Nanny Ogg's Cookbook
by Terry Pratchett
REVIEW BY THOMAS LAKE
The last time I had an occasion to look at a cookbook it was in a high school Home economics class during a time in my life where I was starting to grow facial hair and feel very confused about a whole lot of things. And my few attempts at cookery had to undergo the Rites of the Elder Sign and be banished back into the Dungeon Dimensions. So it was with great surprise that I found myself in a bookshop one day looking at this book and then suddenly walking up to the counter and buying it.
Featuring one of the Three Witches of Lancre known to the fans of various novels such as Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords @ Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum and The Thief of Time it is in fact a genuine cookbook, written by Nanny Ogg herself with the capable assistance of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs and illustrated by Paul Kidby. Previous publications by the author, The Joy of Snacks and Mother Ogg’s Tales for Tiny Folk were banned and withdrawn respectively. In fact from the various comments from the author’s Discworld publishers certain references were censored concerning the language of flowers and gingerbread men and women.
Recipes are not the only feature of Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook. It is also a Source of Items of Antiquarian Lore, Improving Observations of Life, Good Advice for Young People on the Threshold of the Adventure that is Marriage, Notes on Etiquette and Many Other Helpful Observations that will Not Offend the Most Delicate Sensibilities. Of course naturally any observations that do offend the most delicate sensibilities (or cause people's wives to laugh uproariously at them) have been removed.
The recipes come from all the various characters of the Discworld; there is C.M.O.T Dibbler’s sausage inna bun, a recipe for bread and water donated by Lord Vetinari, Leonard of Quirm’s how to make a cheese sandwich and various other culinary delights favored by prominent figures of the Disc. In the recipe for Wow-Wow sauce is mentioned, as a side note, the defining feature of the kind of people who are wizard material; mainly this consists of men who enjoy slapping a meat patty on a bun covered with several different kinds of pickle, mustard and several green things. If you are a male who is into this then you have the magical bent to be a wizard (A propensity to nick off down to the local for a few refreshing ales is also a must).
Dwarf cookery is also mentioned in the section on recipes, though the recipes have been adjusted by Pratchett @ Briggs, as traditionally dwarf cooking is not so much a form of filling the tummy with sustenance as with dealing horrible damage to ones enemies. And rat is not likely to become the next big thing in contemporary haute cuisine (though you never know).
From culinary lore the book moves into a section on useful advise on diverse subjects from the various forms of address to various bigwigs to going away parties for those about to meet up with the Grim Reaper; literally. In between the various insights on such matters there is often the interesting tidbits concerning witches, apparently any occasion from birth to death is best to have a witch involved and that said witch should been given food and drink (Nanny Ogg recommends ham rolls and beer) to make sure things go smoothly.
All in all Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook is a very good read whether your interested in the recipes, a budding witch looking for good advice from an expert, a fan of Terry Pratchett’s works or all of the above. And Paul Kidby’s illustrations of the various personalities are simply fantastic; the one of the Pictsies is very good. Forget little cutesy people with butterfly or dragonfly wings these guys are woad and kilt wearing bother boys prone to saying “I’ll do you Jimmy” at any opportunity - even if your name is Miyamoto Mushashi.
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