A Man must eat… Jaqen H’gar’s Ideal Meal

…and in this case, that man is Jaqen H’gar. It has to be close to three years ago now that you all threw out some wonderful suggestions for this meal, and inspired by a recent episode of the show, I have finally taken full advantage of them. I fear I have not quite done your excellent ideas justice, but a girl has to finish the post eventually, one way or the other. A man, however, eats what he must, and it’s important to keep in mind that Jaqen H’gar is a man who has to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.  

The prevailing thoughts about this meal included Venetian-inspired spicy seafood from Braavos, as well as smaller, easily transported foods, some of which could be foraged. I also loved the idea of incorporating some food trickery, and after looking into it just a bit, discovered that it was a medieval practice. There were historical recipes for making meat look spoiled, presumably to keep unwelcome guests from over-taxing one’s food stores. This would probably fall under a subcategory of Subtleties, or showpiece dishes (more on those later). In this case, the duplicity of such a dish would fit well with a faceless man’s meal. 

So in the end, I used a lot of your ideas to create a two-sided meal. For the man-on-the-go half, I took Juli’s idea of foraged quail eggs and paired it with some fruits, roots, and meats. A man would eat whatever he could come by in the wilderness, and might not be able to risk a fire for fear of discovery. A man might eat eggs raw, but I boiled mine.

For the more cultured Braavosi half of the meal, I agreed with Marianna about the Venetian connection, and went with a spicy squid ink pasta and scallops with a dash of caviar. Notice that black and white color palette of the main course? Yes, it was intentional. 

Jaqen H'gar's ideal meal

My relatively simple meal included:

  • scallops on a bed of purple cabbage and fennel, served on endives (very pretty!)
  • squid ink pasta with spicy cream sauce and mixed seafood
  • quail eggs, fruits, nuts, cured meats
  • mock-Sahlep, a thick spiced drink sold on the streets (recipe)

Venetian inspired Scallops, on bed of fennel and purple cabbage

Honorable (and comedic) Mentions:

  • Kate Quinn – all Black and White foods
  • John Billburg- molecular gastronomy, for some ‘magic’
  • @forkspoonknife – chameleons!
  • B Lolly – a delicious sounding array of specific Venetian dishes

 One thing I really wish I could have incorporated is a deceptive sort of food, to represent the faceless man’s changeable nature and capacity for deception. Instead, I hope to do an entire post that looks at medieval subtleties. Let me tell you, there were some amazing ones back in the day!

I also loved the idea of doing those black/white half moon cookies, although they definitely wouldn’t be eaten in that fictional setting. I might still have to do that, although I’d make them rectangular, to better imitate the doors on the House of Black and White. 

 So that’s it! Now that this post is done, it clears the way for future character-themed posts, and I know there are some great contenders out there, so be sure to check back in to see who’s next. Oh, and if you love that faceless man coin in the photos as much as I do, you can get your own over at Shire Post!
 
Faceless Man Coin from Shire Post - Valar Morghulis

 

Pomegranate Syrup

Pomegranate Syrup Recipe

Pomegranate Syrup, poured over lemon sorbet

Thoughts:

I hadn’t realized until someone asked me recently online if I had a good pomegranate recipe that I was, in fact, completely lacking any such thing. I use pomegranate seeds a lot as a garnish in photos, and love to snack on them, but as far as cooking? Nada. So, I started to look around for what I could do with the stuff, and settled on this super easy recipe for starters.

This delightfully simple syrup packs a heck of a flavor punch! It’s as good on meats and salads as it is on desserts, or even mixed in with drinks, both hot and cold. The syrup is pucker-worthy in its tartness, but that’s part of its glory. While the consistency is thick if you cook it for the full time, it’s still pourable, which means you can deploy it on any delicious edible you like. Rim of a martini glass for an ominous looking cocktail? Check. A simple glaze atop a cake? Check. Personally, I consumed all of mine on several successive dishes of lemon sorbet, and have approximately zero regrets about it.

Where in Westeros?

I would immediately put it down in Dorne. Pomegranates are a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, both of which resemble their Dornish counterpart. It would likely have worked its way up the trade routes to King’s Landing, as well, where those with wealthy cooks could enjoy it any number of ways. Pomegranate lemonsweet to help relax on sweltering days in the capital? Yes please!

Pomegranate Syrup Recipe

Cook’s Note: While you can certainly juice your own pomegranates, I find the process to be hugely messy, and have yet to accomplish it without staining some garment or another. Instead, I buy the smallest bottle of pomegranate juice at the store, and go from there.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice (about 4 pomegranates)
  • 4 Tbs. raw sugar or honey
  • Optional additions: a little ground pepper/grains of paradise, lemon juice, mint, etc.

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce and thicken as it cooks, and further thicken when it’s cool. If serving over frozen desserts, allow the sauce to cool at least an hour before serving.

For easy deployment, just use it any way you would use balsamic vinegar. If you manage to not eat it all at once, store the remainder in the fridge.

