Tag Archives: gluten-free Game of Thrones food

Game of Thrones Gluten-Freeview (Season 3, Episode 5)

Remember when I expounded at length on how easy it would be to be gluten-free in the Game of Thrones universe? I was biting my tongue when I watched this week’s episode. (Mild spoiler alert.)

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In a scene that is one of my favorites so far this season, Olenna Tyrell, Queen of Thorns and grandmother of Margaery Tyrell (the queen-to-be), visits Tyrion Lannister at his invitation to discuss “financial matters.”

Olenna lets him know right away she’s displeased: “I climbed all those stairs to discuss ‘financial matters’?” Then she demands figs and explains, “I always take figs mid-afternoon. They help move the bowels.”

Tyrion takes this in stride. I was the only one in my group of friends who found it hilarious. Hm, odd.

Next, Tyrion calls Olenna out for her extravagance in planning the royal wedding during wartime. In response, she ticks off the list of supplies the Tyrells have given to aid the war effort:

What is it, 12,000 infantrymen the Tyrell family has supplied, 1,800 mounted lancers, 2,000 in support, provisions so the city might survive the winter: a million bushels of wheat, half a million bushels each of barley, oats, and rye, 20,000 head of cattle, 50,000 sheep?

It’s a great scene, solidly written, subtly acted, featuring two of my favorite characters on the show. But all I could think was, “Man, I hope everyone in King’s Landing can tolerate gluten.”

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Epic fail, from Dorne

I know you’ve been dying to know what we made for our Game of Thrones viewing party! We slaved away creating a “Dornish” feast, where “Dornish” really means “vaguely Mediterranean”—or “incredibly annoying,” depending on which of my friends you ask. It’s true, I may have overdone it a bit on significantly intoning “from Dorne” after every recipe name. Also, at least one person pointed out that the TV show hadn’t yet introduced Dorne, so I only knew about its cuisine or even its existence from the Google Books preview of the cookbook. Fine, fine, I’m a total poser. From Dorne.

We had:

– leek, garlic, and chickpea flour flatbread from Dorne
– chickpea paste (hummus) also from Dorne
– goat-cheese-stuffed dates with honey from Dorne
– fiery white-bean-stuffed jalapeño peppers from Dorne
– candied orange and grapefruit slices from Dorne (no, this isn’t annoying at all)
– chocolate Easter dragon’s eggs from Hershey

And, finally, we would have had those gluten-free hot cross buns. I pieced the recipe together from a couple different sources, and they were coming along really well until I left them to rise in a “warm place,” meaning an oven that I turned to low heat and then forgot to turn off before going out to shop for other ingredients. The buns “proofed” at 250 degrees for about an hour. They did rise rather nicely. Unfortunately they also had plastic wrap baked into them.

Since I couldn’t be sure I’d removed all of the plastic, and carcinogens can’t really be picked out with one’s fingers anyway, I of course threw out the buns. I’d have taken a photo first, but I was a bit preoccupied with having a full-scale kitchen meltdown, complete with door-slamming, tears, sinking to the floor, and wailing about how stupid I am. This was among my most disastrous cooking errors yet, and what’s worse, I can’t even blame it on the gluten-free baking learning curve. There is no one and nothing to blame but me and my bad, bad memory (unless it was, uh, brain fog).

Nevertheless, I’ve forgiven myself and moved on. Mostly. I’m still not ready to talk about how much all the wasted gluten-free ingredients cost.

What was your worst-ever cooking error or baking flop? Can you chalk it up to a new cooking style or do you only have yourself to blame? How do you respond to kitchen disappointments?

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A feast fit for a gluten-free, vegetarian king (of the North)?

Jon-Snow-S3The other day, I tweeted “What #GameofThrones-themed snacks can I make that are #glutenfree and #vegetarian?”

No one replied.

Maybe that’s because my (many and adoring) Twitter followers don’t watch Game of Thrones. (What percentage of people following a gluten-free diet also follow Game of Thrones? A statistic worth investigating.) Maybe my question got lost in the evening Twitter rush. Or maybe people didn’t think it could be done.

Game of Thrones food is roughly based on medieval European cuisine. For most people, this calls to mind crusty loaves and legs of mutton—oh, and don’t forget the ale. Gluten-free vegetarian medieval food sounds almost oxymoronical. Throw in “Easter” as an additional theme and you’ve got yourself an impossibility, right?

