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Dining With Our Favorite MCU Avengers Through Cookbooks

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S.W. Sondheimer

Staff Writer

When not prying Legos and gaming dice out of her feet, S.W. Sondheimer is a registered nurse at the Department of Therapeutic Misadventures, a herder of genetic descendants, cosplayer, and a fiction and (someday) comics writer. She is a Yinzer by way of New England and Oregon and lives in the glorious 'Burgh with her husband, 2 smaller people, 2 cats, a fish, and a snail. She occasionally tries to grow plants, drinks double-caffeine coffee, and has a habit of rooting for the underdog. It is possible she has a book/comic book problem but has no intention of doing anything about either. Twitter: @SWSondheimer

Have you ever thought about what your favorite heroes eat?

I have. I’m a writer, I can’t help it. I like complete universes, even if I’m the only one who ever knows the tiny details. I also enjoy cooking and really love eating, in addition to doing the family meal planning, so I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I’m even doing a cooking challenge over on another website for which I’m attempting to cook 100 recipes I’ve never made before in 2019 (I hit 80 last week).

All this to say I have thought about what my favorite heroes eat, and even cook when they have the time, including the MCU Avengers. Of course, we’ve had some hints over the years: we know paprikash is Wanda’s comfort food and Vision couldn’t recreate it to save his life. That Natasha’s go to is peanut butter and jelly. Bucky has a thing for market-fresh stone fruit. Thor has a violent passion for diner coffee…

Of course, our heroes are far flung in Phase 4 and it’s tragically unlikely they’ll be coming together for a potluck. If they could, though, or if they could add to the bed and breakfast for a biker gang’s cookbook library, which cookbooks would they bring?

I’m glad you asked, because I’ve thought about this too:

avengercookbook1Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Eastern Europe by Olia Hercules (Natasha Romanoff)

From pillow soft dumplings steamed over short ribs to Moldovan cheese twists to sour cherry pie, I have no doubt Nat would find the recipes in this book deliciously comforting and reminiscent of home. Though it’s unlikely food in the Red Room was prepared with the care and attention Hercules pays hers, Natasha had a life both before and after her training and must have had something with which she clung to the world; other than the fact she’s a size two, I don’t see why that thing can’t have been food. Besides, I can 10/10 see her locking the door in her flop after a rough mission and popping open some sour cabbage, leaning against the wall in one of her little black dresses, and eating it straight out of the jar or making some campfire mutton soup while she stuck waiting out a blown cover in a remote cabin somewhere.

avengerscookbook2Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American COoking for big nights, Weeknights, and every day by JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls (Sam Wilson)

In my personal headcanon, despite having the habit of drinking OJ straight from the container after his daily runs (which you know Bucky also does and Sam is going to catch him doing and this is going to lead to obsessive labeling of everything in the fridge on Sam’s part) Sam can cook and enjoys doing so, whether it’s for friends, significant others, or just for himself. This Cap has a refined palate and is into deceptively simple dishes like those presented by Johnson and Smalls is this gorgeous fusion book of bright salads, spicy sauces, and perfectly cooked seafood. Some people think fusion cooking means combining, but Sam knows it means highlighting what’s best in each cuisine and putting together an entirely new flavor that’s something more than any of the individual ingredients alone.

The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Bucky Barns)

Give the man his damn plums and let him bake with them.

For some reason, I am completely enamored with the idea of the Winter Soldier baking, and this is my post so I can do what I want.

The Pie and Pastry Bible is a must-have how-to for any aspiring baker, with hundreds of recipes should Bucky want to branch out to other stone fruits or even (gasp) berries. He has plenty of options if he wants to stick with plums, though: plum butter, plum fruit pies, and even a plum flame tart which is so named, alas, due to the color and not to the fact that it is served while on fire. But the crust has some lemon juice in it and the tart does get glazed with apricot preserves so I think this would still be a winner at the Avengers picnic.

avengers cookbook3À La Mére de Famille: Recipes from the Beloved Parisian Confectioner by Julien Merceron, Jean Cazals, Sophie Péchaud, and Julie Serre (Eternals)

If I were an essentially immortal being genetically engineered to be perfect, and didn’t to worry about calories or weight gain or heart disease or cholesterol, I’d dessert all day. And while there are desserts from all over the world I love, I admit a serious weakness for those originating in France.

