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Eating up 'Hunger Games'

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ou may love reading "The Hunger Games" book trilogy, but do you have plans to camp out for the premiere? Would you try out a recipe for Katniss' favorite lamb stew with dry plums? "The Hunger Games" has morphed into a pop-culture phenomenon, with rabid fans who express their obsessions in a litany of ways. Here's a quick rundown.

It's an event

In Los Angeles a veritable tent city sprouted up before the premiere, bustling with fans waving signs anticipating cast-member visits. Leading up to the premiere, cast members Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth went on a seven-city mall tour (Tiffany — a true innovator). It's not that they're worried about selling tickets. Fandango.com reports that some theater owners are adding showtimes as late at 3 a.m. Friday. As of Tuesday afternoon, "Hunger" accounted for 92 percent of daily ticket sales on Fandango, with nearly 2,000 showtimes sold out in advance. "The film has consistently been a top-seller since advance tickets went on sale last month," Harry Medved of Fandango said last week.

Fans feel a connection

Aarika Smith, who lives in Northwest Baltimore, bought tickets Monday for a Friday showing at Arundel Mills. "I'm off [work] on Friday, but my favorite movie buddy isn't, so the midnight showing Thursday night wasn't an option," she said. "I suppose I'll live." Smith, who has read each of the books twice, relates to main character Katniss, who's competing in the government-sponsored battle-to-the-death. "I think it is inside everyone to want to help humanity and to fight injustice, but we rarely act as long as our conditions are comfortable enough," said Smith, who is "seriously considering" picking up a signature mockingjay pin to wear to the theater. "I think everyone wants to believe that they would act as she did if called upon to do so."

There's a cookbook

While the book's grim dystopian plot does not instantly suggest baking options, Emily Ansara Barnes, author of "The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook," said she immediately got the idea for her culinary take while reading the first book. For instance, she was inspired by a scene in which pivotal character Peeta, the son of a baker, screws up an order so he can give an underfed Katniss the overdone results. "When I got to the part where Peeta burned the bread for Katniss, I thought, 'Wow, that bread sounds kind of good ... other than the burned part." Barnes' book, out now, boasts 150 recipes, from "Katniss' Favorite Lamb Stew" and "Rue's Roasted Parsnips" to "Capitol-Grade Dark Chocolate Cake." Barnes has been a big fan of the book series since first hearing about it from a friend's mother who's a school librarian. "She knew I was disappointed in a lot of recent YA literature, such as 'Twilight,' where the woman loses herself and gives up everything for a man," said Barnes. "Katniss always stays true to herself and does what's best for her — and, more importantly, her family — rather than what might make her romantic life easier." Plus, she loves a good stew.

There's fan fiction

The trilogy has joined the ranks of uber-popular books and TV shows that inspire original writing. At TheGirlonFire .com, one of many "Hunger Games" fan fiction sites, more than 1,000 members have written prequels and sequels. There are even crossovers that add "Harry Potter" characters to the mix. One ambitious author is rewriting the entire series from Peeta's point of view. An example of how specific these pieces are: One prequel is entirely about a relatively minor character, Finnick, being chosen for the 65th Hunger Games, which took place almost a decade before the action in the book.

There's even nail polish

In December, Lionsgate announced it had teamed with China Glaze to create a collection of "Hunger Games" nail polish. The colors? Well, one to represent each District in the country of Panem. And that was just the beginning. The studio has also worked with Cafe Press on licensed designs. The more than 250 products include T-shirts, bags and water bottles. Our favorite products are found on etsy.com, designed by fans around the world. Search "The Hunger Games" and you'll find jewelry that features "Peeta's pearl" and District 12 cupcake toppers. Charlotte, N.C.-based Etsy designer Donna Skibbie, who operates on the site as "Je t'aime Boutique," came up with a glass orb Reaping ball necklace (above), based on the selection process for the Games. "As I read, many ideas began to come to mind," Skibbie said via email. "But it was the scene from the Reaping which, to me, seemed like such a pivotal moment in the series. Deciding who gets chosen for the Games and essentially, who may live or die." Each side of the glass ball is flanked by a gunmetal filigree disc and a black hematite bead, representing the coal miners of District 12, according to the description.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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