The World of Warcraft Cookbook surprises even the most battle-hardened in the kitchen with its wide variety of tasty entries and a wave of video game familiarity.
When most people think of World of Warcraft, cooking is likely the farthest thing from their minds. Certainly, food is a major component of the game, but the Cooking profession is largely a means to an end: better food equates to more health/better buffs/faster mana regeneration/funny visual effects. Rarely does one stop to break down the ideas behind the food beyond a quick scan to determine how many boars one has to kill for ingredients. But Chelsea Monroe-Cassel did take the time, and here we have The World of Warcraft Cookbook–one of the most surprising real-world pleasures to emerge from Azeroth.
Monroe-Cassel ought to be a familiar name to Game of Thrones fans, as she did the cookbook for that series as well. Here, she has put together over one hundred recipes from the game, covering content from Vanilla to Mists of Pandaria and ranging from the most basic, newbie recipes (Mulgore Spice Bread, which is a Thing We All Made Once) to rare treats some may have never encountered in-game, such as Kungaloosh.
The book is divided into categories for Snacks, Breads, Soups, Entrees, Desserts, and Drinks with a brief section at the beginning dedicated to extras you’ll need such as spices and dough.Photo Credit: Rebekah Valentine
The recipes range in difficulty from simple, five-minute whip-ups to Christmas dinner level–something I actually tested on Day 1 when I was tasked with the Christmas turkey and needed a recipe (spoilers: it was amazing!). Someone who’s an old hand in the kitchen won’t have too much difficulty with any of these, and the range of challenges works well for someone who’s just learning, especially as she ranks the recipes by how difficult they are. Monroe-Cassel’s instructions are almost always clear, concise, and detailed enough for you to follow along as you go without frantically peering over your shoulder for the next harried step.
You’ll also likely experiment with uncommon ingredients, which I’ll discuss more below. For the aspiring chef who has the basics down but wants to learn more, these new flavors were a treat and encouraged me to experiment. I learned the glorious effect wine has on a stew, the wonders of crushing and mixing my own spices, and exactly how my broiler works compared to other people’s.
Then there’s the food itself: almost universally delicious, and more often than not unique from similar food styles you might find via a quick good search. Here are just a few of my favorites:
- Honey-spiced lichen, a simple snack made by baking kale in honey and chili powder. Amazing, satisfyingly crunchy, and healthy to boot.
- Herb-baked eggs, which took time to master but are now my go-to breakfast food.
- Mulgore spice bread, a very simple but effective loaf with exactly the right subtlty in its spices.
- Lukewarm Yak Roast Broth: it’s not luke-warm, and it’s not yak, but it’s the best thing in the world when you’re sick and far simpler than I dreamed it could be.
- Westfall Stew, my husband’s new favorite stew recipe. Time-consuming as all-get-out, but it has bacon in it, so.
- Ogri’la Chicken Fingers, a crunchier take on my usual approach to chicken fingers but highly rewarding when dipped in honey mustard.
- Slow Roasted Turkey: sweeter than your usual turkey recipe, but in a good way. Saved my Christmas dinner by being mercifully easy to make, for a whole turkey recipe. The drippings make fabulous gravy.
- Conjured Mana Strudel: I still haven’t mastered making the dough on this look presentable, but this was the perfect dessert-for-breakfast for any cream cheese lover.
- Cactus Apple Surprise, likely the most complex mixed drink I’ve ever made, is nonetheless something I could get drunk on every night if I didn’t have work in the morning. Sweet, sour, pink, and perfect.
I’ll note that the majority of the recipes in the book are not dishes you can cobble together using things you have on hand. Almost everything in the book required one, maybe two special items from the store (more for the alcoholic beverages, naturally). Though this didn’t bother me as someone aspiring to try new ingredients, if you’re looking for recipes using more common building blocks, this book may not be for you. You may also have to venture outside of your regular grocery for ingredients like red bean paste or juniper berries. Trust me, it’s worth it.
I ran into a few taste duds. The proportions on Mango Ice didn’t work out for me either time I tried, and I ended up with Mango Soup instead that was just sticky and hard to eat. The Rylak Claws tasted promising, but the recipe did not give clear instructions as to the dough proportions and I ended up with blobs of awkwardly-shaped dough and filling oozing over my baking sheet. Then there was the Spiced Blossom Soup: it sounded just weird enough to be good, but…no, it crossed the weird line somewhere and just ended up as a weird, salty-sweet, purple question mark.Photo Credit: Rebekah Valentine
But those duds were rare, and were perhaps due to operator error. By and large, I found the recipes as much a pleasure to eat as they were to make, as well as effectively rewarding regardless of the time commitment involved. I feel that one could enjoy this book just as much as a non-Warcraft fan, though I nonetheless appreciated the reminiscence of each page I turned as well as the subtle nods to in-game locations, characters, and lore.
There’s very little bad to say about The World of Warcraft Cookbook. The only situation I’d not recommend it in is if you’re brand new to cooking and think that, as a Warcraft fan, learning from this book will make it more enjoyable–you’ll be in over your head. But if you’re a Warcraft fan who already likes to cook, or even a non-Warcraft fan who’s looking for some new dishes as well as fresh spins on old ones, The World of Warcraft Cookbook presents a delicious catalog of options. You’ll need some patience and often a weekend afternoon in the kitchen for quite a few, as well as the courage to venture to more specialized markets for certain ingredients, but the payoff is almost always worth it. I’ve worked my way through about half the book now and am looking forward to tackling the remainder with some of the less common ingredients. Juniper berries, haggis, and matzoh balls, here I come! Lok’tar ogar!