À La Mére de Famille, originally established 1761, is one of Paris’s oldest and most well known confectioners. They published a book with Chronicle San Francisco in 2011 containing not only recipes, but tried and true tips, tricks, and techniques for classic baking and candy making such as: perfectly browning butter, prepping sugar syrup, preparing shells for roudoudous, candying citrus, and infusing caramel.

Morello cherry financiers? Gimme. Salted butter-vanilla caramel? In my Eternal face, please. Biarritz rochers? Even Thena couldn’t refuse.

Chinese Heritage Cooking From My American Kitchen by Shirley Chung (Shang-Chi)

It’s often difficult to find proper food from home when you’re traveling and wandering adventurer. Shang-Chi has no doubt encountered this problem while in the States where, in many cities, Chinese American food is far more common than actual Chinese food. Chung’s slim but packed volume, however, adapts traditional Chinese recipes for American kitchens, tools, techniques, and ingredients (along with recommendations on where to find those that are more traditional when needed or desired), allowing American or States-based cooks to experience Chinese dishes with authentic flavors. Chung has even found ways to cut down on cooking times for dishes like congee, making them more accessible (my favorite so far has been the broken rice congee which calls for pumpkin, but which I topped with peaches because July. I was not disappointed).

And with far, far less grease than most of us are used to.

Everything I’ve made from this book has been a hit with my kids, so I have no doubt anything Shang-Chi chose would be a hit with even the pickiest of his teammates (Clint). There are also veggie, meat, and gluten-free choices,  so most diets can be accommodated.

avengerscover5Treat Yourself: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats by Jessica Siskin (Vision)

Look, he’ll be hurt if he doesn’t get to participate and it’s literally impossible to screw up rice cereal treats. And they taste like sugar and crunchy so he doesn’t need to worry about that either.

Classic Recipes of Hungary: Traditional Food and Cooking in 25 Authentic Recipes by Silvena Johan Lauta (Wanda Maximoff)

Wanda, despite the leather jacket and her love for a synthezoid, has always struck me as a nostalgic sort of gal, and WandaVision being set mid-century seats her firmly in retro territory. That calls for classic recipes both from a chronological perspective and in terms of ingredients she’ll be able to procure prior to meeting up with Strange in what will presumably be some version of the present. Though who knows if you can get paprika in the dark dimension. And, if you can, which version. When, or maybe “if” is a better qualifier, the gang is back together, Wanda’s classic Hungarian dishes will be a fantastic counterpoint for Sam’s slick, minimalist, modern cuisine and Bucky’s sweet treats.

avengerscookbook6The Marley Coffee Cookbook: One Love, Many Coffees, and 100 Recipes by Rohan Marley, Maxcel Hardy, and Rosemary Black (Monica Rambeau)

Every recipe in this book includes coffee as an ingredient. Every. Single. One. Even the grilled peaches. It adds an amazing depth of flavor to everything from heartier bases like meats to more delicate ones like fish, and a fantastic counterpoint to the spicier components of rubs (cayenne, chilis, hot paprika, etc.). Who knew it had so many uses besides drinking to wake one’s not-enough-sleep ass up in the morning? I returned this book to the library ages ago, but still have some of the brisket and burger rub I made while I had it, and I use that rub all the time.

While we don’t know MCU Monica very well yet, we know her comics counterpart was born in New Orleans, a melting pot of Caribbean, French, African, and Cuban cultures that would, no doubt, find inspiration from the coffee and spices that are the foci of The Marley Coffee Cookbook as well as appreciate the complex fusions of flavors, textures, and stories that went into composing each dish. Plus, so much fresh seafood…

Offal Good: Cooking from the Heart, with Guts by Chris Cosentino and Michael Harlan Turkell (Stephen Strange)

As I mentioned in my Guide to Marvel Phase 4, director Scott Derrickson suggested during the SDCC Hall H Marvel panel that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was going to veer toward horror. I also threw out the idea of using Jason Aaron and Scott Bachalo’s run as fodder for the film, as their run was firmly within the genre and contained such glorious moments as the good Doctor eating evil brain tumors excised from patients by Mighty Thor accessing Jane Foster’s medical knowledge (see: Doctor Strange Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird). In that run, Aaron explains that Doctor Strange has such significant energy requirements (because he’s trying to protect the last magic extant in our realm) that he can no longer eat food but must, instead, consume bits and pieces of creatures from the Dark Dimension.

Not the nice parts either.

Eyeball stew, anyone?

I don’t know who has it worse: Strange, who has to eat the stuff, or Wong, who’s trying to help by preparing it for him.

