Fan-related art is not a new phenomenon. Though, perhaps the explosion of fan-related food art in the last 30 years is a bit more surprising. From television and movie tie-ins to literary treats, themed cookbooks can be found for just about anything.
“Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook”
Terry Pratchett and Stephan Briggs
Recipes by Tina Hannan and Stephan Briggs
Illustrations by Paul Kidby
Corgi books, 1999, Pgs. 176
I am unabashedly a fan of Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels. “Discworld” is in an alternate universe and is a disc, thereby making it both round and flat simultaneously. “Discworld” is situated somewhere in a late-Victorian-meets-still-slightly-medieval-satiric version of our world. For example, though, they have a printing press and a free press. The City Watch still wear armor and carry swords and crossbows—mind you, very advanced crossbows.
Also, in the more rural parts of the Disc, witches still play a key role in local health care and social justice. Among the many well-known and successful witches on the Disc is Nanny Ogg in Lancre (like Scotland of the Disc—where the Scottish Tragedy parody was set; the one with kings, crowns, a determined lady, stabbing, and a very mobile forest). Whereas many fan cookbooks aim at recreating meals from screen or page that readers actually would want to eat—or try to eat—”Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook” offers recipes of different kettle of fish altogether.
Nanny Ogg is the matriarch of the Ogg clan and has had many husbands (some of them were even hers). She is known for always finding a drink, a snack and for having had a very adventurous youth that led to a large brood of now-grown Ogg children. She has never met a dirty song she couldn’t sing at top volume with great gusto, and she loves “suggestive food.” Take Strawberry Wobbler, for example. It involves strawberry gelatin cast in champagne flutes. After the gelatin has been removed from the flute, it is placed upright on a plate with scoops of ice cream and a drizzle of whipped cream.
And there is “Nanny Ogg’s Maids of Honor—Take Your Eye Off Them and They Turn Into Tarts.” Prior to the recipes, there is a narrative about the process of getting the book published and the impact Nanny Ogg’s previous cookbooks had upon the publisher’s marriage. Actually, the text is far more interesting than most recipes—many of which are edible. I would not recommend trying to eat anything out of the section for Dwarfs.
In Discworld, Dwarf Bread is an offensive weapon, as much as it could be considered food.
Fans of Discworld books will find recipes and references from all their favorite characters, including Bloody Stupid Johnson and Leonard of Quirm’s recipe for a cheese sandwich: “Decide the shape of a common loaf is not suitable for the purpose.” Also to learn to make “Wow-Wow Sauce” or “Dried Frog Pills” or even “C.M.O.T. Dibbler’s Sausage Inna Bun” (you might be happier not knowing), Nanny has us covered. Even the librarian has contributed a recipe (about bananas, of course).
Nanny does not get to be the matriarch of an extended family like the Oggs and a witch without developing a lot of opinions and having great desire to impart accumulated knowledge. The second half of the book is dedicated to etiquette.
“Sure enough, once you’ve got enough food, people will invent etiquette.”
Thus begins Nanny’s explanation of the finer points of human interaction. She covers life with trolls, dwarfs, and even courtship.
But readers don’t have to know Discworld to enjoy it—because what makes Discoworld funny is how well it reflects our own misguided attempts at this ting known as humanity. This is a great read and first introduction to Terry Pratchett’s work; however, for us who know Discworld and Lancre particularly, it deepens the experience and makes the jokes funnier.
“The Jane Austen Cookbook”
By Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye
McClelland and Stewart, 1995, pgs. 128
“The Jane Austen Cookbook” is another cookbook that is more text than recipes—though, the recipes are probably a bit safer and easier to make than Nanny Ogg’s.
During her lifetime, one of Jane Austen’s friends, Martha Lloyd, lived with the Austen family and noted down over 100 recipes the Austen family ate.
From this and sources of the time to create foods that would have appeared at balls and parties, Maggie Black has modernized recipes for the modern cook.
In addition, Deirdre Le Faye has written a lengthy biographical introduction about Jane’s life and times. Actually, parts of it remind me of “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew”—one of my favorite books about the lost “common knowledge” of the time. Not only are the recipes fascinating and mouth-watering, but the information throughout about daily life for women of all social stations, food preparations, preservation and consumption, and of course etiquette is nothing short of enthralling. But, seriously, how do you not love a cookbook with recipes that begin with, “This simple but dramatic creamy soup is well worth the trouble of using three pans”?
“Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook”
By Joanna Farrow
Harper Collins, 2016, pgs. 153
Joanna Farrow’s “Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook” is probably more what most people think of with fan-inspired cookbooks. The photography is beautiful and full of color, filled with quotes from the show. The recipes tend to be things like making Daleks out of cupcakes. Of course, there are instructions for building and decorating a TARDIS out of cookies. Or how about a sonic screwdriver made out of vegetables?
This book has direction and a diagram. It covers everyone of the doctors, and for a show that has been running for 50 years, that’s a lot of material. It is fun and creative. The photography is so good it makes my mouth water just looking through it.
I have a working knowledge of “Dr. Who,” though I am not a fan by any means. But I find the cookbook tremendously entertaining, maybe more so than the show. Clearly, the recipes have been refined with very simple, easy-to-follow directions that are carefully labeled. But the stills from the show and the commentary on why each recipe was developed is the most fun.
It’s a perfect gift for the “Dr. Who” fan who has everything. The recipes help create memories that will last forever.