HOG HEAVEN Sariann Lehrer and Chelsea Monroe-Cassel have tranformed their Game of Thrones
obsession into a blog and, now, a GoT-themed cookbook.
"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 (innatthecrossroads.com), 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.
Over the past year, the women have developed a clear division of labor. Lehrer, 25, studied animal science. "I cook the weird shit," she says.
Monroe-Cassel, 27, studied classic history. She handles a lot of the research into period cooking methods. The pair has amassed an impressive collection of relevant cookbooks, now filling an entire bookcase in their kitchen. She is especially pleased with her recent acquisition of the 1655 English tome The Compleat Cook and a Queens Delight, an assortment of recipes and Stuart-era kitchen advice. (Sample tip: "Tye a piece of very salt Bacon on the inside of your barrel, so as it tough not the Wine, which will preserve Wine from sowring.")
But research only goes so far. "A lot of historical recipes just say, 'Cook the meat,'" Monroe-Cassel says. "We have to be very intuitive in the kitchen."
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.
"I grew up on a horse farm and I don't think it's gross," Lehrer says matter-of-factly.
Plus they have a special affection for the Dothraki. Recently the women befriended, via Twitter, the fellow who invented the Dothraki language for the HBO series Game of Thrones. He even coined a Dothraki word for "cricket" in their honor. He called it "chelseann."