We all have to eat, so I figured I might as well make it fun. For Chanukah, Max had given me the Game of Thrones Cookbook: A Feast of Ice and Fire, and so far everything I’d made from it has been delicious. Our whole family loves the HBO series Game of Thrones, and Max and I have read all five of the George R.R. Martin books and loved them even more. In case you have been living somewhere far away, like across the Narrow Sea, you must know about the phenomenon that is Game of Thrones. It is a fantasy version of the Yorks vs. the Lancasters, set in fictitious Westeros. The loyal and true Starks and the scheming and fascinating Lannisters are great houses, as are the beautiful, powerful, and oft-mad Targaryens and the, well, the Martells. (The Martells are the Hufflepuffs of Westeros). Each of these houses and lesser families also intertwine in a tale of passion, intrigue, journeys, treachery, and growth.
At first, however, I did not quite understand why I liked GOT. Max raved about it and finally got us to watch it with him, in — of all places — his dorm room at NYU. There I was, lying next to Ned on Maxie’s bed with friends of his on the opposite bed, feeling like we were back in college, but better. When Max loves something/someone, he does it with his heart and soul. His loyalty is Stark-like and everlasting. He still has his Blue Blankie from his Day One. He cried when Ben lost his (Ben’s) favorite Superman toy. He loves the people in his life and truly shows up for them.
I think my GOT obsession is wrapped around my love of Max. I saw the story through his eyes, almost literally that first night in his room. And when I read the books, he would Instant Message with me from college to find out where I was in them and what I thought of what was happening in the story. When I finished Book V, we talked and talked about what it all meant, what was to come (there are two books still to be written), how did this relate to that, and so on. I never felt quite finished with these conversations; I wanted to talk and talk to him but I could not articulate the longing I was feeling.
Tonight, I realized that this was likely the last dinner we would have in a while as the original five of us. Max was going off on his adventures and then back to school pretty soon; Nat had his various social outings. Ben is here but he does not enjoy eating dinner that much — except tonight was different. I made a beef and bacon pie; the top was a bacon lattice which Max lovingly made. I baked two round loves of oatbread, and finished up with corn fritters drizzled in honey. This is an authentic meal from Winterfell, the North, the land of the Starks.
Max was with me, sauteing while I chopped and stirred. The smells of cooking filled the downstairs: the bakey smell of bread, the hot buttery smell of bacon, the bubbly brown of stewing meat. Nat flitted back and forth, watching what we were doing. At one time he seemed alarmed by the unusual combinations of food (steak bits and bacon, pie dough filled with meat, not apples) and he put his hands to his head and said, “Spaghetti. Pot.” I reassured him that he would like this dinner.
When the food was ready, I ran upstairs and put on an old midnight blue velvet dress I’d bought 20 years ago from Laura Ashley. I pinned up my hair and when I came down, Ben complimented me by calling me a total dork. “Welcome to nerddom, Mom,” he said. My heart swelled with pride because I could tell he approved. I motioned us all over to the table, which I had set for a Medieval-style feast, in Stark colors of white and gray. Ben made the Stark sigil of the wolf, and hung it in the window. We lit candles, and Nat said the Hebrew blessing for candles. Ned got out the music from Game of Thrones, which his brother CB had bought me for Christmas, and Ben pronounced it, “epic.”
We ate and ate. Everything went well together: the slightly sweet, oaty bread; the honey and corn fritters, the dense pie. Ned and I shared a goblet of wine (my sister Laura had bought the wonderful goblets for us years ago), and ate off of my grandmother’s china. I was swathed in velvet, surrounded by my grown-up sons, my handsome husband, the shining silver, swelling music, and hot delicious food. I think we all felt it, this crystalline moment in time, suspended in a different world, and yet, grounded by love, the simplest and most splendid of emotions.