‘The Portlandia Cookbook’: Local Food Vs. Local Foodies


With their hit television show “Portlandia,” Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen have done for Portland what Mork and Mindy did for Boulder, what Jerry Seinfeld did for New York City. The comedy duo highlights the best of local culture, its nuances, quirks and most telling of all: its food.

Now, “The Portlandia Cookbook: Cook Like a Local” makes real all of the show’s fun-poking at food, foodies and food culture that Portland is best known for.

Brownstein and Armisen pull from their rich cast of characters including Kath and Dave, the slightly OCD gear-heads, Toni and Candace, the unhappy feminist bookstore owners, Bryce and Lisa, who can pickle anything, Peter and Nance, best known for following a ‘local’ chicken to its farm, and any other character who has ever said or done anything related to putting something near a fork.

There’s a Portland Food Map that vaguely details where the city’s happening foodie hotspots are. Kath and Dave’s note on “authenticity” and getting all the kitchen gear you need is a funny read (on “chopsticks”, Kath laughs because “it’s so obvious”) with some worthy inclusions like the Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron 2-Quart Soleil Round French Oven, that makes any kitchen a better kitchen.

Then, the (real) recipes ensue, beginning with small plate appetizer recipes, like wild mushroom and artichoke tartines and grilled fruit summer rolls with passion fruit dipping sauce. There’s a section on what foods can and can’t be offered at artisanal movie theaters, a how-to-pickle tutorial and recipe for vinegary refrigerator pickles, the ubiquitous coffee shop map and a whole lot of adorable pictures of Brownstein and Armisen to satisfy any die-hard fan waiting anxiously for the next season.

But the book is incredibly thin when it comes to one of Portland’s most thriving food communities: vegans. There are a few token meh vegetarian recipes (quinoa and kale bowl with tofu and mushrooms, cacao bark), but much of the book’s offerings are loaded with animal products. It’s also not ideal for the healthy eater, with recipes for spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese, burgers, chicken wings and indulgent desserts the norm. A crafty chef may take inspiration from these recipes to give them a healthy spin, but not sure that would go over well with Toni and Candace or some of the other passionate, very Portland cast of characters.

What it can do, hopefully, is get more people into their kitchens. Even if we’re not making the healthiest recipes, cooking at home is a step in the right direction. The more we do it, the more natural it becomes. Next step: a DIY fart patio.

Check out the book here.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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