Stuffed Aubergines, c. 1570

stuffed Aubergines

Thoughts:

A number of quirky Lenten dietary choices were made this year by members of this household, and that meant I had to go searching for new recipes to accommodate those restrictions. Thankfully, medieval cookbooks were all about recipes for Lent, and that’s where I found this beauty. It’s in the Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, which you ought to know by now is one of my favorite historical cookbooks.

The recipe is really quite quick and easy to prepare, especially by medieval standards. I made the fully Lenten version, which is entirely vegan, but I suspect it would also be just delicious with a bit of sausage added in. As it is, it’s still delightfully flavorful and unique. The saffron turns the broth a brilliant yellow that contrasts nicely with the dark skin of the eggplant. The quirky collection of spices and herbs combine for a flavor mix unlike anything I’ve tasted, even in the realm of historical cooking. In short, it’s delicious.

 Where in Westeros?

Eggplants in medieval times had worked their way over to the Mediterranean from Asia. They were a different vegetable than our modern ones, smaller all around, but slightly larger in Italy, by all accounts. As such, I’d peg this as a dish from Essos, or even possibly the Reach, through Dorne.

Recipe for Stuffed Eggplants

Cook’s Note: The recipe is as I made it, for a Lenten fast day. You can also add an egg and about 1/4 cup grated parmesan for some extra body and flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 4 small eggplants (under 8″long)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup each walnuts and almonds, roughly chopped
  • pinch each salt, pepper, ground cinnamon and cloves
  • 1 tsp. mixed herbs (as with Italian seasoning)
  • 1 cup rough breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. wine vinegar

Broth:

  • water
  • pinch saffron
  • a good pinch each of salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and mixed spices, as above
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. wine vinegar

Take your eggplants and chop the tops from them as close to the stem as you can. Taking a melon baller (or a spoon, but that’s more difficult), carefully scoop out the insides of each eggplant, saving the excess eggplant. Place the insides of the eggplants in a food processor along with the garlic, nuts, spices, herbs, and breadcrumbs. Pulse a few times, then add the olive oil and vinegar, and pulse a few more.

Using a small spoon, gently divide this mixture evenly among the four eggplants, pressing it into them until it is all used up. Place the filled eggplants in a small saucepan with tallish sides, and fill 2/3 up with water. Add the above ingredients for the broth.

Cover the pot and simmer over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender. To serve, place each eggplant on a wide bowl, and carefully cut in half. Pour a bit of the broth from the pot over, and serve up!

Pynade – pine nut brittle

Pynade. Take Hony & gode pouder Gyngere, & Galyngale, & Canelle, Pouder pepir, & graynys of parys, & boyle y-fere; than take kyrnelys of Pynotys & caste ther-to; & take chyconys y-sothe, & hew hem in grece, & caste ther-to, & lat sethe y-fere; & then lat droppe ther-of on a knyf; & if it cleuyth & wexyth hard, it ys y-now; & then putte it on a chargere tyl it be cold, & mace lechys, & serue with other metys; & if thou wolt make it in spycery, then putte non chykonys ther-to.Put honey, spices, and pine nuts into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep boiling the mixture until it reaches 300°F (what’s called “hard crack stage” in candy making). Pour onto a baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil. Allow to cool and then break it into pieces and serve. -Two 15th c. Cookery Books

Cook’s note: Some folks are not fond of pine nuts, and others are not fond of their hefty price tag. You can easily substitute other nuts in this recipe, although you may have to chop them down a little first. Pistachios would lend a pretty color, while walnuts are a classic pairing with spiced honey. You can also mix and match the spices, based on what you have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups honey
  • pinch each ginger, galingal, cinnamon, ground pepper (black or long), and grains of paradise
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts

Combine the honey and spices in a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat, and begin cooking. When the mixture reaches 300F, or hard-crack stage, remove from heat. Add the pine nuts, stirring vigorously to incorporate them. Pour the whole mix onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone pad. When cool, snap the brittle into pieces. Store tightly sealed at room temperature for several days.

Kitchen Curiosities: Pastry Jagger

I have a confession:

I am heartily addicted to attending auctions.

And not necessarily to buy anything. Honest. In a large part, I just love the frenetic atmosphere, the social buzz of congratulations and irritation, and the calculated bidding of long-time pros. I’ve learned the all-important lesson that nearly every piece of beautiful old furniture, while unique, is not the only lovely piece that will ever sell at a great price.

That said, every now and then I find an item that is just fantastic, and truly rare. In this case, it was a pastry jagger, probably from the early to mid 19th century.

Now what, you might ask, is a pastry jagger? It’s essentially a historical kitchen unitasker, meant for cutting pastry dough with its wheeled end, and poking holes in it with the (sometimes) tined end. I had only recently learned about these implements, so when I saw one at the auction, I knew I had to try to get it. I stealthily built a box lot (totally allowed at this auction) of Pyrex, assorted dishes that looked boring and valueless, and the pastry jagger in a baggie with a couple of clay pipes. Fortunately, the auctioneer didn’t list my top pick when enumerating the contents of the box, so there was next to no competition for it. The fellow sitting behind me was very surprised when I pulled this out of my box of loot, and declared it a “great buy”, a high commendation from one auction-goer to another.

Anyhow, I thought it was just a delightful little thing, and wanted to share a few pictures with you!