Maybe it’s the cold, foggy weather, but lately it seems that my reading list centers around one thing: food. Pumpkins, carrots, apples — one would think I spend all of my time in the kitchen! But I don’t, as my husband well knows, so besides the weather, I suppose I enjoy reading about food because it’s so darn good. Plain and simple.
Now here I go again with another cookbook. This one, however, has a twist — a medieval twist. Fans of novelist George R.R. Martin’s epic “Game of Thrones” series celebrate his writing for many reasons, one of which is the incredible amount of detail he gives to every scene. In the introduction to this week’s book, written by the “Game of Thrones” master himself, he explains why he places so much importance on detail. “When I read, as when I travel, I want to see the sights, smell the flowers, and yes, taste the food … When a reader puts down one of my novels, I want him to remember the events of the book as if he had lived them.”
Well, he did such a good job of allowing readers to live vicariously through his writing that fans asked for a cookbook showcasing the food and dishes so gloriously described in all of his books. In a case of “ask and ye shall receive,” two women stepped forward to accept the challenge. Having co-run “Inn at the Crossroads” — a food blog devoted to the meals and ingredients found throughout “Game of Thrones” — Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer had plenty of experience cooking and writing about medieval fare. With an endorsement from Martin, the amateur chefs went to work developing period recipes as well as modern versions of Seven Kingdoms food.
Pork pies, trout wrapped in bacon, buttered beets, baked apples, blueberry tarts — these all sound tasty and modern, but surprisingly, such delectable dishes could have and probably were eaten during the Middle Ages. I tend to think of hard bread and thick porridge when contemplating the daily diet of medieval peasants, and I’m sure plenty of bland, pasty food was consumed. But it is heartening to think that beef and bacon pie or peaches in honey may have graced a few feudal plates.
If you’re ready to stretch your apron strings a bit, cross the castle’s moat to hearty cuisine, joust your way to a tournament of feastly fare, check out this cookbook from the library. And may a hundredweight of feudal kitchen magic infuse your “knightly” meals, giving you the ability to “serf” your kith and kin with love and joy. Merry Christmas to all!
Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at email@example.com.