Serving men ladeled out bowls of blandissory, a mixture of beef broth and boiled wine sweetened with honey and dotted with blanched almonds and chunks of capon. Then came strolling pipers and clever dogs and sword swallowers, with buttered pease, chopped nuts, and slivers of swan poached in a sauce of saffron and peaches.” A Storm of Swords, p. 821
Game of Thrones, based on the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, has been described as ‘food porn’ by some. Martin has a knack for describing meals in the most sensual way possible. With over 160 vivid food descriptions in his novels, this is a man who knows his cuisine.
What Does The Food Tell Us?
The food is a big part of the narrative of Game of Thrones, generally giving an indication of who the characters are and where they come from. Wealthy merchants and lords can afford extravagant foods and wines, as well as spices and ingredients imported from faraway places. In a few of the major cities of Seven Kingdoms, such as King’s Landing, the population is poor and cannot afford to buy outlandish items or imported products. The poorest of the poor of Flea Bottom in King’s Landing may be lucky to have enough bread to not starve. A staple of their diet also consists of the infamous “bowls o’ brown” which is a cheap stew that is cooked slowly, though the ingredients are not always identifiable.
The economy of Seven Kingdoms is based on producing and maintaining crops and farmland in an effort to meet the basic food needs of the population. The climate is very different throughout the region which affects the food that is produced. The seasons are also different to how we know them today and can last for a few years each. The North has a very cold climate and the winters can be extremely harsh. Not many fruits and vegetables grow there and famine and starvation is common during the winters. In the south, you will find Dorne which has one of the hottest climates. The rivers in this region keep the land fertile. Dorne provides different exotic produce that is not available elsewhere in Seven Kingdoms, such as citrus fruits, olives, and pomegranates. The lemons for Sansa Stark’s favorite lemon cakes come from here. Dorne is also well-known for its spicy dragon peppers.
Delicious Food Can Be Healthy Food
There are many lessons to be learned from Game of Thrones about healthy eating. All the food is described as delicious in the series. You will get the most wonderful descriptions which will make your mouth water and make you almost taste the food. Rich stews with barley, carrots, and turnips, juicy fruits, hearty warm breads, flakey white fish - it all sounds delicious!
Now, most people would not actually think this food is healthy because it all sounds so good and we associate healthy food with boring and tasteless. But the truth is, the food seen in Game of Thrones and the diet that Seven Kingdoms provides are basic whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, grains, meat, fish, poultry, herbs and spices - these are all healthy and nutritious. There are no industrially processed foods like there are today. There are lower amounts of sugar, the fruits are seasonal, and the different types of meat are most likely free range and grass-fed. As hunting is a popular pastime in Game of Thrones, a lot of the meat eaten is most likely wild game.
The meals in Game of Thrones take time and effort, which is what makes it look so delicious. You are not going to simply pull it out of a box and warm it in the microwave, you have to actually plan your meal, acquire the ingredients, and then cook the meal. Of course, you won’t have a seven course meal like a banquet in Game of Thrones every night of the week, but you can easily roast a chicken or make a stew any day - you just need a little forethought and planning to ensure that you have the right ingredients.
Of course, Game of Thrones is pure fantasy. We all live in the real world where we don't have endless time to spend our days hunting, preparing, eating and of course fornicating - which seems to be a favourite pastime in Seven Kingdoms. However, healthy food is essential for our body to function effectively and productively throughout the day. So we may not need to ‘hunt’ and ‘gather’ in the same way we once did but we do need to ensure that the food we put into our body, is healthy, nutritious and serves the purpose that we need it to - to get us through our crazy days that we call life.
Take some time to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, consume nutritional health supplements if needed, sleep well and of course, stop and relax occasionally, after all we are not machines and we need to treat our body with respect and love to get the most from it. In our busy lives we often forget basic human needs such as good healthy food that is the fuel for which our bodies rely upon. Don't be afraid to make your kitchen a place where fiction meets good food and cook yourself a feast fit for a King or Queen - who knows where it could lead!
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