Open Thread: Pig Heads & Sugar Skulls — Winter Dinner Is Coming

Eventually all fandoms collide. The Boston Phoenix brings news of what happens when the foodies meet the Game of Thrones:

There’s a pig head in the pot,” Sariann Lehrer says, almost apologetically. She’s in a green apron, hovering over the stove in the Allston duplex she shares with Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, four more roommates, and two cats.

Lehrer’s boiling the head for the Inn at the Crossroads (, the blog she writes with Monroe-Cassel about the food from the George R. R. Martin epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. (Its tagline: “In the Game of Food, you win or you wash the dishes.”) The pair started the blog last March and secured a book deal to write the official Game of Thrones cookbook shortly thereafter. Bantam will publish A Feast of Ice and Fire later this month with an introduction by the author himself.

Martin’s frequent feast scenes — lavish, exhaustive iterations of dishes and libations — can last for pages. So when Lehrer and Monroe-Cassel embarked on their project to cook their way through his series, they had ample source material. Right now, they’re 200 recipes in. Today’s menu: jellied eel, pork pudding, and sugar skulls…

Harder to master: acquiring the esoteric meats Martin’s characters eat in the fictional realm of Westeros. A few months ago, Lehrer and Monroe-Cassel dispatched a friend to buy pigeons from a New York fresh-kill poultry shop. Today’s offerings have fewer food miles: the pig head came from Savenor’s Market, the eel from a grocery store in Fitchburg.

And there are some recipes even they won’t — or can’t — attempt. The swan Cersei serves Tyrion in Lannisport is out — illegal. Unborn puppies in plum sauce is right out, and while olives stuffed with maggots is probably legal, it’s definitely gross. On the other hand, the roasted horse meat favored by the Dothraki horse people is illegal, too, but it appeals to Lehrer and Monroe-Cassell immensely…

Something tells me that John Cole, despite his enthusiasm for Game of Thrones, will not be using this cookbook for his next “all my drunk friends showed up unannounced” gathering. But if you’re interested in trying Aurochs with Roasted Leeks, or Tyroshi Honeyfingers, the cookbook is available for pre-order (see our Amazon link to the right).

26 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    trollhattan says:

    I dunno, if he can feed his frat bros ceviche, he might be able to roll out one or two of these.

    I haz a sad, the Tour of California is not coming through town this year and I don’t have time to chase after them across the state. Weather is cooperating this year, at least, unlike last year’s snow-outs.

  3. 3
    gastropoda says:

    Sorry the previous link leads to a gutted story. Not sure why. But of the four cookbooks I reviewed for that Newsweek piece, the official “Game of Thrones,” based on the blog, was the best. The recipes will get John Cole into the kitchen for sure.

  4. 4
    Mnemosyne says:

    I got an urge to actually make dinner tonight rather than subsist on frozen dinners like we usually do, so we had Johnsonville turkey cheddarwurst; tomato, cucumber, and onion salad; and corn on the cob. Plus a glass of moscato each.

  5. 5
    mclaren says:

    “Aurochs with leek” still sounds better than steak with coffee rub.

    What’s next week’s recipe, roast beef with peanut butter rub?

  6. 6
    Anne Laurie says:


    What’s next week’s recipe, roast beef with peanut butter rub?

    I love beef satay with peanut sauce! And I’ve been told groundnut stew traditionally features goat (or mutton), but I’m sure people have used beef where it’s cheaper…

  7. 7
    Keith says:

    Supposedly you can get horse meat in the US at the larger Asian markets, labeled as not for human consumption (for feeding pets, I guess). I haven’t verified this myself, but it’s one of those hard-to-get foods that I would really like to try (it is supposed to be quite delicious)

  8. 8
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I was talking to a guy in front of me in line. We clearly were not of the same ideology – I had to point out the actual probability of voter fraud, not the Fox news version – but we did come up with an interesting idea for representation in the House of Representatives: What if, for the purpose of dividing up the House members, we ignore state boundaries, and have each member represent the same number of people through the entire country? Thus, the Wyoming rep would also represent people from some of the surrounding states.

  9. 9
    Adolphus says:

    I once worked at a historic house that rented itself out for weddings and other parties and functions. It was an ugly monstrosity since the Gilded Age owner actually brought back pieces of European castles and just slammed them together. Given the overwhelming castle-ish appearance we got a lot of fantasy geeks who got married in medieval/Renaissance garb. (what a few hundred years more or less? ) A few would go for the whole turkey leg, trencher, roast boar meal. We also had a lot of vomiting and crying brides because no one is really prepared for what a roast whole pig looks like, especially the head with its eyelids sewn shut over eyeballs that have exploded.

