Back when I was a young lad and first getting into the world of nachos, I started by scouring the internet in search of legends, lore, and literature. Finding many an unreliable source I turned to Amazon to find a published book that would contain the information I sought, because as we all know anything published in a book must be true. And what did I find?
I figured that since there are books about the all popular cod or salt (Send that check over any time Kurlansky) that a book on nachos should be easy to come by. When Macho Nachos by Kate Heyhoe (That’s cofounder and executive editor of GlobalGourmet.com Kate Heyhoe, for your information) came up, I figured “That’s ok, it’s a cookbook, but there’s no way you could fill a whole cookbook with just nacho recipes, there’s got to be some historical nacho information in there as well.” So I added it to my cart and purchased it.
Macho Nachos is easily one of the top five, nay, top three nacho cookbooks out there, which unfortunately would be more impressive if there were more than two or three nacho cookbooks out there total. This is not to say that this isn’t a good cookbook, because it is. Kate knows how to cook and if you want to make a lot of interesting “toppings, salsas, and spreads for irresistible snacks and light meals” this book has you covered. The problem is more that the very concept of a nacho cookbook is sadly perhaps not a thing that needs to exist.
Quick, how many recipes for nachos can you think of off the top of your head? I mean literally take most any food and dump it on some chips and boom. Now once you cull out the combos that would be gross how many do you have left? 20? 30? Realistically just putting whatever toppings you want on top of some chips is something you could call a nacho recipe. Of the 50 total recipes in here, only 30 or so are for nacho and the rest are toppings and sides. This is the endemic problem, there’s just not enough interesting ideas to fill a whole cookbook with without them getting repetitive, which is exactly why there are so few nacho oriented cookbooks. Sure, you get the basics on how to make your regular nachos, but after that it’s all “Well hell, let’s throw, oh, lobster and, um, cranberry reduction, on top. Sure, yeah, that’ll do.”
There are a good blend of classic nacho recipes; BBQ Chicken, Pizza, BLT, as well as some “uptown” (read: pretentious) nachos like Tuna and Edam, Caviar and Chive, and Jamaican Rum Chicken with Ginger-Watermelon Salsa, which are sure to set your appetite a flutter. Far more useful that these are the nacho equipment and prep tips that take up the beginning of the book which were very informative in regards to topping and baking tips. What there isn’t however is anything more than a brief one page summary about how Ignacio Anaya invented them. Now I came into this book knowing full well that this was a cookbook and not a history of nachos book, but only one page of history, seriously? There was a page of dumb nacho jokes later on that could have easily been removed to give more room for facts. This, much like those crummy jokes, is super lame.
If you think you need a cookbook to tell you how to make nachos, this is a good one, and while it’s no longer in print you can get it used for a penny off of Amazon, or get the kindle edition for $2.99 if you like having an expensive electronic in the kitchen with you around boiling oil. It’s definitely worth the money, just not if you’re looking for nachos history or anything other than recipes. Moral of the story, don’t expect a cookbook to be a history book.