I like to think that I have my thumb on the pulse of the Nacho Nation, being the world’s foremost expert on nachos and all, but sometimes things slip through my grasp. This is probably due to all the cheese and chip grease on them, but that’s nacho fingers for you. One of the nacho things that I recently overlooked was the release of a new nacho tome, The Nacho Manifesto, by Jack Campbell. One hand wipe, visit to a popular online book retailer, and two days later, I rectified that situation.
Jack Campbell is an Australian writer out of Melbourne best known for his books The Little Bacon Cookbook and The Scratch & Sniff Bacon Cookbook. Unfortunately you would know none of this from reading this book as there is no author information of any sort in it. First you need to search around on the internet for a bit, then have it confuse him with science fiction author Jack Campbell, and then eventually have to visit the Australian branch of Simon & Schuster to get that information. This is unfortunate as cook books are close to technical manuals in not really getting across the author’s voice if you’re only going to list measurements and light directions.
And that’s all you get here. No intro, nothing about nachos, just jumping right into the recipes without even so much as a how-do-you-do. To be fair, there is a little thing at the front explaining the definition of the word “Manifesto” and then “The Nacho Manifesto”, but come on. I don’t trust just anyone with my nacho information, I want to look them in the eyes when I’m reading the book they wrote. All I get when I read this are two empty sockets. Who is the real Jack Campbell? We know he’s all about that bacon, but what about those nachos? I have the questions, but this book does not have the answers.
What it does have is “40+ recipes that prove nachos rule the snack world”, and when you open it you will see page after page of glorious nacho pictures. This is where the book sings my friends, with a magnificent double page spread of the food the recipe on the previous page taught you to make. Any of these image would be suitable to frame and hang on your wall, but somehow I feel like “Smith Street Books” isn’t going to be offering those as some sort of add on item. The only thing that could have made these better is if each of these pictures were nice glossy centerfolds you had to open up to view nudie-mag style. This is not the case, and since “HOT NACHOS”, the magazine of hot nacho action, does not exist, I’ll just have to keep dreaming.
“BUT HOW ARE THE NACHOS!?!?!” You shout into the void. Spoiler alert: I haven’t (yet) made any, but I will tell you which look the best with my expert Nacho Eye Vision (copyright, trademark, etc). The book is divided into four sections, six if you include the opening “Nacho Manifesto” and index, but really only three on nachos as one is just general Mexican food recipes. How many were going to St. Ives though? Anyhow, the sections are:
This is just the “general Mexican food” section of the book, which is probably helpful in Australia as I’m not sure exactly how much Mexican food influence there is down there. I mean, they’re calling “cilantro” by the name “coriander” for god’s sakes, that’s how out of the loop they are! The winner of the 6 recipes in this section has to be.... CHIPOTLE MAYO! While most people would just go and buy mayo and throw some chipotle spice in it, this here will tell you how to make it from scratch. I didn’t even know you could make mayo from scratch! To be fair though, I don’t know a whole lot about cooking other than when it comes to nachos.
These are your standard “make nachos add beef/pork/steak/chicken/fish” type of recipes, although “Meatballs” and “Prawns” are also counted as such. I guess that’s Australia for you! Of these 12 the winner is… PULLED PORK & CHORIZO NACHOS WITH SMOKY BBQ SAUCE! The “Chicken Tinga Nachos” were a close second, but frankly this big ol’ mess of BBQ looks unstoppably delicious.
I don’t know who gets to qualify these as beng new or otherwise, but let that be your one suspension of belief here. These 18 recipes pull in such things as dessert nachos, kale, mac & cheese, lentils, and an upended charcuterie board, but the top choice has to be...SAUSAGE NACHOS WITH 4-CHEESE BEER SAUCE! As “Buffalo Chicken Nachos” and “Pizza Nachos” were also in this section it was a close call, but if you really want that “Octubrefest” spirit, those sausages and beer cheese is where it’s at. I still want to try the one where you dump a charcuterie board on some chips though.
Lastly we come to the section where the chips of the nachos are replaced with random other objects; pita, ciabatta, wonton, graham crackers, etc. Of these 10 the award goes to… WAFFLE NACHOS WITH CREAMY CORN CHEESE! If you haven’t discovered the delights of using waffles in places you wouldn't put waffles, like as a replacement for the bread in a BLT for example, you should be using waffles more. I’m a little leery of the “creamy corn cheese”, but my waffle interest is enough that I would try these in a heartbeat. A very strained heartbeat from all the waffles and cheese and chorizo I’ve been eating.
And that is the book. Is it worth your US MSRP of $19.99 but available on the internet for $13.49? Sure, even though of the “40+ recipes that prove nachos rule the snack world”, only forty of them are actually nachos and the rest are other foods. Is it the best nacho book you can get? No, but if you want a book on nachos there aren’t a whole lot out there, so your choices are limited. Take it over any of the made-for-amazon kindle knock off trash out there, but without telling me more about nachos only my belly is full. My mind though is still hungry.
PROS: Gorgeous nacho spreads worthy of adult nacho magazine “HOT NACHOS”
CONS: Absolutely no information about nachos other than recipes.