Gastronogeek Anime Cookbook (Thibaud Villanova) – Book Review

Gastronogeek Anime Cookbook is the latest cookery offering from author Thibaud Villanova, who has previously brought us titles such as The Unofficial Ghibli Cookbook, Disney Enchanted Recipes and Assassin’s Creed: The Culinary Codex. This latest release (his 17th, in fact!) takes inspiration from all manner of anime titles, ranging from classics such as Cowboy Bebop and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure to more recent offerings like My Hero Academia and Aggretsuko.

The gimmick here is that each of the dishes in the book has featured in one shape or another in the related anime. It has Jet’s beef noodles from Cowboy Bebop, a regular meal for the frequently broke crew of the Bebop; Nabe Punch from One Punch Man which is another dish regularly consumed by Saitama and Genos; and Mom’s Katsudon from My Hero Academia, the cure-all for broken bones when you haven’t quite mastered the power of All For One.

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Given that the book takes inspiration from various anime series, it’s perhaps an understatement to say that the recipes lean heavily towards traditional Japanese recipes, and those of you who aren’t particularly fond of mushrooms are going to have a bad time here as they feature prominently in many of the dishes. That said, there’s a wide array of foods on offer, from the simple to the complicated, offering both budding and experienced chefs something to try and test their skills. While this is a fun concept which will certainly appeal to a broad array of fans, one point of caution is that some of the recipes seem to have incorrect ingredients listed, such as Hanji’s Stew which calls for “8 mashed potatoes” but at no point do the instructions actually tell you to mash the potatoes.

Some of the other recipes seem to skip over fairly important steps such as Gin’s Seafood Rice which calls for “2 squid tentacles cooked in court bouillon stock” but the book offers no guidance as to how exactly the squid should be cooked (Boiled? Sautéed? Steamed?), or what court bouillon is (it’s a wine-based stock used for poaching seafood). And yet this recipe is flagged as being a one star difficulty, presumably fine for beginner chefs.

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There are also some typos here that should have been caught at the editing stage such as “For The For The Wraps” in Karaage from Sumire Street. The recipe for Mikey’s Dorayaki calls for “1 tsp coffee of neutral vegetable oil”. One can only assume that coffee isn’t actually needed here. Or is it? Maybe it’s 1 tsp of coffee for the dough instead of oil?

All in all this book seems to suffer from a lack of polish that more seasoned (no pun intended) cooks might be able to work around as they would understand what would or would not work in a recipe, but less experienced chefs might run into problems with these sometimes vague and incorrect instructions – which makes this one difficult to recommend. Maybe one for the most dedicated of otaku only.

Gastronogeek Anime Cookbook is out now from Titan Books.

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