A quick note on history and food in ASOIAF

As I mentioned before, I have been doing a lot of experimenting with medieval recipes in recent years.  And this includes trying many of the delicious-sounding foods from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.  Thanks to the diligent work of Chelsea and Sariann, we ASOIAF fans have a fantastic resource to explore our foodie sides.  Everything I have made from their website and their book has been delicious, so seriously, try making some of their recipes.

Recently, I noticed something about George’s books that I had not noticed before: an utter lack of potatoes, Irish or sweet.  Now, at first glance this would seem to make sense, because they are both “New World” foods that would have been unknown to medieval Europe, which is the historical basis of much of Martin’s writing.  Potatoes would not be introduced to Europe until the 16th century, when the Spanish brought them over.  So no potatoes in Westeros, right?  Makes sense, right?

Yes, it would… except that there are plenty of examples of other New World foods that are present in Westeros.   So why include them but not potatoes?

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Winter is Coming

It may not be a winter that lasts for years, as it has been known to do in Westeros, but this winter has come a little early here in Boston this week, with temperatures not getting out of the 40s during the day and dropping into the 20s at night.  We had to turn on the heat for the first time in a good while.  And of course all the animals start getting a bit more cuddly at night, except for Rerun, who wants to be on the bed but otherwise gets a little grumpy if you invade his space.

Hopefully we will get back into the habit of more regular posts now, at least that is my intent.  I think I will try to talk a bit more about some of the more interesting cooking I am doing this season.


More things you should be reading right now

Geoff and I have been dealing with a pile of bureaucratic red tape so high that 1) we’re tired and 2) I know now how to spell bureaucratic without looking it up or using spell check.  So, in lieu of real content I present you with More things you should be reading right now.  All links are, as always, SFW.

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Cooking is too much fun.

Boiled Beef (with vegetables) with a loaf of medieval-style bread as a trencher.

I have been cooking historical recipes for many years, mostly stuff from 18th and 19th century America.  I like cooking anyway, and as a historian I find that sort of thing interesting on several levels.  More recently I have been trying to make medieval recipes, and so for the last few years I have started picking up some medieval cookbooks and reading some stuff online about it.  It seems a lot more difficult, I think.  And although I have managed to successfully make a few things  (this spinach tart turned out really well, I think), I have just not found a lot of medieval recipes that really made me want to try them.

Until a few weeks ago, when Kelly got me A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook.

Continue reading “Cooking is too much fun.”

Hopefully, things will settle down a bit now

Needless to say, I am thrilled that they found the two suspects and that one of them (apparently the younger brother) has been taken alive, which will hopefully give the investigators the chance to get all the details they need.  I sure hope so.  It will be nice to have a nice, calm week to settle down to a regular routine again.  Admittedly, after this past week, I almost wouldn’t be surprised to have Godzilla march down Commonwealth Avenue.  If that happens, I guarantee that I will not be one of the people who waits to get stepped on.

So yeah, tomorrow I am going to try to do some housecleaning, put up our new HDTV antenna, and do some good Portuguese home cooking.  Maybe I can get a decent night’s sleep tonight too.

Sleep tight, Boston.  Sweet dreams.


Family dinner outing

Yesterday we had a bit of a family get-together, probably the first one Kelly and I have attended since Christmas.  My parent flew into town and they will be in New England for over two weeks.  So a large group of us went out to dinner at this place called The Chateau in Andover.

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Abnormal weather yet again

So far today we have tied the record for the warmest March 8.  I am wearing shorts today.  In some ways I don’t mind, after all it’s a nice day outside.  But I am concerned about the general weather trends, and the predictions that spring this year is going to be warmer than normal for us.  In light of the fact that we had so little snow this year, and thus there is not much snowpack to melt this spring, a warmer spring could spell trouble for gardeners and farmers.  We could have droughts to worry about.  And it could mean increased risk of fires.

ETA: We broke the record after all.   The old record for March 8th was 67 and it reached 68 degrees.  Records have been kept since 1872.  Right now here in Cambridge it is 66 degrees, with the wind clocking in at 20 mph from the south south-east.

I was hoping to plant some herbs this spring, if I can manage it.  I do have a love for things that grow.  Just like hobbits.  Fresh herbs are so nice for cooking.  Maybe I will try making some flavored vinegars or olive oils.