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Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  245 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Ayun Halliday's fourth book, Dirty Sugar Cookies, takes readers into the unpredictable mind and comical experiences of a true anti-foodie, giving even the most hopeless cooks a moment of relief from self-criticism, and the least discriminating eaters a reality check. Halliday started out a repressed picky eater without so much as a single fast-food-loving sibling to save h ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 19th 2006 by Seal Press (first published April 28th 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 01, 2009 karen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: eats
i'm kind of in love with this lady.

she is, of course, the author of "always lots of heinies at the zoo". which is as fine as any children's book about animal asses, yet given the choice between animal ass and food, i'm always going to go with food, so this book was just one step above for me.

they aren't cooking or food stories so much as personal stories in which food plays a role, if you see the distinction. difficult pregnancy, summer camp, problematic roommates; personal experiences all wove
Mar 18, 2009 jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to jess by: east village inky
Shelves: 2009
This is the story of the culinary awakening of a picky eater. I spent a lot of time going, "I AM (WAS) EXACTLY LIKE THAT!" I am also a former picky eater. Like Halliday, I cook for a kid with peculiar food preferences, albeit not as limited as Inky. I, too, spent time in college dabbling in hippie foods. Some might make the case that I still dabble in hippie food, and to that, I say, I challenge you to a duel.

I love Ayun Halliday's zine, the east village inky, and I have to give her big extra cr
Hee-larius. I might have even given it five stars except that I'm annoyed I didn't write it. I, too, grew up in the midwest, got dumped by friends when they got popular, had a mother who made fancy with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, ate college post-coital breakfasts in greasy diners, lived in New York, have a snarky sense of humor, write books, and talk too much about what I eat. I'm telling you I could have done this, but Ayun actually did. I especially love it when, mid-recipe (there a ...more
Nonito Abbu
Ayun Halliday is such a very keen observer of herself and of others, and I love how her voice in her books reminds me of my own issues when it comes to food. How she turned from a picky eater to an adventurous foodie is a remarkable journey with lots of culinary twists and turns, and her accounts of her forays in the kitchen and in the restaurants of the world are oftentimes punctuated with hilarious anecdotes. I love how sincere Ayun is, and she does not hold back with the frank and foul langua ...more
Not what I wanted this to be. While it's a collection of essays on the theme of culinary awakening, it's more about the "awakening" than the "culinary."

I wanted food porn. What I got was a mash note.

The essays are a little scattershot, running from the few things she'd eat as a picky child to the bizarre things in her hippie pantry post-college to feeding her own picky child, but it's not quite chronological or topical in its organization. On the bright side, it's still light and funny--just no
This book got off to kind of a slow start but by the end I was totally into it. Ayun is a really, really funny writer, and goes to show that David Sedaris is selling in the hundreds of jillions and she's pretty unknown. That said, I prefer her hilarious travel memoir No Touch Monkey to this book. Also, I wish she'd written more about her crazy hippie days instead of as a married mom. Still, a good book and I am glad I finally got around to reading it!
I thought this would be lot of fun to read but it was just silly. The author tried too hard to be amusing and it hurt the content. Most of her stories were "cute" but I didn't really feel they were worth a whole book. Disappointing.
When I first started reading this I didn't think I'd pick it up again after I got off the plane. I did end up finishing it but only found it mildly amusing.
Nov 19, 2008 Ciara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies with a funny bone, theatre nerds, hoosiers, adventurous eaters
the author of this book is obviously also the author of the zine "the east village inky," which i used to carry in my distro & have been reading almost since its inception. so i also read all of her books, out of curiosity & with the thought that if i like the zines okay, maybe i will like the books too. i found the books to be something of amixed bag (not unlike the zines), but i have to give props for how she hasn't just recycled zine content into a manuscript & called it a book. i ...more
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
Ayun Halliday is one of the funniest people alive. I had to pace myself with this one - only a chapter at a time, like rationing one's cookie consumption, or shots of whiskey - partly to savor it, partly because I just couldn't laugh that hard for that long.

I also really appreciated the recipes that end each chapter - not that I've actually tried any of them, but it was the way they are presented, the little metacommentaries on the structure of how-to. It's made me very conscious of my cooking
After reading No Touch Monkey a few years ago, I looked forward to reading another book by Ayun Halliday. I was pleasantly surprised that my local library had this book, so I requested it. This is a funny book recounting the author's different experiences with food. I loved the sweet story about eating at buffet style restaurants with grandparents as a kid and the food she relished at summer camp. I almost stopped reading during the post-coital breakfast joints chapter, which dragged on a bit. ...more
Two and a half stars. Usually, I'm a big fan of Ayun Halliday's hilarious reminisces about her proto-hipster lifestyle -- No Touch Monkey and Job Hopper are two of my faves. This collection of essays / recipes attempts to chronicle Halliday's Life Through Food -- from a childhood spent as a picky eater, to an adventurous, global-hopping, urbanite adulthood that expands her palate. Her stories are still amusing and chummy, but lack a certain spark found in some of her other work. Maybe I'm just n ...more
I love Ayun Halliday - something about her writing really resonates with me - so this was a very cool glimpse into her life.

