“You might not be able to rule the Seven Kingdoms, but you can eat the same meal as their royalty. That Hogwarts letter may never arrive, but you'll never have to pretend when tasting a batch of real, fresh-baked pumpkin pasties.”

In 2015, a perfect fusion of events in Catherine Barson Eastis' life convinced the self-described geek to start a food blog devoted to pop culture. Among the factors influencing her decision were the fact that she'd received A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook the year before as a wedding gift, won Battle & Brew's fandom cookie competition for a second time, hosted a Thronesgiving feast to celebrate the Game of Thrones season premiere and started helping her geek-fashion-blogger roommate The Lady Nerd learn how to cook for her blog.

Barson Eastis (@thegluttonousgeek) started developing a recipe inspired by Anna and the King, creating a Thai-English fusion meal of sweet potato cottage pie and rice pudding emblematic of the relationship between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens. It occurred to her that the skills she'd developed over the years—writing, literature analysis, cooking and graphic design—would be useful in developing her own blog. The following week she began researching and building what would become The Gluttonous Geek.

In the About section of her blog, Barson Eastis discusses her thoughts on the relationship between fantasy, reality and food: “Through years of reading, writing, tabletop RPGs, and what not, I've always found a little bit of a disconnect between fantasy and reality that even through the former's best efforts, could not be bridged. It wasn't until I started cooking for friends that I found that bridge through food. No matter what world you're in, everyone eats, and we can meet those characters through sharing a meal with them. I can enjoy some pork pies with Tyrion Lannister without needing to pretend. I can cook up some chimichangas for Deadpool without having him bust through the window to join me.”

Barson Eastis began Googling possible names for her blog capturing the intersection of popular culture and food. She settled on The Gluttonous Geek, reasoning that no other food blogger had and the tone fit what she wanted to communicate and celebrate with her readers.

“I suppose I have a hunger for knowledge, fandom and weird flavor combinations that is perhaps a little overindulgent,” she acknowledged. “Geeks in themselves are gluttonous and, a lot of times, obsessive with their chosen fandom. I guess you could say I want to help satiate their hunger to connect with their favorite things in another way.”

From the beginning, Barson Eastis took her responsibilities as a food blogger seriously. She didn't have a formal culinary education at the time, but had experimented in the kitchen during the recession following her 2008 college graduation. But when Barson Eastis started the blog she began taking cooking classes, reasoning that years of kitchen experiments and internet research was a good base to start from but that a more classic culinary education would allow her to pass that knowledge on to her readers through her posts and recipes. Since launching The Gluttonous Geek, Barson Eastis continues to study culinary technique, food history and culinary science in her free time. She credits the fact that she's a Ravenclaw for her constant drive to expand her knowledge of the culinary arts. While on her honeymoon in 2016, she acquired a library card for the British Library so she could handle the collection of cookbooks from the 1800s.

Fandom is so much a part of Barson Eastis' life that it can't be contained to a single blog. The food blogger and her husband host dinner parties and events inspired by The Lord of the Rings, Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Star Wars and an annual six-course Thronesgiving feast inspired by Game of Thrones. These events are largely reflective of her favorite fandoms which include Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons and How to Train Your Dragon along with a recent fascination with RPG podcasts and web series including The Adventure Zone and JourneyQuest. Barson Eastis is also a member of Fandom Foodies, described on their website as “a group of food-lovers that cook with inspiration from games, books movies and pop culture in general.” Each month the Fandom Foodies select a different theme and the participants create a recipe inspired by that month's theme. Past themes have included Serenity/Firefly, Roald Dahl, Battle Chef Brigade, Game of Thrones and Star Wars among many others.

The process of developing a new recipe can take hours, days or even weeks depending on the inspiration. Barson Eastis prefers to develop recipes inspired by a particular fandom rather than produce direct reproductions of particular dishes. She starts by researching her source material relying on Google and Reddit to research food history and provide a literary analysis of her subject so she can incorporate the right flavor profiles. She then finds existing recipes and cooking techniques that she might want to incorporate into her recipe, builds a list of ingredients and gets to work putting it all together. As she experiments with melding ideas, ingredients and techniques into a single, cohesive recipe, Barson Eastis takes notes documenting changes she'd like to make, differences in cooking time and her impressions of her initial results. The recipe she ultimately posts on her blog is the result of repeated experiments, revisions and taste tests to determine the best possible recipe. But the recipe is just the beginning.

“Not only do I have to record it, but I also need to write the literary analysis, edit photos, design social media images and recipe cards, configure SEO and formatting and submit it to different social media challenges,” Barson Eastis explained. “Professional-looking content creation is a full-time job that a lot of us take for granted until we are well into it.”

Does eating Barson Eastis' Stark Sisters Stew recipe transform you into Arya or Sansa? Technically, no. But eating Stark Sisters Stew while watching the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones might make you feel closer to a fandom you love, and that's ultimately what Barson Eastis is trying to achieve.

“We as humans are social creatures in search of connection. Fandom is an apparent display for that desire to connect to new worlds and characters in stories whether through cosplay, fanart, role-playing games, etc. As much as a person could immerse themselves in those worlds through those methods, though, there still is a gap between fantasy and reality. No matter how detailed your Jon Snow costume is, you're still John Doe from Accounting underneath it. Food, however, can be a great equalizer. You might not be able to rule the Seven Kingdoms, but you can eat the same meal as their royalty. That Hogwarts letter may never arrive, but you'll never have to pretend when tasting a batch of real, fresh-baked pumpkin pasties.”

Hungry for More?

Watch The Gluttonous Geek's Twitch channel featuring Meal Prep Monday on Mondays from 5 to 7 p.m. EST and Munchies & Minis on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. EST. Monday nights are an informal stream where Barson Eastis preps ingredients for blog posts and meals, offering tips and tricks for food economy and cooking technique. Wednesday's stream is a cooking and painting demo involving cooking a Dungeons & Dragons or other tabletop RPG-inspired snack before painting a miniature.

Catherine Barson Eastis' Favorite Pop Culture Recipes
Cezar's Dragon Shank Meatball
Thrash's Armarock Ribs with Windfruit Mole
Ravenclaw Tower Smoked Scotch Eggs
Foxy's Victory Chicken