Indulgence is at the core of Game of Thrones. Snakes crackle over an open flame as the Sand Snakes plot their revenge in Dorne. Oysters glisten in baskets as Arya runs through the streets of Braavos to evade her assassin. Blood-red wine shivers in goblets and pine nuts leap off roasted beets as Cersei pounds her fists in the Red Keep. Meat pies steam on pewter dishes as soldiers sit at the Inn at the Crossroads for one last hot meal before their deaths.
Like sex, food in George R.R. Martin’s universe is a way to laugh at the Many-Faced God. Yes, winter is always coming, but there is cheese to eat, and oranges, and fish stew to sop up with crusty bread. (If you’re a dragon, there are sheep to fry.) When food is scarce or unappetizing in this world, you know the stakes could not be higher—at the Red Wedding, the first clue something was wrong came in the form of a thin leek soup. As the Night King approaches in season 8, nothing is more portentous than the low granaries at Winterfell.
Now, it is not the Night King who comes but the end of Game of Thrones itself. For eight long years we’ve waited for the finale that airs Sunday, and it’s our duty to send it off dripping in honey, stuffed with the fruits of our labor. Here we present a last-ever Game of Thrones viewing party menu: eight dishes in hedonistic honor of the eight seasons, with fare celebrating the most important places in Westeros and Essos. There’s nothing on the menu to represent the Citadel because, gross, all Samwell ate there was slop. Nor is there anything from the Iron Islands, since they proudly produce nothing of their own. To honor Theon and Yara, just snatch what’s yours off someone else’s plate—enough to fill your mouth so no one hears you cry as the credits roll.
Meat Pies (Every Region of Westeros and Essos)
You cannot send off Game of Thrones without a meat pie. Quintessentially Thronesian, they’re cooked in many of the kingdoms, including Essos. The Dothraki version is filled with (horse) blood, of course. A grand pigeon pie is the centerpiece of Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding in King’s Landing. After Arya murders Walder Frey’s sons, she does her best Mrs. Lovett and bakes their flesh into a pie she feeds to their father.
If you want to get serious about this, go for one of the recipes in the official Game of Thrones cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire, for which Martin wrote the foreword. (It’s almost as though he has time on his hands to write things!) You can pick from: medieval pork, beef and bacon, and pigeon pie, which calls for “five pigeons, cleaned and dressed” and is only available in the cookbook itself. (Bon Appetit helpfully offers an alternative recipe subbing in squab.)
I suggest instead picking a hand pie more conducive to eating on couches in the dark without silverware. You’re like a soldier heading up the King’s Road to battle—you need something portable and comforting to get you through this night. The modern Cornish or Jamaican beef pasty is ideal, but every cuisine has a meat pie variety, and they’d all do: samosas, knishes, empanadas, piroshki, xian bing, etc. Pick one and make (or buy) a lot. (I’m making these, and adding currants.) Make a gravy to dip it in, a hot sauce to douse it in. This is the most crucial dish of your party, a buttery bundle of death and fat.
Bread, Cheese, and Fruit (Essos and Dorne)
You must have a cheese platter, and this is your chance to salute the world across the Narrow Sea, as well as the hot southern Dornish lands. Scatter fresh herbs, rich cheeses, pomegranate seeds, cubed watermelon, and olives on your prettiest serving tray. (Extra points for tarnished silver.) Slice crusty bread for dipping, and pretend this isn’t the end.
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Wine, Wine, Wine (Everywhere)
You also need wine. Obviously. To drown your sorrows and, Tyrion-like, wish on the “god of tits and wine.” (The Hand of the Queen may have grown dumb, but he drinks just the same. We can’t betray him now.) Pick a skin-contact orange, like the sour wines of Dorne; a fine red served in some kind of carafe; and a good white or grape juice in honor of the best Arbor Golds in Westeros. Also consider pouring a mulled wine: red, hot, spiced, and full of dried-up fruit, like the Old Bear Jeor Mormont likes it. Pull out that Instant Pot you said you’d use and fill it with two bottles of red, two cinnamon sticks, a handful of raisins, some sliced oranges, a few cloves, a heaping of honey, a tablespoon of fresh ginger, a dash or two of nutmeg, and hey, maybe some black pepper. You could throw some bourbon or cognac or rum in there, too. Cheers!
Milk (The Vale)
Look, there’s probably a lot of great food in the Vale. But the most iconic is breast milk, suckled for far too long by not-so-little Lord Robin Arryn. Serve a probiotic fermented yogurt drink, like Yakult or shots of kefir with lime zest. Your sober guests will appreciate it, at least—and just for funsies, ask them how long they were breast-fed.
Fish (The Riverlands and Eastern Westeros)
The land that gave Westeros Lady Catelyn Stark—and took her away—is known for its rivers and fish. You could make a seafood Sister’s stew, but that’s a bit messy in front of a TV. Instead, dish up boquerones, small white anchovies marinated in vinegar; they’ll pair well with your olives and crackers. You can make them yourself or pick them up at any higher-end market.
Beet and Grain Salad (The North)
As Lady of Winterfell, Sansa has been obsessed with filling her granaries. Rightfully so—the long winter is here and she’s got mouths to feed (even after the Night King’s rampage). Honor her with a farro salad with roasted beets, the kind of hearty root vegetable that grows well in frigid northern climes.