The Beauty Within Pop-Culture Inspired Cookbooks


The official “Avatar: The Last Airbender” cookbook is coming out in November. (Courtesy of Twitter)

 Everyone inevitably searches for some sort of escape from the tumultuous lives we lead. Some find it tucked away in a cozy corner, lost within the pages of a fantasy novel. Others binge-watch endless episodes of a show at once, feeling as if they’ve transported themselves into the TV screen. Some people even believe they can “reality-shift” through an intriguing combination of meditation and REM sleep (ask TikTok about that one). However, sometimes all you need is a good meal plucked straight from your favorite fantasy world. 

Cookbooks inspired by pop-culture phenomenons have steadily risen in popularity over the past few years. Fans of various franchises want to feast on the meals their favorite characters enjoy so much, so they can feel as if they’re in that world. Therefore, when given the chance to recreate these specific meals, many people immediately jump on the opportunity to experience the magic firsthand. In a way, these meals make these magical worlds feel so much more real to us. 

There’s the “Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook,” which plucks treats straight from the Hogwarts Express’ trolley, such as pumpkin pasties and Dumbledore’s favorite lemon drops. “The Sopranos Family Cookbook” lets you enjoy a wide variety of Italian cuisine, such as Carmela’s very own Lasagne with Basil Leaves. “Eat Like A Gilmore” takes you straight to Stars Hollow, teaching you how to make Sookie’s famous risotto and the Santa burger. 

While some cookbooks make a lot of sense, others stray into the absurd. “The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide” teaches its readers how to survive an impending zombie apocalypse with Carol’s acorn cookies and Carl’s pudding. “Baking Bad” may not offer any recipes for meth (for a good reason), but parodies the highly-acclaimed program with “Blue Meth Crunch” rock candy and post-explosion “Fring Pops.” “Tequila Mockingbird” takes inspiration from various literary classics, such as its namesake, for over 65 different cocktails. Even Snoop Dogg has jumped into the fun, teaming up with Martha Stewart to write “From Crook to Cook,” inspired by his own fame. Who would’ve thought that Rolls Royce Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies would be so tasty?

Many chefs have hopped onto this trend, resulting in increasingly tasty results. For instance, Andrew Rea, an internet personality known as “Babish” to his loyal fanbase, specializes in pop-culture cuisine. He started his career off with his “Binging with Babish” YouTube channel, where he filmed cooking tutorials for the most recognizable fictional foods. He released the official “Binging with Babish” cookbook in 2019, which offers 100 different recipes stemming from fictional worlds. Rea has recreated Homer Simpson’s Patented Space-Age Out-of-this-World Moon Waffles, Matilda’s giant chocolate layer cake and even Kevin’s Famous Chili from “The Office.”

The genre shows no sign of slowing down, with many highly-anticipated titles set to release soon. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is getting its very own edition inspired by the Four Nations’ cuisine on Nov. 9, following its resurgence in popularity last year. Even BRAVO’s Real Housewives are releasing their cookbook, titled “Cook It, Spill It, Throw It,” on Nov. 16. 

The creative opportunities are endless with these meals, and that’s what makes these cookbooks so special. Anyone can throw together a quick pasta dish and call it a day, but adding one simple ingredient inspired by a show or book that you love elevates its connection to those enjoying the meal. For example, one can make a batch of lemon cakes and leave it at that. However, following Rea’s recipe for Sansa Stark’s lemon cakes instead, you’ve immediately pleased every “Game of Thrones” fan in the house. 

With these pop-culture inspired cookbooks, cooking doesn’t feel as much as a chore anymore. Now, it forges a deeper connection with the meals you make. In a way, you see yourself in your meal as it becomes a homage to things that make you happy. So go ahead and put syrup on your pasta in honor of Buddy the Elf. No one is stopping you!