Fans of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” must be feeling bereft. And why shouldn’t they? The curtain finally fell on the last episode of that long-running megahit. Unless they love reruns, that’s it for those fans.
I, on the other hand, have barely made it through the first episode so far, “Winter is Coming”. But now I’m looking forward to the many others.
So, without knowing much about the series, how it is possible that I wrote a book essentially geared to Game of Thrones fans? The answer is this: the reality to be found in European history. And in the many digitized historic culinary manuscripts and printed cookbooks.
As would be expected, “Game of Thrones” generated an interest in food, eating, and cooking. That led to such cookbooks as A Feast of Ice & Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook, by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer. A Feast contains over one hundred well-written recipes and scores of delicious-looking photographs.
Speaking of those recipes, many — forty-three to be exact — originated in historic European culinary manuscripts and cookbooks. Most stem from the English culinary heritage. But five recipes come from the ancient Roman compilation of Apicius and three showcase the legendary French influence on European cuisine. There’s even one German offering, from Ein Buch von Guter Spise (1350).
All told, A Feast of Ice & Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook relies on recipes from seventeen historic cookbooks, all but one of which is available in digital form on the internet.* The recipes recreated are but a small sampling of what can be cooked and served. Check out “Online Cookbooks” for examples of the wealth available; it’s an extensive list that leads to many different sites.
Literally hundreds of digitized historic cookbooks await the cook who wants to try more dishes and different recipes.
But, like most cookbooks with recreated (or “redacted”) recipes, A Feast of Ice & Fire does not include details on how to decipher and recreate those recipes.
But now there is a book that does.
“A Hastiness of Cooks”: A Practical Handbook for Use in Deciphering the Mysteries of Historic Recipes and Cookbooks, For Living-History Reenactors, Historians, Writers, Chefs, Archaeologists, and, of Course, Cooks takes readers through the process of recreating historic recipes for the modern table. In other words, it offers a key to the kitchens of the past.
This book emphasizes the necessary steps in:
• Analyzing the subtext of historical cookbooks, regardless of their culinary patrimony and time period
• Deciphering archaic language, such as Old English
• Choosing the correct equipment and ingredients
• Cooking with a wood fire on a hearth or three stones on the ground
• Researching historical accuracy with various print and online resources
And much more.
“A Hastiness of Cooks” is not just for chefs and cooks. Living-history interpreters, battle reenactors, writers of fiction and nonfiction, historical archaeologists, historians, artists, and just about anyone interested in how people cooked and ate in the past will find much meat (and vegetable) in this concise handbook.
“Game of Thrones” might have come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that the feasting can’t go on!
Titles of cookbooks cited in Game of Thrones cookbook, A Feast of Ice & Fire. (Titles as given in the book. Numbers in parentheses refer to the number of recipes from that source.)
The Art of Cookery Refin’d and Augmented (Joseph Cooper, 1654) (1)
The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened (1669) (1)
The Compleat Cook (1671) (1)
Le Confiturier François (17th century, maybe 1660) (1)**
Le Cuisinier Francois (La Varenne, 1651) (1)
Cury on Inglysch (14th century) (1)
Ein Buch von Guter Spise (1350) (1)
Lucayos Cookbook (1690) (1)
Le Menagier de Paris (1393) (1)
A Noble Boke Off Cookry (16th century) (2)
Platina (1517) (1)
A Proper Newe Booke of Cookery (1545) (3)
Le Viandier (2)
What to Eat, and How to Cook It (1863) (2)
*Cury on Inglysch (14th century), available in print as Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century (including the Forme of Cury), edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
**Given incorrectly in A Feast of Ice & Fire as Le Confiturier Français