The first title was The Read My Lips Cookbook: A Culinary Journey
of Memorable Meals. With an
added chapter it became The Joy of Life Cookbook, which finally became Recipes for Joy in Life.
Thomas Fortenberry - Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI) - August 2003
"A very highly recommended addition
to any kitchen cookbook collection."
Robert Swiatek has managed to cook up a memorable
collection of anecdotes and recipes. The Read My Lips Cookbook is personable, humorous, and easy-to-use.
This is not your average cookbook, however.
The book is many things at once: cookbook,
travelogue, and biography. Swiatek provides
56 separate main menus, complete with main
course and desert recipes, alongside party
menus and other cooking trivia, while recounting
his travels around the country over the years
bumbling through the haves and have-nots
of life. His personal stories are often very
funny, intriguing, sometimes aww, but always
memorable and really liven up what could
have been yet another mind-numbing collection
of recipes without a point. His subtitle
(which is far better than his title, to be
honest) hits the nail on the head: A Culinary
Journey of Memorable Meals. The memorable
part is two-fold. Yes, the recipes are for
great food which will be memorable to us
once cooked and eaten; but the real joy is
reading his stories about how, where, and
when he discovered these dishes. There are
real gems inside this book.
The Read My Lips Cookbook places fast, inexpensive, yet healthy meals
at your fingertips. But you may find you
linger over the tales or the memories they
invoke in you. I am from the South and found
myself smiling at Swiatek's recounting of
his first trips into the South. A native
of New York, he traveled to Florida. Growing
up in Mississippi near New Orleans, I can
only imagine what it must be like to experience
Southern cooking for the first time. When
I lived in Baltimore the tastes were completely
different, much more bland in every way (excluding
their very wonderful Old Bay seasoning on
crabs), even though Baltimore is sometimes
still considered a "Southern" city.
So I can only imagine how the South must
shock a non-native with its rich foods and
heavy spices. Swiatek is also very honest.
He says what he likes and dislikes, what
works and what doesn't. In one part he recounts
how he made a beef curry that he really didn't
like, even though his guests did, and so
has never made one since. He likes his chicken
curry, but not the beef. That takes guts
to say in a cookbook. But the honesty is
much appreciated and makes you realize he
believes in his meals. These aren't page
fillers or standardized junk that he doesn't
care about. It is all personal.
If I have a complaint about the book it is
that it isn't beefy enough (couldn't pass
up the curry pun). Yes, I realize it is 200
pages and shouldn't become a massive tome.
But the little tastes of tales I read really
were enjoyable and mere snacks. They make
me want much more and I wish he would have
elaborated on a lot of the stories. But that
might overbalance the book away from cookbook
too heavily into travelogue and biography,
so the balance is probably best as is. Besides,
like any good cook knows, you give them a
taste and not a feast to keep them coming
back for more.
xx Kevin Tipple - Blue Iris Journal (Planoe, TX) -
"Good and realistic and far different from the
As a stay at home Dad and all that entails,
I am also the chief cook and bottle washer.
One of the things I try to do is give the
family some variety, as much
as my skills will allow as well as taking
into account everyone's particular preferences.
Most cookbooks have recipes that are either
way beyond my
culinary skills or contain food that no one
in this family will eat. This book was a
pleasant change from the norm and one that
I could actually use.
With a lot of humor in mind, this cookbook
is designed to help the reader create good
food that everyone will eat with a minimum
time or cost. The author weaves in numerous
anecdotes about his life and cooking experiences
since he left home more than thirty years
Often amusing, these stories do not detract
at all from the most important part of any
There are fifty-six suggested meals that
run the gamut from the very simple (how to
pan fry a steak) to something more complicated
like Bulghur Pilaf.
While I am not going to detail each one,
each menu is of real food with real portions
as opposed to something incredibly complicated
as shown on
the Food Network that can be finished in
two bites. Throughout the menus, variety,
healthy additions, and other general tips
Cooking should be fun and the author heartily
embraces the concept while imparting a lot
of experience. This is a very good and
realistic cookbook and is far different from
the normal cookbook. It is well worth owning
and would be perfect as a gift for the
young adult moving away from home or for
the chief cook and bottle washer in your