One of the most obscure pieces of Doctor Who merchandise over the years has been the Doctor Who Cookbook, the cover of which is remarkable in itself featuring exactly what you’d expect, a Dalek, a Cyberman and a Yeti in aprons and chef’s hats. This was back in 1986 and is undoubtedly a sign of the times. Sadly I don’t have a copy of this to hand but apparently its contents are accumulated from the various cookbooks of the show’s stars with something alien wedged into the name, a gimmicky way to get many a frustrated parent’s children to try something new. This brand new book, written by Chris-Rachael Oseland is an up to date collection is an extremely comprehensive collection of recipes that goes through the revised series episode by episode with a mix of snacks, cocktails, desserts and main courses.
There are over 90 recipes, one for each episode of the revived series and a bonus chapter of Fish Fingers and Custard alternatives, which is actually quite intuitive, if you want the street cred of saying you’ve tried it without actually sacrificing your dignity. As you can imagine there is something for everyone, something that the author has carefully considered as there is an appendix at the back of the book indicating what recipes are suitable for Veggies, Vegans and people with wheat allergies. So full recommendations on that account.
The collection of recipes have varying degrees of difficulty and levels of adventurousness. One of the most endearing features of this book is that the author Chris-Rachael Oseland has documented her journey of experimentation as well as cramming in as much love for the show as possible, as well as being a little bit cheeky when it comes to the various cocktails. This aspect of the book makes it an interesting read to see the progression and translation from screen to dinner plate.
There are more and more fan critique collections, Doctor Who fans seem to be an opinionated bunch, but this is a very casual sharing of thoughts, like having a very excited fan in the kitchen with you, rather than having someone try and provoke you like anyone who says ‘Love and Monsters was one of the best episodes of Series 2 made better for the absence of the titular hero.’ (Replace ‘Love and Monsters’ with ‘Blink’, then you’re talking.). However, it does mean that it is difficult to see exactly what a recipe will make at a glance, but the preview copy I had didn’t have all the pictures in. A second problem this presents is that having selected a recipe, the instructions sometimes take a diversion into a personal account about the episode in question. For pedants like myself this diversion from step by step instructions does not fit in with my manly routine of read, act, repeat, but fortunately this only happens occasionally.
On the flipside, most of the recipes are actually quite fun. Although I’m a fussy eater and sadly there were some items I looked at the ingredients only to turn my nose up at them, there are numerous takes on how to make your food look like a Dalek to compensate. My personal favorite being a carved banana with blobs of chocolate spread, and some chocolate fingers stuck in it, though bizarrely the food equivalent of a plunger is a cotton bud… but it doesn’t take a genius to do the right thing and replace it with another chocolate finger. Similarly the white chocolate strawberry Cybermen heads are in the same camp – quick and easy with a fun twist.
Oddly, I find the Matt Smith series translates better into food, the Doctor’s selection of snacks from the Eleventh Hour is appropriate enough, complete with smiley face apple and the Doctor’s last supper from the Impossible Astronaut, which is basically cheese and wine. Also there is the edible crack in the wall, which sadly does not come with instructions how to make an edible Rory to erase from history in your stomach. But from the effort the author has put in, it wouldn’t be too difficult.
It’s the snack foods that I think are most successful and attractive as they’re the simplest I think and a nice treat. Even good old British Beans on Toast gets a makeover: though not particularly exotic, it clicked with me that this book was written in the US where baked beans aren’t so commonplace. Similarly with home cooked chips (Steak fries), an alternative to the much more ubiquitous fries. Still, just adding that little Doctor Who spin, a fun way to look at what is otherwise a very basic dish. I get the impression this book was written with Doctor Who themed parties in mind, which sadly I haven’t been privileged, enough to attend as I think that kind of gathering is more a US fan thing, but if such a thing did happen I’d be ecstatic to see such delights. What appeals more to me is the cocktails, not because I’m an alcoholic, but because you can mix it all up and serve it, if they like it and ask what it’s called, just knowingly address it as an Apple Grass Cocktail, like you picked it up on some adventure.
Overall, this book is meant to be fun and it’s written with love that is why I think the basic recipes work best as they avoid being a chore. A pocket size version of this book with more generalized snacks would be brilliant. Naturally there are more elaborate recipes if you’re feeling more ambitious such as the L.I.N.D.A.’s TARDIS Wellington (which goes some way towards making ‘Love and Monsters’ more appealing). The main thing I think would help would be some sort of difficulty rating system to see at a glance how hard each recipe will be, otherwise taking time out to read the book on its own before hand would be beneficial.
Inevitably if you did deep enough, due to the diversity of the selection you’ll find something you like. I can see it being great for those within friend circles of fans and also like the occasional dinner party or Doctor Who party (invites welcome) and also oddly, mums. This is great material to get kids to try new things, especially if a dietary requirement is a big factor. If Doctor Who and cooking are two of your interests, this is definitely worth picking up if only for inspiration. But if you have one of these Doctor Who Parties coming up, then this is surely a must. Invites welcome.
Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook is available to buy now.
We are currently seeking Doctor Who contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a Doctor Who contributor, click here.