First, some shameless self-congratulations: Cannonball! I was originally thinking I could only do a half, which I signed up for, but here I am with a full 52! Yay me 🙂 OK, moving on.
Steampunk Tea Party is probably the best Christmas present I’ve gotten in a long while. Long Live Book Exchange! It’s part cookbook, part photo book, and part short story collection. Each of the six chapters has a theme with recipes, excerpts from character voices, pictures of characters in elaborate costumes, pictures of recipes, brief info snippets about ingredients or in some cases substitutions, or decorating.
It’s just fun to read and look at the pictures as the characters are classic enough to recognize and fill in blanks, but abbreviated enough to allow for imagination. The info snippets and the introduction are detailed enough to provide some genuine information about both the Victorian time period as well as the Steampunk genre.
To illustrate, Chapter 1 is titled “All Aboard the Airship Elegance”, and includes a letter from one lady Emilly (the author’s persona) to a Lady Lyssa describing her air-trip, an invitation to tea in the observation lounge from one Captain Cornelius Day, and excerpts of dialogue or story with each recipe. The recipes are for things like Lavender Creams, Chocolate Elegance Scones, Gin and Tonic Cake, Airship Cake Pops, Venusian Delight, and Steamer B Gin Tea Cocktails. This sounds like a really fun adult tea party menu. These recipes are not really for kids, not only because of the alcohol which is plentiful, but just some of the flavors involved. Recipes include notes concerning preparation (Pantry Perfections) and alternatives for flavors and general presentation (Housekeeper’s Perks).
My only complaint about the recipes is that many call for obscure ingredients which may be A) hard to locate when one lives not in a large metropolitan area and B) not likely to be of use for much of anything else. For example, Venusian Delight is basically absinth-flavored Turkish Delight (which sounds amazing). Absinth is not commonly stocked in most US liquor stores that I know of, although the recipe does offer possible substitutions such as Blue Curacao. Similarly, finding lavender essence flavor might prove a bit difficult as well as the question of what to do with the rest of it. Even if one follows the notes about making your own, you still have to find dried edible lavender, and then what do you do with the rest of the batch? The decorations for some recipes are pretty elaborate such as turning cake pops into airships. I’m not especially talented or patient enough to do that kind of detailed work, although I certainly can appreciate the professional looking results. I suspect my own attempt would prove far less pretty.
The rest of the chapters present The Scientific Chateau, A Curious Picnic, Regimental Lunar Encampment on Mars, Voyage from the Deeps, and Blossoms in Shangri-La. There are also a couple of appendices that provide info on resources, largely concerning decorative supplies, as well as places to look for info on Steampunk in general. There’s also some conversion charts (the recipes tend to use metric but also include the Imperial equivalents), and biographies of the author, photographer, and digital designer (which I assume means layout? here).