Waters Gate

The food of the Asoiaf world, and the lack of potato

41 posts in this topic

Atleast i do think there is a lack of potato, havn't seen mention before of potato, but then again thats fairly logical.

What is this thread about? Well my initial intention was something along the lines of "mapping the world trough food". Because not all kinds of food were to be found everywhere in medeival times. The potato is a product of South America and historicly only arrived in europe after the age of exploration. It had to come from America. So did many other stuff, like corn afaik.

The thing is, people in Westeros have all kind of food, but not everything i guess. We do not tend to take much notice of the food they eat and where it would have originated from in the world, perhaps it would be interresting to kno what they lack. I do not think ive seen any mention before of:

Rice, Cacao, potato's, corn, tobacco, coconuts, and probably a lot more

While they do have stuff like:

Silk, and various spices like cloves and Saffron, and obvious local stuff like grain and say lemons

 

Especially the cloves are rater exotic. In our world they are native to the Mollukes, part of the Oceanic island group and the historical "spice islands". They were traded though in medieval times already.

 

I guess it would be a bit of a hassle to make a complete list of everythig they have and what they lack. it would be more interresting to know when things seem out of place. In principle since Westeros has the kind of food that you'd likely find on our world in Western europe, you'd think that the other foodstuffs like potato exist too but just havn't been found yet, by noone on the map in fact because otehrwise the potato would surely have spread. (it's that good) So that would suggest that there is likely another undescovered continent, but frankly given how few we know of the world that notion probably won't come as much of a surprize. Any know existance however of any foodstuff that is one that traditionally would have been native to the America's (like afaik tobacco, cacao, maize, corn, potato, sugarreed) would be note worthy though.

 

Edit: doing some research, there already is a list of all the food mentione din the series here: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Food

If anyone finds something in there out of place feel free to mention.

 

 

Edited by Waters Gate

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Isn't there tobacco in the story? I always assumed the sourleaf that turns Mashable Heddle's teeth red was a form of tobacco. 

Perhaps potatoes and maize can be found Where Whores Go. 

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The TV series has potatoes though. In season 4, we get to see Olly looking forward to eat hot potatoes for supper. 

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2 hours ago, Shireen Purratheon said:

Isn't there tobacco in the story? I always assumed the sourleaf that turns Mashable Heddle's teeth red was a form of tobacco. 

Perhaps potatoes and maize can be found Where Whores Go. 

Could be correct about the tobacco, atleast the substance is likely somethign addictive.

 

12 minutes ago, Falcon2908 said:

The TV series has potatoes though. In season 4, we get to see Olly looking forward to eat hot potatoes for supper. 

Hah nice catch. Perhaps the show guys didn't think that one trough.

If youre going to have potatoes, you gona have a lot of potatoes. Potatoes were a revolution when they came to Europe, because the yield in food from potatoes on a given piece of land will be like 4 times that of the yield of grain.

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Isn't there corn? A Search of Ice and Fire yields 64 results for corn, one of those from Bran II:

"Bran did his best, although he did not think he ever really fooled her. Since his father would not forbid it, she turned to others. Old Nan told him a story about a bad little boy who climbed too high and was struck down by lightning, and how afterward the crows came to peck out his eyes. Bran was not impressed. There were crows' nests atop the broken tower, where no one ever went but him, and sometimes he filled his pockets with corn before he climbed up there and the crows ate it right out of his hand. None of them had ever shown the slightest bit of interest in pecking out his eyes."

Or can corn mean something else? If there's no potatoes, shouldn't there be no corn either?

By the way, are you from Zurich?

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1st book mentions a turkey in the woods near Winterfell, setup to the scene where Theon saves Bran from wildlings with archery.

 

Some areas also seem to have hot peppers, also a New World food.  The hottest things in the actual medieval cooking were "long pepper" and various mustard seeds.

 

Yes, corn is mentioned --just ask Mormont's raven! :)

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On 29.5.2016 at 5:59 AM, Shireen Purratheon said:

Isn't there tobacco in the story? I always assumed the sourleaf that turns Mashable Heddle's teeth red was a form of tobacco. 

Nope. It's a plant native to the Mediterranean, chewing it was quite common in Medieval Europe and the Middle East.

 

1 hour ago, Criston of House Shapper said:

Isn't there corn? A Search of Ice and Fire yields 64 results for corn, one of those from Bran II:

"Bran did his best, although he did not think he ever really fooled her. Since his father would not forbid it, she turned to others. Old Nan told him a story about a bad little boy who climbed too high and was struck down by lightning, and how afterward the crows came to peck out his eyes. Bran was not impressed. There were crows' nests atop the broken tower, where no one ever went but him, and sometimes he filled his pockets with corn before he climbed up there and the crows ate it right out of his hand. None of them had ever shown the slightest bit of interest in pecking out his eyes."

