However, quite possibly the only one as well.
The other day I was going through my mail and besides the usual coupon paks, offers to switch my internet service to the one I already subscribe to, collection notices, and the usual restraining orders, I picked up a thick brown parcel. I looked at it quizzically for a moment and held it to my ear to see if it was ticking when suddenly I remembered an Amazon order the week prior. My pulse immediately quickened; I threw all the other mail onto the porch and ran upstairs. Macho Nachos had finally arrived!
I wasted no time in ripping open the package, though as excited as I was I kept my expectations in check, having paid the princely sum of 65 cents for a used copy on Amazon (and it’s hardcover no less). The shipping was $3.99 – more than six times the price of the book itself. I’m no collector, but that sounds an awful lot like the 99 cent DVD bin at Walmart, featuring such classics as “Some Black and White Movie Even Your Parents Never Heard of”.
So is Macho Nachos some cheap cash-in attempt or the real deal? According to the book, the author, Kate Heyhoe, grew up in Texas and that definitely implies some street cred. After all, Nachos were invented just on the other side of the Texas-Mexico border and are extremely popular in the southwest. Texas is to nachos what Philly is to the cheesesteak.
Still, one can no doubt find a Subway sandwich shop in Philly selling something called a “Philly Cheesteak”, which is anything but, and if the locals saw you eating one my guess is they would beat you within an inch of your life. Likewise, there is no doubt plenty of whitey mex to be found in the Lonestar state. When it comes to Macho Nachos, I guess we’ll have to see which side of the tracks the author grew up on.
Let’s start with the good. The photographs are positively mouth-watering. While flipping the pages I was simultaneously snacking on some chips and yet the photos made me feel hungry anyway. Even if the rest of the book turned out to be junk, the pictures alone are good coffee table fodder. The only way they could be better is if they were scratch-and-sniff, or if Macho Nachos was a pop-up book. Scantily clad females never hurt a picture either.
The first several pages are pretty handy it turns out. There’s some history, quite a lot of nacho specific cooking tips (temperatures, surfaces, etc), a homemade tortilla chip recipe and information about different cheeses. Overall this is the best part of the book. If you’ve ever wondered why your nachos just never seem to turn out right, like if the cheese is burnt but the meat is cold, or the flavors just don’t come together, this will probably help sort it out for you.
From there it launches into some fifty odd nacho recipes which go from the cheap and cheerful familiars, to upper east-side socialite nachos. There’s even a recipe with caviar!
But that’s exactly where things get a little questionable. A few of the recipes definitely feel like filler. One for example is basically mexican rice, cheese and salsa on top of chips. Ever get a burrito from a cheapskate taqueria that uses way too much rice and it has that bland “carb-overload” taste? That’s what this sounds like. And mexican rice with salsa is very nearly redundant. This sounds like a recipe thrown together with what was available in the cupboard at the time, and having invented about a hundred different ways to prepare Top Ramen in my youth with everything from spaghetti sauce to peanut butter, I know this sort of desperate improvisation well.
Others, I have to say, sound pretty friggin’ delicious: Canadian bacon, goat and mozzarella cheese, pineapple, and sun-dried tomato pesto. If that doesn’t sound good to you then you need a tongue transplant, or maybe someone really did slap the taste out of your mouth just like they said they would (bitch).
Not every recipe in Macho Nachos is a winner but overall it’s a good package and will get the creative juices flowing with new ideas to try, particularly ingredients. The presentation and writing are adequate, and the pictures of nachos are about the best you’ll find anywhere.
New and shiny off the rack, Macho Nachos will run you $16.95, which seems a bit much for a book that doesn’t even top a hundred pages. I can’t honestly recommend it at that price unless you have money falling out of your pockets. However, if you can pick it up used for ten bucks including shipping I’d say it’s worth it to open your wallet.
Macho Nachos – 4 stars (out of 5)
Author: Kate Heyhoe
Hardcover, $16.95 (or about 5 bucks used including shipping from Amazon)
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