“World building is part of what gives epic fantasy its appeal, and food is part of that.
You can learn a lot about a world and culture from what they eat…”
– George R. R. Martin, foreword to A Feast of Ice and Fire
“…one defining quality of these books is George R. R. Martin’s incredible attention to detail. He paints intimate portraits of his characters, embroidered with poignant descriptions of the landscapes they inhabit, the clothes they wear, and – our primary concern for this project – the foods they eat. It is a rare Martin reader who has never felt a pang of desire at the descriptions of dishes that are familiar enough to make the mouth water and exotic enough to stimulate the imagination.
Having often felt the stirring hunger as we read, we were eager to try our hands at turning fiction into edible reality. It only took a few meals before we realized that we were really on to something. We launched our food blog, Inn at the Crossroads, shortly after and were delighted at how quickly it attracted an enthusiastic fan base. Just a few months after launching the blog, we were given the incredible opportunity to create this cookbook..”’
I'm not a big “food” guy – my wife does most of the cooking in our house – but, as a longtime genre fiction book reviewer, I am always intrigued when a fantasy or science fiction–inspired cookbook hits the shelves. But it has seemed to me that most of these cookbooks are more often than not marketed as novelty gift books or gag gifts, like Wookiee Cookies, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, Love At First Bite: The Unofficial Twilight Cookbook, etc.
But A Feast of Ice and Fire… this cookbook is no joke and obviously written by hardcore überfans of GRRM’s series. The cuisine – and their recipes – are broken down by region: The Wall, The North, The Vale, The Riverlands, King’s Landing, etc. There are more than 100 recipes in this meticulously researched book – which features full-color pictures of dozens of visually stunning dishes (examples below) – and what really impressed me was that most of the recipes are accompanied by an excerpt from the novel in which it appeared. Here are a few examples:
• Iced Milk with Honey:
“Would you care for some refreshments? some dates, perhaps? I have some very fine persimmons as well. Wine no longer agrees with my digestion, I fear, but I can offer you a cup of ice milk, sweetened with honey. I find it most refreshing in this heat.” – A Game of Thrones
“Such food Bran had never seen; course after course after course, so much that he could not manage more than a bite or two of each dish. There were great joints of aurochs roasted with leeks, venison pies…” – A Clash of Kings
• Roasted Boar:
“Sansa,” Lady Alerie broke in, “you must be very hungry. Shall we have a bite of boar together, an some lemon cakes?” – A Storm of Swords
• Lemon Cakes:
“Later came sweetbread 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.” – A Game of Thrones
A Feast of Ice and Fire is a lovingly produced and visually stunning cookbook, one that will more than impress anyone who calls themselves a fan of GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I was so impressed with this book that I showed it to my wife (who is a fan of the HBO series) a few days ago – and guess what we just had for dinner tonight? Honey Chicken, Black Bread, and Medieval Applecakes!
Bottom line: Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire – and cooking aficionados alike – will find this cookbook to be, like GRRM’s saga, simply breathtaking.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.