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Book Review: Unofficial Cookbooks For ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ For Hardcore Fans

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CHICAGO – You can tell when a property has reached beyond mere fad to true phenomenon based on the amount of related merchandising, official and otherwise. There have been a growing number of products related to the hit HBO show (and beloved George R.R. Martin books) “Game of Thrones,” including shirts, mugs, and even an upcoming video game. And while Lionsgate has to hire people to count their money from the third highest opening of all time for Gary Ross’ “The Hunger Games,” those who adore Katniss, Peeta, and the rest of the gang from Suzanne Collins’ hit series are probably looking for a way to continue the fun at home without starting their own battle royales. Let us introduce you to two of the more unique tie-ins — “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” and “The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook.”

Honestly, we get a lot of offers for unusual tie-ins and merchandising options here at HollywoodChicago and rarely follow up on them but these two seemed too unique to pass up. What does a “Hunger Games” fan eat? How would it tie into the book? What do they expect you to cook for your “Game of Thrones” premiere party (come back for a review of that this weekend and check out all of our Hunger Games coverage here)? Is it all critters for “Hunger Games” and mead-based dishes for “Thrones”?

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook
Photo credit: Adams Media

“The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” by Emily Ansara Baines boasts more than 150 recipes inspired by the three books by Collins — “The Hunger Games,” “Chasing Fire,” and “Mockingjay.” And they mean DIRECTLY inspired. It’s actually somewhat remarkable how directly. Each recipe includes information on what portion of the book inspired it. Some are stretching — it’s “likely” that Katniss hunted goose with her father — but some are pretty clearly inspired by Collins’ work and the author always includes the book and chapter from which the recipe was born.

The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook
The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook
Photo credit: AMC

As you might imagine, a number of the recipes in “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” contain ingredients that might be easier to find in your backyard than at your local Jewel. There’s “Hazelle’s Beaver Stew with Rosemary Potatoes,” “Wild Squirrel & Sausage Gumbo,” and even “Wild Raccoon Sauteed in Bacon Drippings.” However, there are also a number of recipes inspired by the Capitol and its opulent citizens. So, don’t worry, there’s a chocolate cake recipe to offset the fried squirrel. As for the actual recipes, they are relatively simple and some seem downright uninspired — basic ingredients followed by a few seasonings. However, for every recipe that seemed too obvious, there was at least one with a complex element for more trained chefs. And most of the recipes come with “Tips From Your Sponsor” — tricks or advice on cooking the dish.

They have different authors (Alan Kistler gets credit on “Game of Thrones”) but they have much of the same structure. Like “Hunger,” the “Thrones Cookbook” includes details on the origin of each recipe and is broken up into engaging, fan-centric chapters. While one may not think food when they first consider HBO’s bloody drama or Martin’s books, Kistler finds a way to make the connection, mostly to the novels instead of the show. And some of the recipes here are notably complicated, including the art of breadmaking.

What I like most about both of these books is their fidelity to their source material. There’s not a page that goes by in either book in which you think, “Oh, they could have just taken this from any cookbook.” The authors try to find ways to tie back even the most simple recipes to their franchises. Most of it is undeniably silly and I can’t imagine even hardcore “Hunger” fan are dying to make “Rue’s Roasted Parsnips” or that your “Game of Thrones” party will fail without “Arya’s Lemon Cakes,” but one has to admire the devotion of these books to what really matters — the hardcore fans willing to buy them.

“The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” was released by Adams Media on December 11th, 2011 and “The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook” will be released on April 18th, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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