Can real life cooking capture the magic of the iconic cartoon food portrayed on “The Simpsons”?

For more than three decades, “The Simpsons” has regularly graced television screens with sitcom antics, from job layoffs to horror-movie-esque manhunts, often filled with—per New Yorker staff writer Naomi Fry—the platonic ideal of cartoon food. (Who among us hasn’t wished their unevenly iced doughnut was instead one of the cookie-cutter-clean fuchsia variety scarfed down by Homer Simpson?) With the release of Laurel Randolph’s The Unofficial Simpsons Cookbook, Fry puts to the test whether her own cooking could bring to life the series’ all-too-perfect dishes. Fiction, however, is fiction for a reason. Fry’s eggs, which drew comparisons to a child’s handiwork, come nowhere close to the delightfully squiggly versions prepared by Marge Simpson for a Valentine’s Day breakfast. And, because this is a book filled with recipes real people will eat, Randolph decidedly subs ground beef for the dog food used for Bart’s America Balls on the show. “Sometimes,” Fry writes, “real life is preferable to a cartoon, after all.” 

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