Review by Linnea ‘LiteralGrill’ Capps
From folktales like "Stone Soup" to modern-day anime like Restaurant To Another World, people have been fascinated with stories based around the foods we eat. The Furry Cookbook, edited by Thurston Howl, seeks to explore these concepts through a unique lens only available with anthropomorphic characters. As Thurston puts it himself, “You get to deal with whole new elements: predator-prey dynamics, ethics of cannibalism, vegetarianism, heightened senses, and even food law.”
Each of the nine stories in this anthology comes with a unique recipe you can cook yourself at home to fully immerse yourself in the works. These are accompanied by pictures with the ‘hosts’ for the book Destry Roden and Rakedu which add wonderful levity after reading through some of the darker themes within. As a fair warning, these stories can deal with erotic or other adult themes so this book is for those eighteen and older. With this in mind, let’s talk about the stories!
The Flower Of Carnage
In this story, Cedric G! Bacon explores the hellscape of a war zone and the effects it can have on those that live in it. Quincy is an aging feline that was able to live through the war, thanks to the help of the shrewd Olga Koch. In a warzone, no one can be picky about what they have to eat but Quincy and Olga both end up consuming what might be considered a delicacy: The Flower Of Carnage. Quincy, now much older, is looking to try this dish with Olga one last time. This story explores some dark themes in a most fascinating fashion, an excellent story to start off the book. My attention was fully held from start to finish, and the ending left me wanting more, the greatest praise for any story!
The Greatest Steak
"A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach" is a common enough phrase, but does it apply to ladies as well? Alison ‘Cybera’ Cybe writes about a college-aged squirrel named Ricky trying to win the affections of a mouse that frequents the diner where he works. The story is cute enough, if a bit short. The end to this tale is a guaranteed smile however, making it a worthwhile read.
The Diner’s Club
Would you eat lab-grown meat? Ever wonder how the sausage is made? Elmer is a lion working for Synth-Pro making lab-grown meats for purchase and consumption. Seeing just how his meal is made every day has made him weary of food, but a fellow lab tech named Victor knows just how to help: an exclusive dining club. Elmer quickly learns that maybe a salad is the better option after an unforgettable meal gets him wrapped up in unbelievable trouble. The idea of lab-grown meat eliminating the need to slaughter animals is a big thing to consider, and Frances Pauli explored it well. The small outro to the story he wrote was also an excellent look into what inspired this great piece of fiction.
Bucking The Trend
Be they smores of pudgie pies everyone has a favorite campfire meal. "Bucking The Trend" by Madison Keller not only looks at food but talks about being trans through a unique anthro experience which I found very enjoyable. Theo, the main character of the tale, ends up sharing a surprise meal with a stranger around the campfire. Good stories, good food, and good company could lead to something even better.
A Slice Of A Non-Invasive Species’ Life
How can you sustainably supply meat in a world with anthropomorphic carnivores and herbivores living together? Is it okay to let carnivores eat those that have died? What about if some animals aren’t sentient, is it still wrong to eat them as an animal yourself?
In this story by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, when a deer and his wife invite over a wolf for dinner all these questions and more are on the table, alongside a home-cooked Danish meal. An exchange between the cultures of wolves and deer lays the backdrop for a look into what this kind of world might be like. Even with just a short story, the world is built up wonderfully. It would be interesting to see more stories in a similar setting.
A brief warning, this story by Al Song does contain rape elements as roleplay. If this is something you are uncomfortable with, this story is not for you. With this in mind, the story makes it very clear that it has a roleplay scene within and has a warning like this before it as well. Both were excellent touches.
This story took a sharp turn in the middle I wasn’t expecting. The transition of storytelling style was a bit abrupt, but it led into a creative story. How do you manage to help your partner get into shape when normal personal training methods don’t seem to work? This story is a sexy look at unique ideas to do just that. It’s as enjoyable as the cookie dough recipe at the end (yes, I had to give it a try)!
Blind Taste Test
This story by Kevin Miles gets deliciously naughty but does so in a thoughtful way. To anyone that has delved into the world of kinky play or BDSM, they may remember just how intimidating it could all be at first. Amanda is a mouse going through these exact feelings as her girlfriend Carol tries to help her get comfortable and enjoy herself in a most unique way. This story not only talks about proper consent and setting scenes for play but also keeps things saucy and exciting until the climax.
What if one day you could suddenly turn into an animal? I know plenty of people would love their new powers! What if however, it wasn’t your choice? Or those with these powers were forced away into havens away from normal society, how would you deal with a loved one suddenly changing and being forced to leave your side?
Fenrir Black takes a look at questions like these as Rachel goes to a haven to meet her boyfriend. Her boyfriend has become an anthropomorphic Therian Lion and has been living at Cedar House the past three years. Over a picnic lunch, we learn a lot about the struggles found by Therians in this world and the struggles of trying to date and love someone quarantined from regular society. It’s a touching story filled with strong emotional conflict.
This anthology took stories from the serious to sexy and combined them all together for an enjoyable read. It’s always a good sign when you suddenly realize some hours have passed that you missed as you were too enthralled to put a book down.
This collection of stories is wonderful for any fan of food in general, but even more so those that like to dig deep into a story and think. The stories presented, even some of the naughtier ones, are done so with nuance providing quandaries worth considering in depth. This is the kind of anthology that sticks with you a while after reading: I would highly recommend it.