Not exactly. Medieval cuisine might be linked in the modern imagination with meat and bread, but especially in tough times and among the lower classes, they weren’t as ubiquitous as we think.

Photo © Jakob van Santen | Flickr

Photo © Jakob van Santen | Flickr

Let’s start with meat. It wasn’t until the Black Death killed off most of Europe that meat became more available to commoners, because the shrunken labor force drove up wages and swathes of abandoned land became available for pasturing livestock. But in George R. R. Martin’s universe, so far as I can tell, there hasn’t been a plague precisely like the Black Death. The closest thing to it was the grey plague, a scourge that was successfully quarantined to a single city and therefore didn’t have as vast of an effect as the real-life plague. This suggests that at the time of telling, the majority of poorer people would have eaten mainly plant foods, not meat.

So medieval!

So medieval!

And gluten? Though grains made up much of the medieval diet, wheat was actually rather expensive. Barley, rye, buckwheat, millet, and oats were the most common choices (a couple of which are, as you know, gluten-free!). Plus, particularly after a lean harvest, it would have been common to use nut, pea, or bean flours along with grain flours to create bread. From there, it doesn’t require too much of a leap to get to the gluten-free flour blends of today. (Legumes, by the way, were not considered good for you, contrary to prevailing nutrition opinion today, which designates many former “peasant” foods as staples of a healthful diet.) Finally, although beer was a popular choice in this age of unfiltered water, wine was common, too, and that’s naturally gluten-free. (Plus vegetarian, as long as you choose a kind that wasn’t made using fish bladder…ew.)

A-Feast-of-Ice-Fire-Official-Game-of-Thrones-CookbookLike the medieval culture on which it is loosely based, the cuisine of Westeros does include gluten-free and plant-based options—enough, certainly, for a solid viewing party spread. Flipping through the contents of both the official and unofficial Game of Thrones cookbooks turns up lots of ideas: dried beans and nuts at the Wall, root cellar apples and veggies in the North, honeycomb from the Vale, leeks and greens from the lush Riverlands, stunning fruit desserts in the Reach, citrus and fiery spices in Dorne, and all of them coming together in the melting pot that is King’s Landing. I think I’ll pass on the fried locusts from across the Narrow Sea.

ed95_unofficial_game_of_thrones_cookbookWhat will I be making this Sunday? I’m not hosting the party, so I’ve got some conferring to do with the friend in charge. But I’ve put on my thinking cap (a warm one, since, you know, winter is coming). “Doran’s Favorite Chickpea Paste” sounds an awful lot like hummus, a classic GF-veg staple, and stuffed peppers and dates would please any palate, fantasy or modern-day. Throw in a cheese plate and some GF flatbread and you’ve pretty much got yourself a party. Oh, except for dessert. We’re considering hot-cross buns, which are vaguely medieval and perfect for Easter. There are some great GF recipes out there, and my new kitchen scale is just dying to pledge fealty to a proprietary GF blend. I am also tempted to try these hilarious (spoiler alert!) cake pops, but I’ll probably be too lazy.

Stay tuned and I’ll update you on the final menu sometime next week. In the meantime, know that you can be meat- and gluten-free in Westeros without being options-free. You just…might need to be a peasant. 

For this post, I sourced my medieval food facts from Wikipedia (which in turn sourced its info largely from Melitta Weiss Adamson’s Food in the Middle Ages, Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, and Food in Medieval Times). Though to give credit where credit’s really due, I’m pretty sure I heard most of it from my dad first (he blogs about food here). I pulled ideas for Sunday’s menu from the two books I linked to above and also wanted to call out the blog that spawned the official cookbook, Inn at the Crossroads, a must-read for fans of Game of Thrones and sustenance. Finally, I feel compelled here to admit that I have not read the books; I just watch the show. This runs contrary to all my media consumption principles, but those books are thick, and I keep pretty busy writing about gluten.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Any favorite foods from the series? Any other shows you’re excited for this season? Do you enjoy viewing parties and cooking themed menus, or do you consider your food restrictions theme enough? Alternatively, what have you got going on for Easter this weekend?

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