I love video game books of all stripes, so when the opportunity came a-knockin' for one of us to dive into God of War: The Official Cookbook of the Nine Realms, there was only ever going to be one person for the job.
For context, the spread of cookbooks 'for' games has now seen them become some of the best gaming books you can get. Not only are they fun recipe selections for making Nice Food, but they often have brilliant artwork, developer insights, or, as in this case, extra lore that only serves to enhance your experience of the game. Much like the best video game art books, they are a brilliant addition to the world of gaming merch.
Anyway, getting back to the cooking at hand. After I had inspected the book, and I had played through a chunk of God of War Ragnarok, there was an easy test to be had: can I make the stew Tyr creates in the game at Sindri's house? Heading straight for the cookbook's Jotunnheim chapter (he is a giant, after all), the answer to that is 'yes'. But with guidance from narration and instruction from Týr in the book, there's a fun journey to be had with each recipe, and this one is a banger...
(OK, for full disclosure, you can't tell precisely what stew Tyr makes in the game, and there are a couple of them in the book's Jötunheim chapter, so this does muddy the waters a bit. But the stew connection is there isn't it!?)
We see none of Tyr's process in the game, so I was left to my lonesome and the book in my quest to make a delicious Norse stew. One thing that the book does very well is group recipes into realms, but it also throws in specific herb and spice mixtures from some key places too. There's a Jotunn Spice Mixture for this Venison Stew recipe that needs creating first, for example, and the food would be very plain and boring (in taste as well as meaning) without it.
Týr describes the mixture as one he learned from his travelling days in the northlands of Jotunnheim, and it adds an extra fun bit of lore while you pound some herbs and seeds into a fine powder. (I now have a jar full of this stuff, so I'm committed to more recipes.)
Týr sets the scene for this recipe with some story-telling flare, reminiscing about joining hunting parties in Midgard where deer abounded. The lands were so plentiful, in fact, that the giants took their existing love of soups and stews and added the venison.
Jotunn spice mixture made, and smothered over the venison - please note that I did not hunt this myself - it's time for cooking. The book makes this really simple to do by breaking up the instructions nicely. You're never in danger of getting lost; the more elaborate text is reserved for Týr's introduction and description.
Speaking of which, the guiding light describes this as an easy dish to be made on the move as all you need is a fire and a big pot - like we see in Sindri's house. And this is largely true; it really does feel like the perfect stew for essentially throwing stuff in and forgetting about it for a few hours. With a few tweaks to make it all work in a modern kitchen, it really is a good and easy one to do as a first recipe. And the herbs make it smell delightful throughout.
Fit for the gods
The recipe gives you so much of the damn stew I had to do it in batches, but this main dish of it - before and after three hours in the oven - shows how it goes. Boy, does that look like a stew, right?
It makes the house smell terrific while cooking, and my wife commented on this immediately after coming through the door. It really does conjure up imagery of being out in the snowy wilds of Midgard, or listening to Týr's stories around a fire. Or, indeed, sitting around the table in Sindri's house after Tyr has spent all day making it.
Importantly, it'd exceptionally delicious too. The recipe makes for a meal that's warming, balanced with vegetables and meats (and beer), wonderfully seasoned and spiced, and perfect for these sub-zero conditions we've got in parts of the US and UK right now. The delicious factor is strong in this one.
As such, if you're browsing gifts for gamers this winter for Christmas or birthdays, then God of War: The Official Cookbook of the Nine Realms gets a wholehearted recommendation from me. It's not just a gimmick of a book, but genuinely fun and useful! I'm going to have a great time with it this winter.
And while I wait for my copy of The Art of God of War Ragnarok Deluxe Edition to come following a delay to that book's release, the cookbook is filling the hole nicely (in my collection and in my belly). It's going to provide plenty of inspiration and meals over the holidays for me to get right into, long after I've completed the game.
Looking for other merch recommendations? Then check out our guides to the best Fortnite merchandise, Harry Potter merchandise, and the best Game of Thrones merchandise you can get right now.