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Book Review: The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines

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The subtitle says it all – From Lamb Stew to “Groosling” – more than 150 Recipes Inspired by The Hunger Games trilogy, which exudes an intelligent quality, engaging drama, and compelling scenarios about a futuristic world in North America called Panem where teenage pairs are chosen from each of 12 districts to participate in a televised survival battle in the woodlands.

Written by Emily Ansara Baines, the content in this 256-page cookbook does give away plot points from the book series, so only “experienced” Suzanne Collins readers should proceed to avoid spoilers. Food recipes basically range from very basic (the districts) to extravagant (the Capitol) with not much in between.

Hearty meals from the districts mirrors a foray into your yard to gather dandelions for a salad or pine needles for tea plus wild game recipes including rat, rabbit, squirrel, beaver, raccoon, and even venison (deer) so cooks can reach a very authentic level if they like.

Baines inserts cautions and warnings (e.g. choosing the correct edible flowers in a salad recipe) so cooks at least get a heads-up before going too deep with their ingredient choices. The recipes also feature some hard-to-find items like Japanese knotweeds, milkweed buds, or even (gulp) wild dog (optional) for beef stew, so there are many extravagant extras, which can create some interesting challenges.

Many recipes are flexible, so substitutes are always real possibilities. Readers can brush up on or learn basic like jam making or try their hand at basil wrapped goat cheese ball or warm pear salsa. More novelty recipes like apocalyptic eggs benedict tie into the source themes well, while the bulk still features hearty foods like beans, berries, herbs, nuts/seeds, and potatoes. Given this cookbook’s title, these recipes are obviously more “inspired by” than direct translations of foods mentioned.

The cookbook is categorized in the following chapters:
1. Breakfast of Champions (19 pages)
2. Breaking Bread (17)

3. Soups, Stews and Salads (41)
4. Humble Beginnings (15)
5. Seafood (7)
6. Chicken (22)
7. Meat (Beef, Lamb & Pork) (5)
8. Wild Games for Wild Girls (18)
9. Desserts (47)

The “Tips from Your Sponsor” snippets give readers helpful tips plus Katniss’s Family Book of Herbs is included in the book. The index does not include characters (except Katniss and a few districts) and the cooking skill level fits teens and above. Reader could even sign an adventurous “gatherer” to nab the largely naturally ingredients at the store or even in the backyard/woods.

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, published by Adams Media, is recommended and is priced at $19.95.

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  • http://www.lunch.com/JSMaresca-Reviews-1-1.html Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    As a juicing enthusiast, it pays to know which are the correct edible flowers for juicing purposes.