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Author George R.R. Martin’s imagination is famously active when it comes to scenes filled with blood, sex and betrayal — but the man behind Game of Thrones is equally interested in another topic: food.
Throughout the five published novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, the name of the books on which HBO’s fantasy series is based, Martin has written copious scenes packed with overlong descriptions of bountiful feasts for crows and lords alike. Whether it’s succulent roasted meat at a royal wedding feast, or a stringy piece of pathetic beef in the minutes before a traitorous act of deceit, Martin paints astoundingly vivid pictures of the meals in Westeros, to the point that his writing has inspired numerous Game of Thrones cook books and amateur recipes.
Although there’s no Thanksgiving in Westeros, the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms and even the lands beyond know a thing or two about how to eat. Here are some of the most memorable meals in the Ice and Fire series:
1. The First Supper
It’s not the most descriptive feast in Ice and Fire, at least not where food is concerned. In the fifth chapter of A Game of Thrones, Jon Snow gets drunk on “sweet, fruity” summer wine and feeds honeyed chicken to his newly acquired direwolf Ghost, all while the lords and ladies of Houses Stark, Baratheon and Lannister imbibe at the more prestigious end of the hall. What the scene lacks in extraordinarily detailed descriptions of food, it more than makes up for in history, as Jon lays eyes on folks like Jaime and Tyrion for the very first time — a rare occasion of Stark and Lannister breaking bread with one another.
2. Dinner with Dany and Drogo
Safety concerns aside, Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo’s wedding came stuffed with a dinner menu sure to turn some heads. Not a fan of horseflesh? If it doesn’t sound at least somewhat appetizing when “roasted with honey and peppers,” then feel free to pass and gorge instead on the assorted “steaming joints of meat,” including duck wings loaded with “honey and grease … thick black sausages and Dothraki blood pies, and later fruits and sweetgrass stews and delicate pastries.” A Dothraki wedding without at least three meat-induced comas is deemed a dull affair.
3. The Red Wedding
As if Walder Frey wasn’t monstrous enough for butchering the Starks during a wedding celebration, the food he put on the table to mark the occasion puts him over the line. The infamous Red Wedding featured a dinner menu of “a thin leek soup, followed by a salad of green beans, onions and beets, river pike poached in almond milk, mounds of mashed turnips that were cold before they reached the table, jellied calves’ brains and a leche of stringy beef.” Catelyn Stark observes that it’s “poor fare to set before a king,” but then again, Frey’s foul taste in food shouldn’t be her chief concern.
4. The Purple Wedding
Joffrey Baratheon’s last supper was one for the history books, consisting of “honey-gingered partridge,” “roast herons and cheese-and-onion pies,” “trout cooked in a crust of crushed almonds,” “crabs boiled in fiery eastern spices,” “slivers of swan poached in a sauce of saffron and peaches” and more — not to mention the pigeon pie Joffrey chooses to slice himself, using executioner Ilyn Payne’s sword. The pie was served with “a spoon of lemon cream,” but Joffrey was too dead to savor the flavor.
5. The North Remembers
Book readers mourned the absence of Lord Wyman Manderly of White Harbor from the HBO series for many reasons, but none bigger than this: The morbidly obese Northern lord, publicly loyal to the horrible House Bolton but secretly in league with the rebuilding Stark forces, serves delicious pies during Ramsay Bolton’s wedding feast, “as wide across as wagon wheels, their flaky crusts stuffed to bursting with carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips, mushrooms and chunks of seasoned pork swimming in a savory brown gravy.” Except most readers believe that it’s not pork, but the flesh of wicked Walder Frey’s relatives, that he’s feeding to Freys and Boltons alike. “The best pie you have ever tasted, my lords,” Manderly tells them at one point. “Wash it down with Arbor gold and savor every bite. I know I shall.”
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