Full disclosure, I cannot cook at all. My best attempts at baking, in any capacity, end with small yet fierce kitchen fires and more wounds than an amateur snake-handler. So, when the opportunity for me to review The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook rolled around, I had to take it. After all, who better to judge than someone who is easily confused and frightened by the art of cooking?
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook sells itself as a companion to the dual lives of the book’s protagonist, Katniss. Half of the cookbook is dedicated to hearty salt of the earth style dishes, while the other half concerns itself with the decadent dishes that would be found in the Capitol. Seeing as how most of my meals are hastily eaten in front of a computer screen, I figured that a decadent recipe would be a nice change of pace.
Now came the hardest part of reviewing The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: picking which dish to prepare. Of course, by “prepare” I mean burn to cinder or just give up on halfway through. I could of course try “Banquet Baked Partridge With Cream Sauce,” however, I don’t really know where to find a partridge or what a partridge actually is, so that’s out of the question. Perhaps I could try “Venison-Stuffed Pepper Boats,” but then again, deer-hunting season is long over and I live by the beach. I decided to stick with something simple; something that I’m told is a favorite among children hunting each other for sport — buttermilk biscuits.
The “Katniss-Approves Puffy Buttermilk biscuits” are in this cookbook because “Katniss orders this dish along with a side of goose liver. But when the puffy bread can’t quench Katniss’s hunger, we see that it’s a metaphor for the Capitol itself.” Sure, I’ll just take your word for it.
Like any great buttermilk biscuit recipe, this one starts with ingredients that are great for the soul, but terrible for the body. Buttermilk, sugar, salt, butter, and white flour all make an appearance in this recipe, guaranteeing that, if successfully baked, these biscuits will promptly send me down a shame spiral.
Four steps are all it takes to make this recipe happen. Just four simple instructions stand between delicious Katniss-approved biscuits and me. Shockingly, the simple act of mixing ingredients and using an oven didn’t prove to be too overwhelming. The step-by-step instructions were succinct and yielded a less-than-nightmarish cooking experience. 12 lumps of heart-stopping dough later and I was ready to bake.
Fifteen minutes later:
Well I’ll be damned, would you look at that. In just fifteen minutes my biscuits were a golden brown testament that almost any idiot with a spatula could make palatable food.
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook is a sort of anomaly. It serves as more of an inside joke to diehard Hunger Games fans than an actual cookbook. Most of the recipes are direct selections from the books and seem all but inedible to people not starving (see “75th Hunger Games’ Dutch Oven Tree Rat”). However, the recipes that are grounded in day-to-day life are not only edible, but also pretty delicious even when crafted by unskilled hands.
If you’re a Hunger Games fan or shopping for a fan, this is something worth checking out. With all of the nods and winks to the source material, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook serves as a fun and accessible addition to Suzanne Collins’ magnum opus.