There’s a pretty popular joke about online recipes that I’m sure you’ve heard: before the author of said recipe actually shares the ingredient list and steps to make the specified dish, they write hundreds of words about their history with the recipe, their travels around the world to discover such a culinary delight, or their relationship with their beloved great-grandparent who passed down their wisdom in the kitchen. To avoid doing that myself, I’ll just jump right into this review here, as Insight Editions have recently published a brand new Wonder Woman book.
Wonder Woman: The Official Cookbook, to be precise.
With over 50 recipes compiled and written by Briana Volk, the cookbook leans heavily into Mediterranean ingredients and flavors to deliver multiple courses worth of delicious-looking snacks, entrees, and drinks.
What’s more, in keeping with Diana’s proclivity to commune and speak with animals, every dish is vegetarian, so there’s not a piece of chicken or steak in sight.
Regardless, there’s hardly a recipe here that wouldn’t appeal to someone, and there are plenty of dishes that even people who would proudly describe themselves as carnivores are sure to enjoy. Beyond that, though, the book is written to appeal to novices in the kitchen as well as trained chefs, so anyone can make themselves a tasty meal with this valuable resource.
The book is hardbound and incredibly sturdy, so it can withstand splashes and spills. The pages are easy to fold down, too, so you don’t have to worry about propping the book open so you can keep looking at your desired recipe. It lays flat, and the binding allows even the pages at the beginning and end of the book to stay open without a fuss.
To make the recipes accessible to newer or less confident cooks, there’s a helpful glossary of common terms used throughout the book, so if you aren’t sure what “al dente” means, or how exactly you’re supposed to “fold” your ingredients together, Volk explains each term quite well. I’m not exactly an expert cook myself, though I do watch a ton of Food Network, but even then I still didn’t know what “shaggy dough” was, so I’m glad it was covered early on.
The recipes themselves are divided into the expected categories, though with fun names: Battle-Ready Breakfasts, Amazonian Appetizers, Sides, and Snacks, Mighty Mains, and Superhero Sweets. There’s even a plastic stencil of Wonder Woman’s logo included at the back, which is helpful for decorating some of the desserts and cakes.
My favorite section, though, was Party Time, where a few common party and get-together ideas are presented with the best dishes to serve. Throwing a birthday party? All the appetizers, main dishes, and desserts are listed so you can deliver the best possible Wonder Woman bash. Needing some good movie night snacks and treats for when Wonder Woman 1984 drops on HBO MAX? The dips, nachos, “olive swords,” and pastries will certainly satisfy the movie-going munchies. This section isn’t necessary to make this a successful cookbook, but it shows that care and effort went into making it the best possible resource for meal planning.
But where does Wonder Woman fit in with all of this? Better yet, how does Wonder Woman fit in with all this?
Well, for one, given the fact that most of the recipes are inspired by Greek and other Mediterranean dishes, Wonder Woman is the perfect hero to help broaden the appeal of this cuisine. The actual branding in the book is accomplished by using a variety of images of the Amazon and her supporting cast from her entire publication history. Doc Shaner’s Wonder Girl is presented on one page, while an early Sensation Comics cover follow shortly thereafter, and then a gorgeous Jenny Frison image pops up in the back of the book. These comic illustrations complement the food photography quite well, which itself is wonderfully shot in high definition images. I dare you to look at the beautiful watermelon and grapefruit salads, the flaky crust of spanakopita and baklava, or the delicious layers of a lasagna and not want to make them yourself. And the cover of the book? That Amazon Treasure Fig and Cream Cheese Cake? I want to cut out and frame that picture, it’s so perfectly shot.
As for the actual theming of each recipe to Wonder Woman? It’s… no better or worse than other licensed cookbooks. Like I said, the overall cuisine is a perfect fit for Wonder Woman, and there’s some fun wordplay to be found: Hero’s Journey Hash and Fighting-Fit Feta Toast made me smile, Peaks of Paradise Biscuits and Mango Lassi of Truth are pretty clever, the Dip of Strength and Power made me laugh (in a good way), and of course Etta Candy gets her own Candy Cookies. It would have been a shame had she not.
Then there are some dishes like Steve Trevor Egg Salad and Feed the League Nachos that seem like they were included because someone thought “well, we have to mention Steve somewhere.” I know it’s a silly point to make, and the names don’t effect the recipes one bit. Still, some of the the connections are tenuous at best, though I can still appreciate them in their corniness.
To put the book (and my culinary skills) to the test, I made three of the recipes contained therein: Gift of the Gods Salad, Themyscira Tomato Soup, and the Mango Lassi of Truth.
Yes, that is a McDonald’s Batman Forever glass mug holding the lassi. Only the finest vessel should be used for such a tasty concoction.
The salad was easy to compose, even with the lengthy list of ingredients. It doesn’t require you to make a dressing, instead using just olive oil and red wine vinegar to coat the ingredients. The vinegar gives the salad a nice acidic kick, and I absolutely loved the combination of the salty creaminess of the feta cheese with the bright freshness of the watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The soup was quite tasty as well, and much easier to put together than other tomato soups, though it came out thinner than I prefer. As for the lassi… oh my goodness, that was delicious. The tartness of the Greek yogurt gave it a little kick, and the mango and milk gave the drink a nice, smooth flavor. The recipe calls for a sprinkle of cinnamon as a garnish, but pro-tip: add more than you think you need and then mix it in. It takes the drink to another level, when it was already at an A+.
Given that most of the enjoyment of this book will vary from person to person, particularly in the appeal of and desire to make the different recipes, I’m going to forego giving it an actual score. Instead, I will just sum up my overall thoughts on this cookbook: it’s a well-produced resource with excellent food photography, clear and concise recipes, and fun attempts to tie into the world and history of the Amazons. It’s a different kind of book, to be certain, but if you approach it with an open mind (and stomach), you’re sure to find plenty to enjoy.
Insight Editions provided a copy of this book for the purposes of this review.
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