VANCOUVER - What do you call a cookbook that whips up one part wit with a heavy helping of illustrations akin to SpongeBob characters and recipes introduced with blurbs like "The Bastard Child of Mr. Croque?"
Let's just say "Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook" (Whitecap Books, $29.95) is a different kind of culinary book that could well find foodies glued to the non-recipe material instead of hopping off to the kitchen to do some actual cooking.
You won't find any fancy food photos here.
Instead, personalities such as Mr. B. Russell Sprout, the illustrated banker type donning a limp green tweed suit and bowler hat, take centre stage.
Sprout, like the rest of the crew, is the invention of Calgary resident Pierre A. Lamielle, who puts his passion for cooking and illustrating into action with laugh-out-loud musings that could well make the cookbook's rightful place the coffee table.
As far as Lamielle's concerned, people take the whole business of cooking way too seriously, so he set out to create something off-beat and irreverent.
"This is a non-invasive, unpretentious, inviting, entertaining way to get into cooking, where you don't necessarily feel like you're getting into cooking," he said during a recent visit to Vancouver.
Lamielle, 29, is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, which he says sounds pretty impressive and led to his cookbook deal after a few earlier rejections.
As for putting his culinary skills to work at a restaurant, Lamielle isn't interested in such high-burnout gigs.
But he sure loves teaching uptight accountants and engineers - unlike those "laissez-faire" human resources folks - at a Calgary "cooking demo theatre" that apparently requires no theatrical performances.
"They have to adhere to the numbers," he says of the accountants' penchant for measuring every morsel to the nth degree. "They will not loosen up and just cook. We try and lubricate them with a little bit of alcohol and that helps."
Lamielle, who has developed a curious fondness for rutabaga, grew up in Vancouver and started cooking as a kid who hung out in the kitchen with his mom.
He says his skills have come in handy for picking up women, including his current girlfriend, whom he met at a Calgary market.
Lamielle's recipes range from breakfast fare like oatmeal with wheat germ, flaxseed and dried fruit, countered with another oatmeal recipe that includes whisky, complete with the expected line about boozing Scots.
Comfort food includes four-cheese mac and cheese, "totally-baked-out-of-their-minds potatoes" and several versions of eggs Benedict - one particularly enticing one with fennel seeds.
Plenty of recipes for pasta and Mexican dishes and a chicken curry with the addition of a turnip grace the pages of this cookbook that alas, has only one vegetarian recipe, for shepherd's pie.
Then there's the "heart attack sandwich," which calls for fibreless bread, eggs, cheddar, fried bacon, mayonnaise and potato chips.
"I think that would take down anyone for sure," he says. "The autopsies are kind of sketchy. Whether the deaths are from the sandwich or not is actually debatable."
"I've made it for lots of people, but I don't think I'm ready to go out," he says of the recipe that comes with a surgeon general's warning.