Theoretical Foods: Feasts of the Seven

Sept at King's Landing

 

Now that we’ve seen a bit of the High Sparrow in season 5, it got me thinking about the Faith of the Seven, especially in King’s Landing. In our own Middle Ages, the calendar was rife with feast days, saint’s days, and all manner of other religious holidays. The more I think about it, the more I bet something similar could be said of Westeros.

First off, the seven facets of the one are:

  • Maiden – innocence and chastity
  • Mother – fertility, compassion, mercy
  • Warrior – strength, victory, courage
  • Father – justice, protection
  • Smith – fortitude, help with tasks
  • Crone – wisdom, guidance
  • Stranger – outcasts, death

From that, I could easily extrapolate a few things, such as the Mother’s festival day would likely be in the fall, to coincide with the harvest. Maiden’s Day, as we see in Feast for Crows, is a day when only maidens may enter the septs, to sing songs and drape flower garlands at the feet of the Maiden’s statue- I can see some similarities to May Day, there.

While the Stranger isn’t formally worshiped or sung to, I sense that the observances around him would be more a preventative measure, such as our lighting pumpkin lanterns to scare away ghouls on Halloween. Perhaps a few specially baked cakes, left out on the doorstep, to appease wandering spirits? Sugar skulls akin to those used for the Day of the Dead celebrations?

So how about it? Can you think of any festival foods that you’ve enjoyed that could dovetail in with the deities in Westeros? One thing that I love about the fanbase for Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire is that it’s so international. The stories resonate with people from all over the world, who bring to it their own interpretations and traditions. As such, I’d love to hear what regional specialties you enjoy on festival days; If we collect enough ideas, I will be able to devote several posts to making recipes for those special feast days!

Roast Capon

roast capon

Thoughts:

So, a few of you might have seen my Twitter post back in the winter, when I finally found a capon for sale at the local grocery store, of all places. I think I actually frightened a store clerk when I gave a little shriek-gasp of delight and disbelief before hurrying around to clutch the bird protectively; there were approximately 23 other capons for sale in the same case, but having searched high and low for one, no way was I letting anyone take MY capon.

And it’s been in the freezer ever since. Let me make something clear: I don’t have one of those amazing huge modern fridges. Mine came with the house, and while it’s perfectly adequate, it’s not exactly spacious. So a giant capon taking up valuable tater-tot room in the freezer was something that finally had to change.

For those who don’t know, a capon is essentially a gelded rooster. A eunuch, as it were, which accounts for both its size and tasty plumpness. They were all the rage in historical cooking, but have mostly fallen out of fashion nowadays, with the exception of Christmas dinners in some families. We will now be taking up that tradition, as well!

This was my first time actually cooking a capon, but given everything else that has passed through my kitchen, I wasn’t too worried. Once again, the historical recipe did not disappoint. The meat was lightly flavored from the stuffing (possibly too lightly, so take that into account if you try your hand at this recipe!), rich with juices and steaming. With the exception of the delicious dark meat, I didn’t find that the capon tasted too terribly different from a well-roasted chicken, but the overall tenderness of the meat made every bite just a little special. The bird was considerably larger than your average roasting chicken, which made it ideal for feeding about 6 people that night at The Inn. Plus, it made a delicious broth the next day, which will turn up in another post soon!

Now, just to deal with those frozen camel patties…

Recipe for Roast Capon

To rost capon or gose tak and drawe his leuer and his guttes at the vent and his grece at the gorge and tak the leef of grece parsly ysope rosmarye and ij lengs of saige and put to the grece and hew it smale and hew yolks of eggs cromed raissins of corans good poudurs saffron and salt melled to gedure and fers the capon there withe and broche hym and let hym be stanche at the vent and at the gorge that the stuffur go not out and rost hym long with a soking fyere and kep the grece that fallithe to baist hym and kepe hym moist till ye serue hym and sauce hym with wyne and guingere as capons be. -A Noble Boke off Cookry, 15th c. 

Cook’s note: I served this, as suggested, with a ginger-wine sauce. That recipe, along with the Stewed Capon, are forthcoming. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-10 lb. capon, giblets removed
  • 3-4 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. each rosemary, hyssop, parsley, and sage
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of saffron (expensive, and optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash and pat dry the capon, then combine all remaining ingredients except the oil, and stuff the bird with them. spread the oil over the bird, and sprinkle with salt.

Periodically basting as you go, roast for 1.5-2 hours, depending on the size of your bird, until the juices run clear. Remove to a serving dish and let sit for several minutes. If you would like to make a gravy at this point, you can move the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and gradually whisk in a little flour until you have a delicious thick sauce.

Double Drogon Giveaway!

Now that the fifth season of Game of Thrones is in full swing, it’s time for a couple of giveaways! This week, I’m giving away TWO of the Funko POP! Drogon Figures. And following in the spirit of HBO’s #CatchDrogon movement, all you have to do is comment below, and say what recipe you would use to lure the little (alright, not so little anymore…) dragon in to land. The drawing will be random, so it can be any food, not just a Westerosi dish -playing to the judge won’t help! ;)

The names will be chosen on the morning of Saturday, May 2nd, at 10am EST. Good luck!

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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.