it because I love your segments on Martha. Stereotyping, pc, whatever! this book is a great read full of healthful recipes!

  • Adrienne January 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Received this book from my husband for Christmas. I had asked for another cookbook; your title and imagery pulled him in. I LOVE the book and as a "sorta feminist, but not in a bad way :)" type, I find the title totally unoffensive. Made the Italian Fries and Hanger Steak for dinner last night. Called dibs on the leftover fries and ate them for lunch today. This book and this food is as much for women as men.Thank you!!

  • Anonymous January 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Lucinda, I received your cookbook for Christmas, because I asked for it, and cannot put it down. It was the best gift I received, even more so than the mac laptop I got! I am a wife to a guy that loves all food and mother to a 16 month old little boy. Okay, so there are cookbooks for all types of people out there. Your cookbook is simply meant to help those of us who love to cook delicious meals for our families, boys and girls. I grew up eating the same type of food as in your book only not quite as good. I consider myself pretty healthy. I eat organically. I would eat everything in this cookbook and plan on making just about everything in it. This person who has written this review seems to be on the lookout for stereotypes which may offend people. For goodness sake, he went to the school of liberalism. You wrote a cookbook based on what you know…cooking for men and boys. I think your cookbook is fabulous! I'll be waiting for the next one! Jodi

  • LUCINDA SCALA QUINN January 12, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    To everyone who took the time to post on this,Thanks for shoring up what I really feel about making this book. it;s helpful to hear from others. Folks, the reason I posted this is because it's not the first time I've been queried on this subject. And, I find it so interesting that by focusing on my experience with males, I seem to have ignited certain defenses in people. We are Americans can be such infants at times! So, stay tuned and I promise to keep you amused.Best to all,LSQ

  • mcs3000 January 13, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Just saw this post and I hope you don't mind if I weigh in too. REALLY? That was my first thought after reading the book review. I guess he missed some of your main points: 1) the joy of cooking for and with someone 2) sitting down with your family and sharing a meal means you get a chance to talk, listen and connect 3) to teach them to cook for themselves. Since the book is written by a woman and dedicated to another, change has already occurred. You and your mother are role models for women, girls, boys and men. And if that's not enough, he need only to read the epilogue when your boys speak. No book review can say it better. – Mary/SF

  • Anonymous January 13, 2010 at 10:29 am

    How does a person consider themselves a champion for feminism, standing up on behalf of women, when in fact all they are doing is putting women in another box? When did women’s rights come to a place that a woman couldn't be proud because she puts effort and love into cooking for the men in her life? All this attitude does is sets a different standard that a woman has to reach in order to be validated. Sixty years ago if a woman pursued a career outside her home, she was viewed as selfish and wrong, but the fact that Mr. Tamarkin writes a review such as this suggests that the feminist movement hasn't brought us as far as we would like to believe. Women's rights is about the right to make a choice, and there are a lot of women who choose to invest their time and effort into raising their family and caring for their men. Does this make her wrong? Under accomplished? Living by an idea that is supposed to be long dead? Because she decides to take on the responsibility for nurturing the sons she created by means of her kitchen, she is offending you? If so, how are you any different than the people who were offended by the 1950's mother's decision to leave her home and get a job? And certainly in an overweight nation such as ours, where a teenage boy is more likely to order a super sized combo meal than go home and cook spaghetti carbonara for friends, someone should be crying out for an experienced mother like LSQ for help! I applaud LSQ for taking an Un-PC approach to feeding men and boys, and for putting it in BOLD on the cover of her book. Because it's something that needs to be taught, because mothers should know that they CAN work and also feed their sons unprocessed, REAL food. The battle in America should not be to teach children that boys and girls are exactly the same down to what food they prefer. They are NOT the same, any biology book will tell you that and if you need further confirmation, spend a couple of mealtimes around a few four year old boys and girls. They are hugely different in their food choices even before they are old enough to know they are different at all. The battle we should be fighting is to teach these young people that there is a drastic difference between whole foods and 85% of what is sold in grocery stores. And the means to teach those children is undeniably by teaching their mothers and fathers, the ones who put the food in their pantries and the meals on their plates, how to prepare easy, real meals. If a mother is struggling to get a young boy to make proper choices concerning his diet, she will go into the store and this cover will scream out to her, "I CAN HELP YOU!". I imagine LSQ had that mother in mind when she penned this book, not a proper liberal-arts-school-grad with a non-Neanderthal palate. Not that said Grad couldn’t enjoy this cookbook and benefit from it if he decided to give it a chance, but a meat eater can also benefit from a vegetarian cookbook if they will only grab it from the shelf, even though it’s obviously not aimed towards them. LSQ is not setting up a “No Girls Allowed” clubhouse where only boys can enjoy her food. I don’t read a single recipe in her book as “Boy Only Food”. It is however, accessible. It’s simple and delicious, and therefore it appeals to the picky and comes as a life raft for a mom at her wits end from trying to do right by her Neandrathal-Palated sons. Jessie Whitaker

