Halo: The Official Cookbook Review: Please Chief, Can I Have Some Moa

Halo: The Official Cookbook Review: Please Chief, Can I Have Some Moa

Video games and food aren't something most would talk about in the same breath, but there are an awful lot of connections between the two worlds. Whether it's games that task you with rustling up delicious grub like Overcooked and Cooking Mama, or simply food featured in games looking so good you wish you were an NPC in its universe so you could try it for real. If anything on the dining tables of the Halo series has ever made your mouth water, I have some very good news, and it doesn't even require you to leave this mortal coil and take up the role of an NPC in an endless loop to experience it.

No, this is far simpler. Well, unless you dare to try and build the Full-Stack Ground Pounder, but more on that in a little while. There is now an official Halo cookbook, and I had the chance to flick through its pages and sample some delicacies Master Chief and his fellow Spartans eat and drink when they're not saving the galaxy. What's a lot of fun and sometimes downright amusing is the perspective from which the cookbook has been written. It's not a “these are the meals you've seen/are enjoyed in Halo, try making them yourself”. Instead, the book is written from the perspective of a human named Arturo Bustamante who lives within the Halo universe.

Bustamante takes the reader on a culinary journey of their world, splitting the book into various sections filled with recipes inspired by different eating establishments they've frequented over the years. Fronk's, Kuku's Cafe, even the UNSC High Fleet Dining Hall. The amusement comes in the introductions at the start of each chapter. Most label the food as little more than slop, especially when introducing the section made up entirely of recipes inspired by food from vending machines. Those disparaging reviews of the fictional food places are rescued by the repeated clarification that the recipes in the book are based on meals from those places, but readers should be grateful they have been vastly improved upon.

The names of the various restaurants that have inspired the recipes are just one of the ways Halo: The Official Cookbook successfully harks back to the games. Easier said than done for a cookbook based on a series that has almost no connections to food whatsoever. Bustamante is well-traveled. They reference Reach and talk extensively about the scarcity of the fictional bird, Moa. Some recipes even include it, but don't worry. Moa meat has been replaced with one that you can actually buy on Earth, as apparently it tastes like beef. Good to know, I guess.

Speaking of Moa, now would probably be a good time to talk about some recipes. This is a cookbook review after all. There's a lot to get through, and no, I have not had the chance to make and sample every single one. I could have attempted to Platinum the book in the space of a few days, but odds are I wouldn't have survived that effort to write this review. I've sampled a few of the recipes though, and while none of them transported me to Zeta Halo, a few of the things I made I will definitely be making again.

Top of the list was the chicken satay. Kicking off the Thai Game chapter of the book, the blend of spices I used to marinade the chicken (not moa) was perfect, as were the sweet potato fries I made to go along with them. I also made a batch of chocolate chip scones, and while they tasted great, I'm unsure how successful they were. They were definitely not scones when judged by the British definition of the dessert I'm familiar with, but perhaps scones are something different in the US. Let's go with that instead of choosing to believe I slipped up, a much more likely explanation considering my baking prowess.

Other recipes within the cookbook's pages I can vouch for are the hot chocolate, and French toast with orange crème Anglais (something I'd never have made without Halo giving me a nudge). I was hopeful the custard pie would also make this list, but that went very, very badly when I tried to make it. The way my scones tasted filled me with a little too much confidence and resulted in my custard pie going about as wrong as it possibly could have. No, I won't be sharing photos of it here.

Other than the introductions at the start of each chapter, the constant reminder that this is a cookbook based on a series of video games comes in the form of difficulty ratings. Some recipes have been branded easy, others medium, and yes, for those of you who like a challenge, there is a legendary difficulty. Time to talk about that Full-Stack Ground Pounder, as promised. The gargantuan burger has quite rightly been labeled legendary when it comes to difficulty, and it's the only recipe in the book that needs two pages to fit everything in. The ingredients alone take up an entire page, and once complete, you will have a towering meal that includes three different types of meat.

Don't worry, if the thought of three types of meat in one burger turns your stomach, there are plenty of different dishes to choose from. In fact, there's a handy and extensive key in the back of the book that lists all the recipes and who they are suitable for. Whether the recipes are vegetarian, vegan, and also whether they are dairy and gluten-free.

Full transparency, the Ground Pounder probably isn't something I'll be rushing to make any time soon. Nor is the Blast Soda which caught my eye during my first flick through the book since it is bright green. The realization that it required me to pour in 200g of sugar eliminated it from the list of recipes I singled out before writing this review. The same applies to the somewhat mundane-sounding Hot Dog Dinner, largely because the finished article has cucumber on top. Who does that?

This isn't a cookbook I'll now toss in the cupboard to gather dust with all the others ones I've accrued over the years, though. Only seeing the light of day when it's time to move house. I'll be making some of the above recipes again, and there are a fair few others I want to try out. The S'moa Brownies and Curry Puffs being at the top of that list. While most of the food only has a loose connection to Halo, it's a great cookbook. Plus, if you do happen to be a Halo fan, there's a lot of fun stuff in there that has clearly been written by someone who knows that universe inside and out. Best of all, Halo: The Official Cookbook is available right now for $39.99 through Insight Editions.

A review copy of Halo: The Official Cookbook was provided to TheGamer by Insight Editions.


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