Or can corn mean something else? If there's no potatoes, shouldn't there be no corn either?

By the way, are you from Zurich?

Mistranslation. While modern US English basically uses corn exclusively for maize, it's originally the term for all kinds of grain, especially referring the kernels. So, wheat kernels? Or rye kernels?

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7 minutes ago, Bright Blue Eyes said:

Nope. It's a plant native to the Mediterranean, chewing it was quite common in Medieval Europe and the Middle East?

Not sure if some variant of the tobacco plant existed in the Old Wold, but I think its use as a drug only started in Europe after the discovery of America.

The leaves people in Essos chew could be betel or qat.

 

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Betel is the one with the red-stained teeth.

Thanks, I was momentarily missing the actual word.

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The list of fruit in the Wiki is notably missing peaches. Peaches are often associated with death since characters who eat them often die soon after (Renley is one example). Therefore, peaches may act as an important symbol that presages death, or perhaps the death of summer. The imagery of a "winter peach" is often used as well. 

 

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On June 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM, Criston of House Shapper said:

Isn't there corn?

The English word "corn" existed before they knew about maize.  It referred to any grain.  Wheat, rye, barley, ...  You have heard of "barley-corn" perhaps?  The *Oxford English Dictionary* says that in England, "corn" is still used in the sense of any grain.

 

Now, since GRRM is American, may we assume he meant the word "corn" in the American sense, i.e. maize? 

Edited by Maester Egg
delete error

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4 hours ago, Maester Egg said:

Now, since GRRM is American, may we assume he meant the word "corn" in the American sense, i.e. maize?  (This may be related to my previous thread from a while back.  The "elk" in the book meaning a wapati, not a moose.)

Unlikely. GRRM places his words very carefully and (among others purposes) creates a deliberately archaic dialect, well-suited to a pseudo 15th-century.

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It's got to be maize - 

Quote

They passed more fields, wheat and corn and barley ripening in the sun...

CLASH / ARYA IV

and there's this -

Quote

They roasted the sweetcorn in the husk that night, turning the ears with long forked sticks, and ate it hot right off the cob.

CLASH / ARYA III

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In a world that may have dinosaurs roaming about still, I would think that corn growing in  their version of "europe" is not that strange. 

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On May 28, 2016 at 11:06 PM, Falcon2908 said:

The TV series has potatoes though. In season 4, we get to see Olly looking forward to eat hot potatoes for supper. 

That's right...I've only heard of it north of the wall on the TV series though. Right before the mutiny begins, during the cremation of their fallen brother. One of the mutineers says that Craster will be feasting on meat and potatoes once we leave. 

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On 29/05/2016 at 7:06 AM, Falcon2908 said:

The TV series has potatoes though. In season 4, we get to see Olly looking forward to eat hot potatoes for supper. 

It's mentioned in the Telltale game too, where Cotter says he got sent to the Wall for "fucking potatoes".... which leads to a rather hillarious miunderstanding.

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On 20/06/2016 at 7:56 PM, Bright Blue Eyes said:

Unlikely. GRRM places his words very carefully and (among others purposes) creates a deliberately archaic dialect, well-suited to a pseudo 15th-century.

Hrmmmm....... Personally I find the Americanisms littered throughout speech and prose to be very grating.

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Remember Westeros is not Medieval Europe, it has the foods that GRRM chooses to place there so yes, there are turkeys and Maize type corn.  Hot peppers in Dorne seem to be a staple, Areo Hotah comments on how spicy Dornish food is.

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Westeros is, geographically, a mixture of Europe and the Americas. There are swamps and bogs in Westeros (complete with alligators/crocodiles) which obviously are not found in Europe. There's also Dorne, which is similar to the Southwestern U.S. and parts of North Africa. There's no reason to assume potatoes and corn and other non-European foods don't exist there. Mormont is always feeding his crow corn, so.

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On 19/03/2017 at 8:41 AM, King in t'North said:

Hrmmmm....... Personally I find the Americanisms littered throughout speech and prose to be very grating.

Personally the weirdest passage for me is when Sam is leaving castle black.  The wagon driver says "let's do this".  It always jars me out of the illusion because it's so modern/colloquial.  For a man who apparently chooses every word so carefully it has always seemed odd too me.

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