A cookbook urges a return to traditional methods of harvesting and preparing food.
Don’t let the title mislead you. This work doesn’t offer recipes that feature trolls but rather encourages people to start cooking like the famous folkloric creatures who, unlike their human counterparts, are still “in touch with the realities of the natural world and the rhythms of the year.” Readers who accept Cammell (The Stumpers, 2014, etc.) and Marsh’s (The Mentalist's Handbook, 2018) conceit—that trolls actually exist—will be treated to a quirky, thoughtful guide to old-fashioned cooking. Information is presented seasonally. The opening section, “Winter,” includes instructions on selecting essential tools, like a cast iron pan and a good knife, and an overview of grains as well as straightforward recipes for such dishes as creamed winter greens and cornbread. “Spring” covers foraging everything from cattails to wild roses; roasting meat; and tending a garden. Cheesemaking and fishing are addressed in “Summer” and storing and preserving food in “Autumn.” Interspersed with the practical tips are facts about trolls; folktales that focus on the creatures; and Cammell’s series of delightful color illustrations that depict them. The point is to help readers call up a little of the “old magic” of cooking by passing on processed foods of mysterious origin and modern conveniences like microwaves in favor of locally grown, seasonal food that can be prepared simply. While some recipes are quite elaborate, such as the instructions for concocting a classic plum pudding, others can be easily made by those with little culinary experience and no special tools. The emphasis is on “experimentation, trusting your gut, and using what you can find” instead of turning out Pinterest-perfect meals. While the volume is not specifically aimed at children, parents who are looking for a fun way to teach their kids about food and cooking should find it especially useful. Among adults, those with a taste for whimsy will likely be charmed by the frequent references to trolls and their mythical ways; the less fancifully inclined may find the tone grating.
An inventive, amusing guide that’s perfect for those looking to get back to basics in the kitchen.