Book Review: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

Reviewer’s Note: Review copy of the book discussed here was provided to me at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion.

It was twenty years ago that author J.K. Rowling first introduced us to an adolescent wizard who would bring irrevocable change to his world and our own. The literary juggernaut that the Harry Potter fantasy fiction series would grow into over the course of seven novels has spawned more affectionate ancillary written works, both official and unofficial, than can be counted here. Among these is The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook written by Dinah Bucholz.

Packed with over 150 recipes, this book could rightly be regarded as something like a portkey; to open it is to at once be transported back to a living world of wizardry that has spawned not only a rich, character-driven universe populated by compelling, relatable people and creatures, but also a lush smorgasbord of culinary delights. Through this immersive cooking resource, those recipes bleed into our world, that we too might savor those same treats that appear and recur throughout the series. Presented in chapters with winking titles like “Good Food with Bad Relatives” and “Recipes from a Giant and an Elf,” the recipes are each preceded by an introductory paragraph that calls back to familiar story beats and plot points, reuniting readers with characters who, twenty years on, have been elevated to a status more like surrogate family members than fictional entities in the hearts and minds of many fans. The former example chapter collects dishes and sweets denied to Harry (or allowed, but with a palpable grudge) by the cruel Dursleys, more than a few of them tied to a fateful meal during a visit from Aunt Petunia. The “giant” and “elf” referenced in the latter example will be familiar to readers eager to chew on something good with everyone’s favorite gamekeeper and Hogwarts kitchen staffer. Each recipe intro includes a novel citation sharing in which chapter of which book the food appears, as well as interesting reflections and historical tidbits about its traditional preparation methods, geographical origins, name etymology, and more.

As for the recipes, it is understandable given the source material inspiring this cookbook, that no small emphasis is placed on traditional British fare. One will find the likes of Yorkshire Pudding, Shepherd’s Pie, Steak and Kidney Pudding, and Treacle Tarts; culinary standard-bearers well-known even across the pond. One will also find more esoteric entries drawn straight from the sweetshops and banquet halls of Rowling’s imagination. So instructions for making Acid Drops, Fizzy Sherbet Pouches, and Sugar Mice await as well, poised to confound unsuspecting Muggles and be the stars of your next dinner party dessert course.

With its pages inked to resemble a well-worn book of recipes that have stood time’s test, and evocative story cues interspersing its plethora of dishes that span the gamut of courses from breakfast to pudding and all that falls between the two, this book is a pleasant stroll down memory lane with old friends. It’s a walk worth taking for many reasons, not least of which is the abundance of good eating to be shared along the way.

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: AdamsMedia
ISBN-10: 1440503257
ISBN-13: 978-1440508523

Find The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook here.

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