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Book review: Gastronogeek: 42 Recipes From Your Favourite Imaginary Worlds

21 January 2021 by

Have you ever seen characters eating a meal in a film and wondered what it tastes like? That's the question that French chefs Thibaud Villanova and Maxime Léonard set out to answer in this book, which imagines dishes that might be served in the cinematic, literary and television worlds of Harry Potter, Star Wars and more.

Villanova worked at Paris' pop culture-inspired the Last Bar Before the End of the World from 2012 to 2014 and describes himself as both a geek and a "gourmand who is passionate about food". Since Gastronogeek was first published in French six years ago, he has launched a successful YouTube channel of the same name for his fandom-inspired recipe videos, and written several more cookbooks focused on fictional worlds.

This book is clearly a labour of love, and is split into sections on science fiction, fantasy, comics, horror and manga. Fifteen fandoms are represented; each has inspired three recipes, divided into appetisers, main courses and desserts.

The authors have given consideration to the environment and ingredients which would be available in each fictional world. It results in dishes such as a rabbit stew cooked by Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings; a 1950s burger likely favoured by high school bully Biff Tannen in Back to the Future; and a coconut meringue dome inspired by the frozen Star Wars planet of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

Recipes are straightforward and without the need for any specialist equipment or extensive time. But given the fantastical settings from which they are drawn, it is disappointing that some are so simple. The chef notes that Gastronogeek is for "everyone who loves cooking and good food", including novices and hobbyists. Despite its novelty aspect, the book contains a genuinely useful glossary of culinary terms for beginners, explanations of cooking techniques and a comprehensive table of ingredients that pair well.

There is little to challenge professional chefs here, but the focus is more on fun than creating a technical challenge.

Gastronogeek: 42 Recipes from Your Favorite Imaginary Worlds by Thibaud Villanova and Maxime Léonard. Available from Running Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc

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