The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide author Lauren Wilson joins us to answer questions about the process of bringing recipes from the show to life.
About ‘The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide’
From people foraging to fuel up for survival to buying allegiance with cookies, there’s no doubt that food plays an integral role in the series. With the dying need for these recipes, Insight Editions is pleased to announce the publication of The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide ($29.99; October 10, 2017), offering unique recipes and survival tips inspired by AMC’s hit series.
The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide details the skills and recipes anyone would need to survive (while trying to avoid being eaten!) during an unexpected walker apocalypse. The cookbook features more than 60 mouthwatering recipes for breakfast, dinner, drinks, and even dessert, including iconic meals inspired by those featured on the show, such as Carl’s Chocolate Pudding, Carol Peletier’s Cookies, and Daryl Dixon’s Deer Stew.
The book also contains vital information on foraging, hunting wild game, and cooking outdoors to help make the transition into any emergency scenario slightly less terrifying.
Interview with ‘The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook’ author Lauren Wilson
How did this book first come to fruition and what made it a challenge worth taking on?
Great question! This book came to fruition because I had already written a cookbook for the zombie apocalypse, The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook & Culinary Survival Guide. In some crazy, unforeseen and totally amazing twist of fate, this made me perhaps the most qualified person on the planet to write a cookbook for The Walking Dead. “Challenge” is the perfect word to use for this project because I was working with a very tight timeline: I had to write the entire book and test 60 recipes in the span of three months. The reason it was worth taking on is that in my decomposing heart of hearts I am a huge zombie nerd and a big fan of the show. It was a no-brainer.
What makes this book different from your first one, ‘The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse’?
The two are similar in lots of ways, but ultimately very different in my mind. For The Art of Eating, I was working in a universe of my own creation, and I went pretty hardcore in terms of apocalyptic setting — I assumed there would be no access to electricity and most other modern technological conveniences. In the universe of The Walking Dead show, they are lucky enough to have access to electricity and refrigerators and community farms, among other things. So the recipes reflect that.
What I love most is how practical the official cookbook is: the first section is all about basic survival guidelines. How much research did you have to do, and are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse?
The answer to the research question is a resounding SO MUCH! When I was writing The Art of Eating, I was starting from absolute zero in terms of survival skills and knowledge, so that process was pretty intense. I read tons of books, talked to tons of experts and conducted many an experiment in my backyard. When I was writing The Walking Dead book, I had to do even more research to reflect what was going on in the universe of the show. For example, the group at Alexandria has access to a pretty kick ass solar array, so I had to dig into that. And essentially everyone in the universe of the show is still using gasoline, so I had to look into that: it turns out gas does “go bad.”
As far as being ready for the zpoc, that answer is a resounding NO! And it doesn’t have to do so much with skills or supplies, but the fact that I live in New York City. When it comes to the zombie apocalypse, population density is not your friend (more people = more zombies) and NYC is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. So I am pretty sure I wouldn’t make it past the initial outbreak!
What was the process like in creating these recipes? Did you approach them any differently than you would regular recipes?
In short, yes. I would consider myself a HUGE nerd, and on top of that a big fan of the show, so I wanted to make this book as true to the universe of the show as possible. I combed through every single episode of the series looking for food scenes. Most of the recipes in the book come directly from the show itself, things we see characters making or eating. For instance, Dwight’s Egg Sandwich or Carols’ Beet & Acorn Cookies. Others are inspired by characters or locales or situations from the show: for example, Dixon Deer Stew or Chicken a la Lucille. As far as my general philosophy went for writing the recipes, again I tried to stay as true to the show as possible. The general theme is simple, easy and accessible, since we are talking about post-apocalyptic cooking after all.
Which recipe(s) provided the biggest challenge?
The recipe that provided the biggest challenge didn’t make it into the book. In Season 4 there is an episode (“Claimed”) where Michonne finds a can of Crazy Cheese. She overfills her mouth with it and pretends to be a walker, trying to get a laugh out of Carl. I really wanted to do a version of Crazy Cheese that people could easily make at home, but I wasn’t able to get it right!
What are some of your favorite recipes from this book?
Great question! And a tough one. I love The Wild Boar Chops with Juniper, Apples and Sage, and I always like to mention that bone-in pork chops make a wonderful substitute for home cooks. I also love Hershel’s Spaghetti Tuesday Dinner because it’s so simple yet so delicious. And Carl’s Chocolate Pudding because it’s so easy and contains such simple ingredients, yet tastes like it came right out of a can!
Of course, I have to ask — who’s your favorite ‘Walking Dead’ character?
Such a hard question! I was a huge fan of Denise before she met her untimely demise, and I think that Merritt Wever (the actress that played her) is such a talent. But I think my heart is torn between Daryl and Rick. In my opinion, the convergence of writing and casting for those two characters has been PERFECT.
What can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? (Or any dream projects you’d love to work on!)
I am actually working on a dream project right now! It’s a cookbook but it’s only in the proposal stage and so I don’t want to give too many details about a half-baked idea. BUT I will say that I am VERY excited about it, and that I need to move quickly, so keep your eyes peeled. Details will be coming out soon!
About the author
Lauren Wilson is a professional chef and cookbook author. She graduated with honors from Toronto’s George Brown Chef School in 2008. Since then, she has worked in various capacities in the food world, from fine dining to cheese-mongering, online sales, catering, teaching cooking classes, and writing for print and online media. She is the author of The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse (BenBella Books, 2014), an illustrated cookbook and culinary survival guide. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.