Welcome Vault Dwellers and Fandom Foodies! This week I want to introduce you to my friend, Victoria Rosenthal, from video game food blog Pixelated Provisions. Why should this excite you? Well, she just so happens to be the blogger behind the upcoming title: Fallout: The Vault Dwellers Official Cookbook — as in THE Official Fallout Cookbook!
You might recognize Victoria from the times she’s participated with us on Fandom Foodies, including her #BattleChefBuffet link-up inspired by Trinket Studios’ Battle Chef Brigade. Now she makes even bigger strides for the fandom-food community with a shiny, new Bethesda-backed cookbook to her name.
This October you can cook your way across the Commonwealth with delicious recipes like Mystery Meat-Wrapped Nukalurk, BlamCo Mac and Cheese, Braised Deathclaw Steak, and a Nuka-Cola Ice Cream Float!
So why don’t we take some time to get to know the Gourmand behind Vault-Tec’s culinary survival guide with an–
Interview with Victoria Rosenthal
What was your first foray into the Fallout Franchise?
My first adventure into the series was Fallout 3. I was in college at the time, and my friends were all playing the game and raving about it, so I decided to check it out. I fell in love with the dark, gritty futuristic world. The humor of Vault-Tec has stuck with me over the years, and the book shows it. But mostly I loved beating mutants with a baseball bat.
Tell me about your culinary background and what led you to create food from fiction?
I am a self-taught home cook. Food has always been very important to me, and as I got older I started trying to make more and more things myself. When I first moved to Houston, I wanted to motivate my friends to start cooking. I started a generic food blog of my favorite recipes written out step by step that lasted about three months. I couldn’t motivate myself to write the posts every week. I got the itch to try again but this time to combine my love of food and video games.
Since then I’ve been working on Pixelated Provisions. My goal, since starting nearly six years ago, has always been to expand my own knowledge of food and explore different cuisine styles by recreating things from many different video game worlds. In some games like The Sims, it’s a little easier to remake a real recipe the game already has. But I love taking something in a game that’s otherworldly and recreating it in my kitchen. Video games always have different fantasy animals and monsters that get cooked up, so I’ve always assigned some easier to find real-world animal products as a substitution.
My first imaginary food recreated was actually the Estus Flask from Dark Souls. I started with the color represented by orange juice, incorporated cinnamon to keep the ash from the fallen undead that fuels the drink, and threw in some alcohol for those good healing properties. I’ve kept that process, taking hints from games to figure out what could represent it, to everything else from Deathclaw Belly from Fallout, to Bloodstone Ice Cream from Guild Wars 2.
How does it feel to be selected as the Official Cookbook Writer for the Fallout Series? What process did you go through in getting the project?
It’s still a bit surreal. About a year ago, Houston was preparing for Hurricane Harvey. My husband and I kept an eye on the weather and decided to bunker down and wait it out. This was our first full-blown hurricane and our coworkers said it wouldn’t be a big deal, but what an experience that was. It was three days of heavy downpours, constant tornado warnings, and long mentally draining nights. We were extremely lucky that our home did not flood and we were able to help a few friends out by offering them a place to stay.
As the storm finally started to let up, I checked my phone and to my surprise, I had an email from an editor at Insight Editions. They had seen my food blog and thought I would be a good fit for an upcoming project they had. This email could not have come at a better time. It really brought my spirits up! We had just canceled a vacation because of the storm, so I was able to create a few requested sample recipes with my newfound time. After a bit of back and forth, they let me know the project was a go!
What is your favorite Wasteland creature to hunt and/or cook and why?
Deathclaw! They might be a scary beast to take down, but all that meat you get from them will make you meals for weeks! I also always make a melee character, and there’s nothing more satisfying than making a character strong enough to go toe to toe with the scariest monster in the wasteland.
How do you think food enriches gameplay in Bethesda’s games?
Food in any game helps connect it to our world a little bit more. Finding ingredients that are related to items in the real world always bring me a little bit of comfort. Sure, I’m in a world that has been destroyed by nuclear fallout, but these carrots really bring me back to reality. Fallout also has a really goofy mix of prepackaged old-timey staples and grotesque mutated creations with the occasional “mystery meat” thrown in for good measure.
What NPC from the Fallout Series is your favorite, or who do you identify with the most?
Dogmeat. I love that little buddy! He makes exploring the wasteland just a little brighter. I probably feel worse when Dogmeat is injured and needs help than if I “accidentally” condemn Megaton to a grizzly fate.
What were some of the challenges you faced in creating the Official Fallout Cookbook and what you did to overcome them?
Prior to this project, I typically worked on one to two recipes on a weekend for my blog and that was very maintainable. For this project, I had to concept, test, cook, and photograph 70+ recipes in about two months while making sure it was up to the publisher’s and Bethesda’s standards. At first I was a little worried about finishing everything, but I was able to set up a schedule that worked well for me. I set aside a week in December where I ran through a majority of the final cooking and photography that I needed to get done.
With an army of hungry friends eager to help, I was able to get through all the recipes and have taste testers throughout the whole process. My husband was a little sad that he had to share, but even he can only eat so much food. Even my corgi, Kanji, got a whole roasted leg of lamb due to a small miscalculation. Don’t worry. It wasn’t all at once!
What is your favorite food item from the game? The upcoming cookbook?
My favorite food item in the game is the Slocum’s Buzzbites. You can find notes in Fallout 4 that detail this recipe. These prototype doughnut holes were never released to the public because they were deemed unsafe. Something about a really small minor issue of 3rd-degree burns? The company found a way to fill each of the doughnut holes with piping hot coffee.
In theory, this sounds like a wonderful idea (burns aside) but to get something that hot into a doughnut sounds extremely difficult. The heat of the liquid would most likely just melt the dough. Since the recipe book has been modified by a helpful vault dweller, I changed the recipe to have a coffee-flavored creme instead. Still very tasty, keeps the theme of the food intact, and considerably less hazardous!
I have remade many of the recipes from the cookbook over the past few months. Some of my personal favorites that have made it into my weekly shopping rotation are the Poached Angler, Radscorpion en Croute, Radgull Power Noodles, and Mole Rat Wonder Meat Dip. Each of these are now staples in my house – they are pretty easy to put together and oh-so-delicious!
Anything else you want to add?
I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the opportunity that Insight Editions gave me to work on this project and I can’t wait to see where cooking takes me next! I’ve definitely grown as a chef and feel even more motivated to bring more video game foods into peoples’ kitchens.
Fallout: The Vault Dwellers Official Cookbook
So are you as excited as I am about the upcoming Official Fallout Cookbook? Pre-order your copy today from Amazon, or on Bethesda’s website. If the thought of eating your way through your favorite games intrigues you, make sure to check out Victoria’s video game food blog, Pixelated Provisions!