Title: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
Author: Dinah Bucholz
Publisher: Adams Media
Release Date: September 18, 2010
I was so excited to get the chance to review The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook! It sounded like so much fun but upon its arrival and a quick flip through I found myself rather disenchanted. It is missing one of the most important things I think all cookbooks require: pictures! Sure, I know that being unofficial they couldn’t use pictures from the movies or anything, but that’s no reason for there to be absolutely no pictures of the food! That’s how I decide what I want to make, by skimming over the yummy images, and after asking a couple of friends I know that I’m not alone.
Enough on that for a minute though. The book really is cool. The recipes are divided into sections, like chapters, and each section has an introduction. Even better, each individual recipe has an introduction too, telling you about it, some food history, and where in the series it falls, going so far as where to find the specific food mentioned, book and chapter. It’s like the author went through every book page by page and noted any food that was mentioned. I really enjoyed all the intros. They were interesting and very insightful.
Some of the recipes sound great while others seem to be a stretch just to fill pages. Really, do we need a recipe for french fries which consists only of potatoes and salt? I think we could have skipped that one. Not every single food ever mentioned in the series absolutely had to be used in the book. Also, while talking to some friends about the book, the one recipe that one of them really wanted to see I couldn’t find in the book — Butterbeer. I was a tad disappointed that the one specific thing I was looking for wasn’t there when there were other recipes that didn’t really need to be included.
Some recipes are more of a stretch of the imagination, like when Harry’s friends sent him four birthday cakes. Since the books didn’t tell us anything more about them, they were “imaginings” by the author. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it didn’t strike me as very authentic. If there wasn’t enough info to create a recipe, just making one up didn’t really feel right with me.
I really wanted to try out a few recipes for my review but after lots of reading and considering, only one thing really piqued my interest. This I attribute entirely to the lack of pictures. Yes, there it is again, my chief complaint. If there were pictures I’m sure many more recipes would have stood out and screamed “eat me!” There are a ton of sweets and what seemed like a million different ice cream sundaes, lots of snack type foods, and even fancy dinners, but without pictures it was difficult to decide what sounded yummy.
Overall I think the book is great, and it has actually reignited my interest in all things Harry Potter. (I haven’t even read the last few books yet due to waning interest.) From a cookbook perspective it isn’t the best, but it still succeeds in giving you a deeper look into the Harry Potter world, one recipe at a time. The average fan might not be too interested, but this book is definitely a must-have for all hardcore HP fans. I can only begin to imagine the fun that could be had if someone were to throw a Harry Potter party, fully stocked with all the tasty tidbits our heroes enjoy on a daily basis. What a party that could be!
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars