Sunday, May 06, 2012

Cookbooks: The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler

Could there ever be a sillier or more derivative or even more exploitive idea than a cookbook based on a blockbuster fantasy series? And yet somehow, despite all these perforative thoughts, The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook (Adams Media) really kinda works.

In some ways, this is the ultimate fan fiction: taking the sights and sounds of a series of books transformed into a successful television series and remaining it in food. Make no mistake, though: readers unfamiliar with the television series based on the books by George R.R. Martin will find themselves in a sea of unfamiliar names and references. So many, in fact, that there wouldn't really be much point. Take this preface to a recipe for “Jeyne’s Stewed Onions and Leeks,” for instance:

“Humans, no matter what nation they are from or what kind of family raised them, are innately sensual," writes author Alan Kistler in the introduction. “We always find ways to carry ourselves to places and times beyond our physical reach.”

With Queen Jeyne so attentive, Robb need never go hungry, even when he’s busy making plans for his next attack on Lannisters.

Or this one from the recipe for “Pentoshi Stinky Cheese Plate”:

Any friend of his friend across the narrow sea is a friend of Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos. This is very fortunate for a certain Lannister who found himself in grave circumstances and in need of some hospitality -- and a prodigious amount of wine.

Want something even stupider and more derivative? How about The Game of Groans: A Sonnet of Slush and Soot (St. Martin’s Press) by (wait for it) George R. R. Washington. I may be missing something, but I really don’t get it. While parodies like this and last year’s The Girl With the Sturgeon Tattoo are often sharp and even funny, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever think the laughter would buoy them through the ten dollar investment necessary for the trade paperback original. With so much deeply funny original material out there, why would anyone even bother? ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.



Anonymous B.A. Matthews said...

Sometimes they can be humorous and worth picking up on discount. I think I have two parody books in my bookshelves. The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo (which was almost worth the $5 I paid for it) and Blarnia (which I bought for the sole reason that the idea of children from the early 1900's swearing and asking if they can kill the lion was hilarious).
In general, I agree with you. On the other hand, I think cookbooks are somewhat exempt from this. After all, I think the ability to cook foods described in the books are awesome. Especially the way the guys at "The Inn of the Crossroads" are doing. I'm waiting for that one.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 1:53:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ask, why would anyone bother reading parody? The same reason anyone would bother reading a book based on somebody's experience as an American living abroad: Because it might be well executed and interesting. There are a ton of living abroad memoirs out there, so should we dismiss yours because it's already been done?

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 7:20:00 PM PDT  

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