In his first assignment, another writer I know had to produce a book on Japanese cuisine based on two interviews with a chef who spoke no English.
“That,” he said, “was the moment that I realized cookbooks were not authoritative.”
“Write up something about all the kinds of chiles,” one Mexican-American chef demanded of me, providing no further details. “There should be a really solid guide to poultry,” a barbecue maven prescribed for his own forthcoming book. (After much stalling, he sent the writer a link to the Wikipedia page for “chicken.”)
At the most extreme level, a few highly paid ghostwriter-cooks actually produce entire books, from soup to nuts, using a kind of mind-meld that makes it possible not only to write in the voice of another human but actually to cook in his or her style — or close enough. One recent best-selling tome on regional cooking was produced entirely in a New York apartment kitchen, with almost no input from the author.
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(Image credit: Owen Smith)