How to eat like a Lannister from 'Game of Thrones'
From unusual drinks to sweet lemon cakes, here's everything you need for a bloody good 'Thrones'-themed dinner party.
As the new season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" gallops ever faster toward its premiere date, fans around the world are celebrating with food, drink and get-togethers on par with Super Bowl Sunday. It's in this spirit that we've put together our first themed dinner guide dedicated to House Lannister, one of the great ruling families in the fictional kingdom of Westeros.
While the Lannister family is well-known for being pompous, ambitious and even cruel, they have excellent culinary taste, drawing from a wide selection of foodstuffs from their coastal home of King's Landing. In many ways, the courses served reflect our own modern-day Mediterranean diet, with a variety of dishes rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean proteins like fish, olive oil, red wine and spices.
"It's a hot sunny country, very colorful, so no expense spared," commented set decorator Richard Roberts in a behind-the-scenes video. "So we've mixed it with very exotic fruits, which we've ordered especially in, added a lot more color to food, and mixed some things like couscous with colored berries. Still meat and fish, but just to really heighten the colors, with a lot of food coloring in the breads, and saffrons and reds, lot of pinks, and just made it as colorful as possible to look like it's very exotic, opulent, no expense spared food. Which is more the Mediterranean, sunny produce you'd expect."
Throw down your sword, pick up your fork and knife, and dig into our House Lannister recipe roundup below.
“Turning a corner, they came upon a wine merchant offering thimble-sized cups of his wares to the passersby. ‘Sweet reds,’ he cried in fluent Dothraki, ‘I have sweet reds, from Lys and Volantis and the Arbor. Whites from Lys, Tyroshi pear brandy, firewine, pepperwine, the pale green nectars of Myr. Smokeberry browns and Andalish sours, I have them, I have them.’" - George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, p. 568
If you were to somehow transport yourself into the fictional world of "Game of Thrones," you might find yourself drinking a lot more alcohol than you're accustomed. Through the books and in the television series, goblets of wine are almost as prevalent in scenes as swords and chain mail. According to author George R.R. Martin, it all has to do with the role of wine and other alcoholic drinks in ancient times.
"Water was full of germs," he said of medieval times in an interview. "You drink water, you get dysentery or some of the other diseases. Romans would water their wine. They would have strong wine in a pitcher. And kids would drink wine, well-watered. Water would make you sick so people would drink beer or wine for breakfast. Gives you a new perspective on history."
If you're throwing a Lannister-themed feast, you should serve only the finest grape varieties from around the world. We also have suggestions for some wines that many of your guests likely have never tried before. Should others prefer to wet their palates with something to warm you up, there are also these delicious recipes for mulled cider and mulled wine.
Need something completely distinct but without the alcohol? Try Gazoz – an old-fashioned soda extremely popular in Tel Aviv, Israel, that's made with a variety of fresh herbs and fruits. It's so beautiful in its presentation that we're still waiting for Cersei Lannister to be spotted casually holding one while sitting on the Iron Throne.
"While singers sang and tumblers tumbled, they began with pears poached in wine, and went on to tiny savory fish rolled in salt and cooked crisp, and capons stuffed with onions and mushrooms." - George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings, p. 262
While your guests engage in small talk (or avoid it altogether) ahead of the main course, rally their appetites with a smattering of small dishes. Since the Lannisters in King's Landing have access to a wide variety of delicious and exotic staples, we have a number of suggestions for unique dishes that will catch eyes all around the table. These include a sweet and spicy nut mix from the Mediterranean, edamame and goat cheese crostinis, simple deviled eggs, and finger-picking roasted root vegetables sprinkled with rosemary. Naturally, don't forget the pears poached in wine.
"All the while the courses came and went. A thick soup of barley and venison. Salads of sweetgrass and spinach and plums, sprinkled with crushed nuts. Snails in honey and garlic. Sansa had never eaten snails before; Joffrey showed her how to get the snail out of the shell, and fed her the first sweet morsel himself. Then came trout fresh from the river, baked in clay; her prince helped her crack open the hard casing to expose the flaky white flesh within." - George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, p. 290
With the appetizers complete and the drinks flowing, it's now time to invite your guests to sit around the great table and indulge in a selection of main courses. Inspired from Martin's writing in the book, we've thrown together recipe suggestions that include overnight beef stew, healthy portions of apple and leek salad, an aromatic Mediterranean spiced chicken, and sautéed fish in a dry sauce. For those who lean vegetarian, serve up these delicious saffron rice with winter vegetables, shepherd's pie and sautéed spinach and tomatoes dishes.
Of course, no Lannister feast would be complete without snails. A staple of the traditional diet in the African nation of Ghana, snails are increasingly appearing on menus and in grocery stores as a delicious and nutritious ingredient.
"Later came sweetbreads and pigeon pie and baked apples fragrant with cinnamon and lemon cakes frosted in sugar, but by then Sansa was so stuffed that she could not manage more than two little lemon cakes, as much as she loved them." - George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, p. 290
For the final and perhaps best course, we've thrown together a collection of desserts that would find the fork of even the pickiest of Lannister foodies. First and foremost is a recipe for lemon cakes, the most favorite sweet dish of Sansa Stark. As George R.R. Martin explains, there's a big reason she doesn't prefer chocolate instead.
"In the real world I might have gone for a chocolate something but in the Middle Ages they didn’t have chocolate so I had to rule that out right away," he told the Denver Post. "She lives in the North – what would be something she would get occasionally but not regularly? Lemon cakes! Because lemons don’t grow in the North. No lemons in Scotland. They would occasionally in the summers get fruit, lemons, that they would makes cakes out of, but it would not be an everyday thing. It would be special and exciting."
If you want to add a sweeter twist to Sansa's favorite treat, we're also big fans of this recipe for lemon meringue pie. Additional winning recipes fated to never become leftovers include apple cranberry crisp, honey cake and every single last piece of this strawberry rhubarb pie.
On second thought, just make two of everything. Your guests' tastebuds will grovel in gratitude.
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