I laughed heartily at her semi-obsession with a children's cookbook from her youth; I had a similar obsession with a kids' cookbook that I had as a child (and ended up re-buying it at a "rare" book shop because it was discontinued in print and someone lost my copy!)

All told, a nice, light-hearted, funny, culinary adventure + bonus bio.
Betsy Housten
I've got falling down stairs tripping over my own heart drooling love for all Halliday's other writing. But with this one, I think the formula's gotten a bit old. I think she needs a new venue. Her zines are still fabulous, even though they've had the same format for years. But as much as I love her, I think I just got bored by the end (is that possible?) and wanted her to reach for something else besides anthologized self-deprecating essays on a particular theme.
Jul 29, 2008 J rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Laura
Another funny book by Ayun Halliday. If you were a picky eater, this is the book for you. Halliday speaks to the (former) picky eater in all of us, relating hilarious childhood stories about driving her parents and grandparents wild with her eating habits and how her own daughter now does the same to her. I was awash in my own childhood memories as I blazed through this book, laughing out loud the whole way.
Jan 04, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who eat food
This one was fun! It's one woman's evolution mostly as an eater, sometimes as a cook. Yes, she's a Chicago/Brooklyn hipster parent who writes a zine about her life and raising her kids in New York, but she steps outside the hipster worldview, too. The recipes interspersed with her stories sound alternately disgusting and delightful, and they're all funny.
A fun little trip back to a time when I was a picky eater (not that I have strayed too terribly far from the pickiness, but I am more likely to try something now than I was then). I liked the anecdotes, but the best part were the recipes. A snarky sense of humor added something to the recipes, and I admit I did save a few of them.
Mar 24, 2008 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: trashy/tacky cuisine enthusiasts, alternamoms
Having read Ayun Halliday's zine for years I knew I would enjoy this book. It may be too scattered and disjointed for some, but that's my only (not really but sort of) criticism. She's an interesting woman and I relate to many of her food, parenting, and childhood anecdotes. It's a quick and fun multiple read that demands purchasing.
Not only is Ayun a humorous and enjoyable author, but she includes recipes sporadically in the book. I have tried several and enjoyed them all. Her recipe for Gub-Gub Brownies (translation: gooey vanilla brownies w/ chocolate chips) is not only a personal favorite, but has made me very popular with my team at work.
Mostly amusing tale of one woman's journey from picky eater to omnivore to frustrated mom of a picky eater. The prose could have been tighter and less adjective-intensive for my tastes -- I often found myself praying, "Please, Baby Jesus, not another tangent about your classmates or ex-roomies! Get to the good stuff!"
I picked this book at random from the paperback section of the library (they group all the paperbacks together in no order whatsoever. It would be frustrating if I was looking for something specific, but it's awesome for browsing!) I like Ruth Reichl better, but I loved this book too. :)
Michele Laurel
Feb 23, 2007 Michele Laurel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: girlfriends
Snappy, funny stories that chronicle the author's relationship with food from her childhood years, through several countries and into motherhood, accompanied with inventive recipes at the end of each chapter. Scrumptious!
A number of "picky eater" stories (the author's own as a child, as well as her daughter's), interspersed with a few "adventurous eater" stories from her own adulthood. Fast and mildly amusing read, but a little too scattered.
Feb 22, 2007 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who's ever been called picky, readers of the East Village Inky
Shelves: nonfiction
Some people find Ayun Halliday too...something. Too self-conciously funny? Too much? But I have to admit, she makes me laugh. The recipes alone were enough to make me laugh out loud at points.
Jun 05, 2007 Melisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a laugh
Ayun Halliday always makes me laugh. She has a wickedly funny way with words whether describing food, lousy jobs, children, or travel. Her books are like candy!
Amy Svendsen
The author grew up in Indianapolis about the same time I did, so it's interesting to see her perspective on parallel experiences. Hilarious!
Mar 20, 2007 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
Ayun Halliday signed this book for me at a book reading/signing/Christmas cookie swap at Bluestockings! It was amazing, and so is this book!
Slightly entertaining, but not fascinating. Makes me want to read more by the author - specifically "No Touch the Monkey"
Series of essays related to the foods of various stages of her life. Ms. Halliday writes well - highly recommended.

Oct 25, 2009 Maria rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
It was a fast, cute little read, with all the nutritional content of the eponymous cookies. I felt empty after finishing it.
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I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and came of age at the height of the preppy craze. For some unfathomable reason, my grandparents had a subscription to The New Yorker and every week, I’d paw through it daydreaming about a glamorous future where I’d be a celebrated stage actress living in sin with some hot, devoted trumpet player in a Greenwich Village loft with a skyline view that I’ve since le ...more
More about Ayun Halliday...
No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late Peanut The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale from the Trenches Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo

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