The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animalsby Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
Tachyon Publications (2010)
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 email@example.com