    Most people are looking for the Disney-fied version of this kind of banquet. Not the real thing.

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    @Keith: If you can afford the plane ticket and accommodations, you could go to either France or Japan. Horsemeat is legal for human consumption in both countries. And both claim it as part of their cultural heritage. My family bailed out of France 500+ years ago, so I cannot verify this personally.

  11. 11
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Speaking of pig heads, wouldn’t Tucker Carlson’s head look great in a microwave oven?

    Just saying.

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus: Only if he was alive at the time. Gotta get that fresh flavour as quickly as possible.

  13. 13
    Citizen_X says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus: Pfft. You are not with the Game of Thrones spirit.

    Spitted on a pike above the city walls, that’s where it belongs.

  14. 14
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Yutsano: You can get horsemeat in Quebec, too. (I am shocked, SHOCKED that you didn’t mention this. I shall be sulking in the corner.)

    EDIT: OK, I forgot that you’re facing surgery this week. I retract the sulking. Be well!

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    @Comrade Mary: HA! No excuses. I don’t keep up much on the affairs of my homeland like I should. I leave that to my dad. He’s the one who wants to retire there. Armstrong BC is the current compromise position.

  16. 16
    aimai says:

    OMG I shop at Savernor’s–famous for being the place where, in the 70’s, you could buy a whole or half animal and keep it in the freezer there. Also famous for cheating Julia Childs and everyone else by putting the metaphoric thumb on the scale and short weighting everyone. Its not very exotic looking anymore but I did just buy some Pekin Duck breasts there.


  17. 17
    BethanyAnne says:

    Lol, my cat saw a moth in my room. She chased it out, but didn’t notice it flying away. So she’s spent the last half hour walking in and around the pile ‘o crap in front of one of my bookcases, chirping and yowling.

  18. 18
    Citizen_X says:

    Just read the article. Dothrakis play cricket? I am disillusioned.

    Maybe they do it Mesoamerican-basketball style, where the loser gets beheaded.

  19. 19
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    I’ve sometimes wondered about that. I think the Senate could benefit from it more (100 equally-sized districts). Since I’m a demography nerd I’ve occasionally tried to look at municipal-level census numbers and sketch a map, but I never manage to keep it accurate. One downside is that even wackier permutations of gerrymandering could happen.

  20. 20
    andy says:

    I dunno, what with pig heads and eels and whatnot, the book sounds like it would fit in nicely with the of nose-to-tail culinary subculture.

    There’s nothing here, as a matter of fact, that would look out of place on (for example) in Chris Cosentino’s Offal Good blog

  21. 21
    Origuy says:

    @trollhattan: I tried to put a post about the Tour of California in the last open thread. For some reason, it never showed up. Stage 3 starts three miles from my house. I think I’ll play hooky Tuesday morning to see them take off.

    It’s gotten to be a really big deal, one of the top races leading up to the Tour de France. Three of the top four riders will be in this year’s race.

  22. 22
    JGabriel says:

    Boston Phoenix:

    Martin’s frequent feast scenes — lavish, exhaustive iterations of dishes and libations — can last for pages.

    You know, I’ve read the books, and I don’t remember that.

    There’s usually one or two paragraphs of a menu or food description. The rest of the feast scenes are dedicated to conversations, politicking, drama, and, pretty often, violence.


  23. 23
    JGabriel says:


    … [horsemeat is] one of those hard-to-get foods that I would really like to try (it is supposed to be quite delicious).

    B-b-but, Flicka! How can you eat my friend Flicka?


  24. 24
    FFrank says:


    B-b-but, Flicka! How can you eat my friend Flicka?

    Don’t worry HBO has an abundance of Horse meat through their show “Luck.”

  25. 25
    p.a. says:

    I know a place that does a braised Balrog that’s to die for.

  26. 26
    twiffer says:

    this sort of thing strikes me as, well, odd. i am very much a fantasy fan and have thus far devoured ASOIAF (despite not actually ever watching game of thrones, go figure). hell, i used to read freakin dragonlance books in my misspent youth. i still haven’t started playing ME3 because i’ve been grooving on skyrim for months now. and so on.

    yet, i cannot fathom why one would want to pull the fantasy world into their waking one. to this extent, at least. it’s different than being absorbed and overly knowledgeable of a fictional universe. i can happily read the appendices of the silmarillion, yet this seems a step too far. too much overlap.

    then again, there is a tolkien-inspired pipe tobacco that i enjoy, so maybe it’s just more that i’ve never found fantasy-inspired food to be particularly appetizing.

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