Regardless, you can’t fight evil, or travel the multiverse, without fuel, especially if you’re trying to untangle the mess a certain someone has made trying to resurrect her robot boyfriend from an alternate timeline (just my guess), so you may as well enjoy your offal as much as possible. Apparently, there are ways to prepare critters nose to tail such that every piece tastes good.

I’ll eat almost anything, but I’m a nurse. I know what livers do.

Stephen can have them.

avengerscookbook7Hot Thai Kitchen: Demystifying Thai Cuisine with Authentic Recipes to Make at Home by Pailin Chongchintnant (Loki)

I don’t know why Loki likes Thai food in my headcanon, but he does. Probably because it takes time to prepare, requires special tools and ingredients, and, when presented correctly, is absolutely gorgeous. And spicy. Because, considering where he grew up, food that comes from a place of heat and sun is exotic, and as much as he professed to hate Asgard, he loves it, and missing it breaks his heart.

Besides, nothing bland for this frost giant.

He likes Thai because shrimp and clams are expensive. Because to make it properly one must find the correct peppers, the right eggplants, the proper noodles, the perfect curry paste. The eggs cannot be too hard nor too soft, the rice neither too hard nor too fluffy, and if a recipe calls for ground duck, you’d best find ground duck with exactly the right meat/fat balance.

Don’t you dare use ginger in place of galangal or vice versa.

And it’s sawtooth coriander or start over.

Not that I think Loki cooks. No, no. He has people to do that for him, unless he’s on the run—and when he is, he eats out. Being able to glamour himself means he can take the time to enjoy white tablecloths and expensive champagne properly and he is 100% one of those people who enjoys picking out exactly which lobster he’s going to be crushing in half an hour.

avengerscookbook8Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge by Trine Hahnemann (Thor)

Now Thor, unlike his brother, I can see cooking for friends and family. Perhaps not when he was a young prince, but now that he’s been through it, seen more of life, experienced loss, learned what’s truly precious. While he’s named Valkyrie King of New Asgard, he’ll always take care of his friends, and that includes feeding them food from the homeland that’s gone and that he misses so much.

Spicy pumpkin soup (he would totally bake the bread for the croutons). Caramel potatoes and gravy. A roast turkey with sweet and sour cucumbers.  A long, loaded wooden table with plenty of ale and places set for those who are no longer able to attend in body but who are remembered in spirit.

Thor would treasure every moment of preparation and every moment of that meal. And as soon as it was over, he’d pull his book down and start planning the next one.

avengerscookbook9L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi, Tien Nguyen, and Natasha Phan (Jane Foster)

Jane is a meal planner. She likes good food, and she certainly needs the energy to wield Mjolnir, but she doesn’t have time to cook every day, so she preps on her days off.

And nothing is better for varied grab-and-go than Choi’s Korean tacos, quesadillas, dumplings, and sides (portioned out into convenient Tupperware). I mean, they’re designed to eat out of a truck in the middle of the night; they have protein, carb, and veg; and, if you’re careful, you won’t even shoot sauce on your boob plate.

Plus, it doesn’t matter what you grab because it’s all delicious and, in a pinch, you can throw the hot sauce in your enemy’s face. It would be a tragic waste but you could do it. If there were no other option.

Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico by Hugo Ortega and Penny de los Santos (Valkyrie)

Valk is used to eating on the run between claiming the souls of einherjar, bounties, sparring sessions with Hulk, and watching matches in the Grandmaster’s arena. While she may be more stationary as King of Asgard, she’s still a busy woman and, no doubt, her travels expanded her palate from the standard Scandinavian fare of her youth.

I think the variety of Mexican street food would suit Her Highness perfectly.

Sweet, savory, spicy. Subtle ceviches to crunchy tacos, light veggies to rich desserts, there’s something to fulfill any desire a royal could possibly have, should she desire to cook for herself, for her future queen, or for all of New Asgard. The dishes from Street Food of Mexico can also be prepared for her should she find herself strapped for time, and eaten while she does paperwork or rides her winged mount into battle.

And just imagine what the pork lard on a tlayuda would do to Loki’s hair should one be dropped upon his head from a great height…

We all know the Hawkeyes are just going to order a pizza so let’s not pretend… 

The fact of the matter is, food is universal. Everyone eats something, even if it’s dark dimension demon bits or ball park hot dogs. So expand that headcanon. Where are you and your favorite Avenger going out to dinner? What are they bringing to the block party? Or even to that romantic dinner? To the fan fiction mobile!