From the Kitchen of Inn at the Crossroads
Over the past year, I have dined with the brothers of the Night’s Watch, snitched fruit tarts from the kitchen with Arya Stark, and indulged in a startling variety of meats, root vegetables, and ingredients so strange they would never have otherwise come into my kitchen. My everyday has been eaten up (small pun intended) by fictional foods, and what started as a fun blog project has evolved into a beautiful cookbook.
As one of the authors of the Official Game of Thrones cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire, I’ve learned an enormous amount since I started about blogging, food photography, the publishing process, and shopping on a budget. But what really stood out to me about this fictional food adventure is the chord it seems to have struck with so many fans of this great series.
Why do thousands flock to the property where Lord of the Rings was filmed, and why are conventions filled with fans dressed as comic book characters? Why do some video game enthusiasts labor through the long winter to construct amazing replica costumes and weapons from their favorite games? It all comes down to the same root desire: to connect with fiction on a deeper level.
Can you imagine what life is like on the Wall? Probably, to an extent. But when you sit down to a meal of hot onion-ale broth and black bread on a hungry winter night, you experience something more real than what imagination alone can provide. You know the hunger and satisfaction because you have experienced it yourself.
I argue that the food, like the descriptions of heraldry, clothing, and landscape, are what make some fiction great. The depth of the world is in the details, and the ability to connect with the story in a tangible way is invaluable. It’s why some stories grab us and don’t let go. Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Madmen, The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, and so many more works of literature and popular culture entice us to throw parties, because we love the stories, and the characters, and want to take a step closer to their worlds.
To be able to hold Bilbo’s pipe, or decipher the mysterious markings on a pirate map, or smell lemoncakes baking, these things transport a person to another place, and connect them to a story in a way they cannot access otherwise. It’s almost as though the physical manifestation of something fictional calls to a kind of cultural memory.
It’s that sort of immersive fiction that I really love, and try to capture in a lot of what I do. Are we super-fans crazy for cooking feasts for book parties and episodes of Game of Thrones? Probably. But if so, we are in extremely good company.
Happy Reading, Happy Eating.
Chelsea Monroe-Cassel is one of the co-authors of the new Game of Thrones companion cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire. You can read her posts on Westerosi foods at www.innatthecrossroads.com, and follow her other culinary adventures, both historical and fictional, at her personal blog, www.foodthroughthepages.com.