Acquiring Anansi’s First F*cking Cookbook


“The proposal is at the bottom of this f*cking email,” is one way for your boss to pique your interest in a book project. It’s not exactly everyday that swearing makes its way into emails, marketing material, and office banter, and is considered a fundamental feature and selling tool of a cookbook.

Just over a year ago, House of Anansi Press acquired the rights to publish Thug Kitchen in Canada. The cookbook had more than one hundred plant-based recipes that were bold and hilarious. For those of you familiar with the Press, this will seem like a logical first cookbook — it’s edgy, unpretentious, accessible, and the recipes are well written and inexpensive. As part of our assessment of the book, I cooked my way through many of the recipes, bringing them in for Sarah MacLachlan, the President and Publisher of House of Anansi Press, to taste. We made an offer shortly after trying the “Grilled Eggplant with Soba Noodles.”

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As someone who cooks regularly and edits books for a living, which includes acquiring them for Anansi, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to read a book proposal that made plant-based food funny.

How many of you bring lunch to work? (Hands up my entire office.) And how often do you find reading articles and recipes about healthy eating patronizing and dictatorial? (Hands up everyone on earth.) Fortunately, Thug Kitchen is here to save us all. The recipes are incredibly easy, use supermarket ingredients, and don’t push you to find something if the store or your cupboard is out. Tips like, “White, yellow, or sweet onions will do. Whatever is on sale” or “But for real, you can use whatever flour you use to bake — it won’t make a difference,” percolate throughout the book.

Mixing too much will make your pancakes tough, so just chill the f*ck out sir mix-a-lot.

Mixing too much will make your pancakes tough, so just chill the f*ck out sir mix-a-lot.

Our office is cuckoo for Thug Kitchen. To give you an idea, I walked by the microwave at lunch the other day, and was able to identify our Rights Assistant Jolise Beaton’s “Roasted Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos,” just by the scent. Allison Steele, Anansi’s International Digital and Print Sales Manager, brought “To-Go Breakfast Bars,” on Monday and naturally we snapped a couple of food porn pics. An honourable mention also goes out to the editorial department who made the “Roasted Potato Salad with Fresh Herbs” and the “Moroccan Spiced Couscous” for the company potluck, which roused a lot of surprised, “IT’S VEGAN — VE-GAN!”

Our desire for easy, healthy cooking drew us to Thug Kitchen. I mean, hey, if I had Gwyneth Paltrow’s budget and didn’t have a full-time job, you can bet I’d probably be 100-mile dieting all over the place and making my own everything. (My mom would certainly be happier if I DIY-ed more.) But let’s be real: it’s already hard enough to take care of the 2493834 other things you need to do in a week. Thug Kitchen takes into account that we’re all busy, living on some form of a budget, and just trying to eat a little bit healthier.

Now can someone just tell me why the f*ck Loblaws doesn’t sell tempeh?

Meredith Dees is the Canadian editor of Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook.

Meredith Dees is the Canadian editor of Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook. She tweets at @MeredithDees.

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