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The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals

by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer

Tachyon Publications (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-89239-192-6

I was extremely excited when I first heard about this book and even more excited when I received a review copy in the mail. I've already raved about the book on our podcast (Galactica Suburbia, Episode 2).  You see, it's a book that I felt desperately needed to be written - if we are to have more Jews in fantasy, we *must* be able to know what foods we can serve them at great celebratory banquets and during quick stops at random inns along the long journey of schlepping to go get the thing from the ganif (thief). Additionally, this book will serve as a really useful guide for my friends when they are planning to invite me to a dinner where they plan to cook an imaginary animal. No more worrying about whether or not I will eat the, uh ...slow roasted manticore or spicy phoenix curry or bbq dragon spare ribs.  What's more, there is no better time to review this book than at Pesach - a time when Jews traditionally are obsessed with what foods they can and can't eat.

The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals
is a pocket-sized book cataloguing a variety of imaginary creatures and uses dialogue between Ann and Jeff's evil alter ego, The Evil Monkey, to discuss which animals would be kosher. These discussion are nostalgically reminiscent of various conversations I might have participated in in religious class at school and are also a nod to the kind of rabbinical debates that lead to schools of thought on Jewish laws (like, but in tongue and cheek).

It's a really fun book and made me laugh a lot. I especially enjoyed bits that stretched the concept to include questions like, "can I marry a mermaid?" Sadly though, there is no entry for unicorn - the first creature I of course looked up (my guess is that unicorns would not be kosher, for obvious reasons). But you know, as per the blurb on the front from Bubbe “What use is this? If ever I were to cook one of these, you know you wouldn’t eat it anyway.” Which, is actually true because I'm a vegetarian.

And right now, to mark the release of the book, Tachyon Publications is asking for your kosher cryptozoological recipes:

Do you make a mean chupacabra challah? Are you renowned for your Loch Ness latkes? We want your recipes!
Of course we won’t take your recipes and give you nothing in return. We’ve got prizes, bubala. On April 30 We’ll select the five best recipes and send their authors signed copies of The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals.
When you’re ready, send your recipe to
Visit www.kosherimaginaryanimals.com to learn more about the book and how to submit your recipe.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
"my guess is that unicorns would not be kosher, for obvious reasons"
That made me spend some time reading up on the rules and I'm still confused a bit.
The way it's phrased in a few places the relevant rule here would be, I am supposing, mammals that are cloven hoof & ruminant are fine, those that have one but not the other are not.

Horses are neither cloven hoof nor ruminant so is it that having neither trait makes them totally disqualified?
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
Yes - basically for me it's obvious because horses are not kosher and a unicorn is the horn plus horse - they have neither trait but would need to have both cloven hoof and be runinant to be kosher.
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
I'm going to stay on the safe side and serve you triffid goulash and Ent risotto next time I have you over for an imaginary dinner. You're vegetarian, right?
Mar. 30th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
I don't suppose they included Triffids? That would be an interesting one - not only whether it was kosher but also if you would eat it (intelligent plant aliens)
Mar. 30th, 2010 06:37 am (UTC)
Mashed triffid is very nutritious - that's canonical from the novel.
Mar. 30th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
As long as it has hobbits in it.

Mmmm... Hobbits, with their nice smoky flavour and finely marbled texture...
Mar. 30th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
Haha, I am so getting this for my brother's birthday. He has a job where he belongs, in the financial sector, now, but for the last 4 months he has been wandering the streets of LA searching for ANY sort of employment he could find.

When he applied for a job in a bakery, they asked him what he knew about kosher baking. He was concentrating so hard on not telling them he had a degree or that the one time he tried to bake bread we used it to crack walnuts, the question totally threw him. Instead of saying, "I know everything!" and then rushing home to ask his Jewish girlfriend, I think his face went a bit confused and he started babbling something that didn't make sense, and that was the end of the interview :D

Mar. 30th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
We had "Hobbit" in there but took legal counsel that it'd be best to leave it out in case of "reprisals". Considered adding a creature called a "Lobbit" but had to nix that, too, alas. thanks for the review. jv
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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