Book Article

Are You Hungry Tonight?

Elvis Presley cookbooks -- Learn how to eat like the rock star with ''The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley'' and ''Fit for a King: The Elvis Presley Cookbook''

If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, you'd need a map to reach Elvis Presley's ticker. Lucky for his true fans there exists such a thing: Elvis cookbooks. The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley and Fit for a King: The Elvis Presley Cookbook offer recipes that tantalized Presley before his body was stamped ''Return to Sender'' in 1977.

Fit for a King is the more reverent of the two, with 300 recipes favored by Elvis' cook Alvena Roy. While tossing in quirky Elvis facts (''Graceland had two complete soda fountains''), the authors overlook the possibility that food and drugs were major factors in the Big E's untimely death.

On the other hand, The Life and Cuisine delights in these ironies. In this ''food biography,'' author David Adler painstakingly reconstructs the meals — and drugs — that graced every period of Presley's life. As his eating habits become increasingly perilous, you can almost see him becoming a hunka, hunka burnin' goo. By the time the King reaches for his Last Supper (ice cream and cookies), you're ready to embark on a week-long fast to atone for his sins.

Why would anyone care about such trivia? ''It's the best way to understand Elvis,'' says Adler. ''Part of what people like about Elvis was his lifestyle. Suppose he was in really great shape; he'd be just like Madonna. What was so great about Elvis is that he really didn't care.''

Originally posted Aug 13, 1993 Published in issue #183 Aug 13, 1993 Order article reprints