January 4, 2011

The Perfect Fantasy Novel Meal

You're on an epic quest or maybe just a journey to the closest big city.  You've fought orcs or direwolves, and you're bone weary.  You've slogged through rain and mud or dragged yourself through unbearably hot weather.  You round a corner on a well trodden King's Road, and finally.  You see the dim glow of village lights.  They are far away, hard to see - as if the lights are covered by wax paper, but they are there.  You can't wait to find the local inn.  You might know it, you might not.  Either way, you have an idea of what the fare will be: crusty bread, cheese, a meat stew or skewer, and a mug of mulled cider, wine, or ale.  Coffee and tea might be options too along with some fruit for dessert.

These staples are the standard in so many fantasy novels and series - Lord of Rings, Song of Ice and Fire, Wheel of Time, and on and on.  Occasionally it might be changed up with dishes native to the town.  If the village is by the sea, maybe you can get a fish stew or spiced fish eggs.  It's all usually simple food, but it's hearty.  It covers the primary food groups in our world and worlds like ours.  It is food that will sustain you and keep you going on your journey.  Most of it is easy to stow away in your pack too.  And the smell, oh the smell!  Few things are as mouthwatering as the aroma of freshly baked bread.  And also?  A big hunk of bread and bowl of stew is tasty.  I find it even more delicious after I spent the day walking in the cold outdoors. 

Since these eats are simple, it is easy to replicate and have your own fantasy novel dinner party.  You get bonus points if you have a fireplace and extra gold stars if you pull your dining room table over to eat in front of it.  If it were my party, I would pull out the renaissance costumes for everybody.*  Just sayin'.  Here's a sample menu:

Loaf of sourdough or other crusty bread - homemade or purchased from the local market
Cheeseboard - offer a few varieties of cheese and cut it in nice, thick slices
Beef, vension, or lamb stew - I particularly love this Hunter Stew with Dumplings recipe from Castles & Cooks and bread bowls are definitely an option
Roasted potatoes with butter

Sliced apples

Mulled cider or wine
Coffee, maybe modeled on one of these coffees from fantasy novels

No plasticware and no napkins (unless the guests are borrowing your renaissance faire outfits, you don't want them to wipe greasy fingers on your chemise).  Serve beverages in ceramic or pewter mugs.  You could go the Medieval Times route and ban all utensils, but forks really do serve a sound purpose.  Kicking back with pipe-weed after dinner is highly encouraged.
Eat hearty!
*Yeah, I really do things like that.


  1. I could eat this food WHILE I read--in fact, when I was little, I used to make bacon and biscuits and ginger water and I would put it in a picnic basket and eat it while I read Little House books. I spent a lot of time alone as a child...

  2. Looks delicious!! Makes me want to watch LOTR.

  3. Mmmm, warm bread and cheese. This is a great idea! Even if you don't have a fireplace, just be sure to light the table with candles, with the electric lights turned down or off.

    Did you ever read the Redwall books? They always had the most delicious-sounding feasts. If I could mimic those recipes, it would be the perfect geek dinner party. The problem would be finding enough people who had read those books and could appreciate it.

  4. Holy crap, I'm starving now! Thanks for the ideas. :)

  5. You described how many of my meals used to be. I miss my time as a baker. Meals of nothing but bread and cheese with a bottle of wine.

  6. This makes me happy. And hungry. :o)

  7. a couple of weeks ago, I thought that bread and cheese would hit the spot. I didn't get around to it but I think I will try it on a hike this summer.

  8. I've actually done this. Minus costumes, but with your basic fantasy or late-medieval style meal. When I developed my game world, I wanted to give it more cultural depth, even if it rarely figured into gameplay. So I came up with crops, herbs and cultural cues and combined them to create regional cooking styles. You prompt me to revisit and recreate a (probably vastly improved) version, with variations for each race.

    Eleni: I'm in! I always loved the Redwall feast descriptions, and have thought about recreating at least one of them.

  9. yummmmmm. you do always come across someone embarking on a quest w/ a chuck of bacon, crust of bread and the clothes on their back. it sounds effin' AWESOME.

    i sooooo wanna have a meal like this :D and i'm totally gonna try this hunter's stew!


  10. Katie - That is wonderful. Not the alone part, but the other part. ;)

    Eleni - No, but now I'm tempted to read them at least to skim the feasts.

    NakedHobo - That sounds like a perfect meal.

    Peregrine John - That is positively wonderful. I love when GMs include so much background.

    One day soon I will definitely throw a dinner party with the above menu!

  11. Holy crap, now I want to do this. I'm definitely thinking how to arrange this for the weekly D&D session.

    Eleni: Totally in on the Redwall feasts. Their food sounds amazing!

    Peregrine John: How do I go about joining your group? Sounds utterly amazing!

  12. AsylumPlagueRat - Oh, this is perfect to accompany a D&D game!

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