  • velvetlabs January 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I havent gotten my copy yet – but this makes me want to go out TODAY to get it. I am really tired of PC-ness. I am a Mom of two young boys and one girl. It never occured to me that I shouldnt get this cookbook because I have a girl. I have seen you on Martha's show – based on the recipes that you showed from the book on the show, I decided that this book could give me more ideas on what to feed my family… better ways to do things I was already doing… I think I will go out and get it today. Thanks!!! I look forward to making many many meals for my family from this book 🙂

  • LUCINDA SCALA QUINN January 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Am feeling the positive vibes big time.Thanks all,LSQ

  • Stephanie March January 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    LSQ,I am an all-out sistah promoter with one strong daughter in college and three boys at home. I am witness to the fact that there is nothing that can compare to the hunger of a teenage boy. It shocked me when it arrived. To any cook, it is humbling. My 15er is currently eating his second dinner which he has named the Slamwich … eggs, bacon, cheese, wrapped in pancakes with maple syrup.Mr. Tamarkin probably doesn't actually have to cook for boys, nor does he likely remember the ravenous pit in his own young stomach.Sally forth, your book is appreciated by those of us who truly need it.

  • Judy Sutton Taylor January 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I'm the Kids editor at Time Out Chicago. I think David's piece about the cookbook offers a solid, thought-provoking opinion-whether you agree with it or not. It's obviously stirred some strong feelings here that I've enjoyed reading, too. If you'd like to comment on our site, here's the link:

  • nerdstroms January 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I don't know why anyone would write a negative review on this amazing book. I just got it yesterday and when I started reading it I had a reaction I've never had while reading a cookbook! I cried. This is more than a cookbook. I have 2 hungry boys/men that I cook for. When I was reading this book I envisioned cooking for my now 2 year old son in the future. Providing him with not only good nutrition and care but love. Love I will and do put in the food. I was reminded of my Mom's words when she first saw my 6'5" boyfriend, now husband. She said, "you always have to keep that big guy fed"! She had experience in "keeping big guys fed" with my 6'3" always hungry father. My Mother passed when I was 7 months pregnant with my son. She never got to meet my little guy but the things she taught me on feeding a family will stay with me forever, as will this book. Thank you Lucinda.

  • LUCINDA SCALA QUINN January 24, 2010 at 11:37 am

    HERE'S THE COMMENT I POSTED AFTER AN INVITE FROM THE TIME-OUT EDITOR TO DO SO.Posted by Lucinda Scala Quinn on Sun, Jan 24, at 11:33amThanks JST (kids page editor) for the invitation to comment here.I don't usually respond to journalists who write about me. But, after posting this piece on my blog, I was excited to see the reponses it ignited. To be fair, Mr Tamarkin did ask my publicist if I'd be up for a spirited conversation which I agreed to. Perhaps DT is commenting not so much on my book as much as he is on himself –a liberal, I could no doubt out-liberal being the Hampshire College grad I am! Best, LSQRead more:

  • Denise November 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Lucinda was merely personalizing her “mad hungry” themed program and book to teach those of us who are interested how to cook delicious & no fuss meals for our families.
    Hers just happens to include men. My daughter attended an all girls school and thrived there. Once she was married she wanted to cook for her husband and considers the kitchen her personal space where she can be creative and provide meals for someone she loves. Nothing wrong with that! Mad Hungry and a cast iron skillet are part of her
    Christmas gift so that she can continue to prepare good meals with gusto. Thanks Lucinda!,

  • Kim December 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Cannot agree enough about the eye rolling! I think the review is ridiculous in this society where everything has to be so politically correct that no one can even speak anymore without being berated by someone who has nothing better to do with their time than criticize others. For crying out loud, whoever wrote that needs to get a life! Keep on doing what you’re doing Lucinda! Totally enjoy the program and recipes!

  • Jenn January 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Really? Give me a break!! Lucinda you are my FAVE and we LOVE your ideas! Can’t say how awesome it is to get some fresh ideas for home cooking for my hubby and 3 kids-and by the way, 2 of them are GIRLS! LOL! Seriously, we use your recipes every week and they are terrific…don’t even waste your time reading crap from this jerk!

  • Shantel April 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Wow! Isn’t there other things in the world to talk about other than this? Come on! I absolutely love the fact that this book is for MY boys. I have only boys and I immediately picked up the cookbook because I wanted to make food that they would enjoy and something I could fix for them throughout their teenage years. My boys (ages 10 & 11) love sitting down with me to watch her show and are interested in cooking because they see her boys in the kitchen. How often do you see boys in the kitchen???? So I would totally disregard the letter. Thank you Lucinda for sharing keep it up.

  • Pam Martin July 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I only have one question…….why do we never see Lucinda’s husband’s face on her program? I’d sure like to see what he looks like. JW

  • Beth March 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Shakespeare said it best: “Much Ado About Nothing.”

  • Brooke May 29, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I just want to say that I have been dying to get this cookbok! My 4 year old daughter and I watch your show every morning and we try a few of your recipes every week. She said to me the other day, “Emeril is not the master chef, its lucinda.” I am so glad that you have sparked the love of cooking in not only me, but also my daughter. Thank you for that. Growing up in a house with a mother who refused to cook, I wanted to do better for my son and daughter. We love you LSQ! Keep doing what youre doing!

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