There and Snack Again: Lord of the Welsh cakes

1 Jan, 2021, updated 1 Jan, 2021 there and snack again lord of the rings

LotR boxset

So, I’ve covered the prep, now, how did we get on?

TV showing title card for Fellowship of the Ring

🎶 * swelling chords * 🎶

Yeah we didn’t get up on time. We woke up, sure, but actually getting downstairs, stew on, chai brewing, teeth cleaned, fire going… not quite. Happily this wasn’t a sign of things to come, as we settled in at 0745 at the last day of 2020. I also started tweeting along.

TV showing the One Ring

Laser insight from my wife:

Wait a minute, we’re watching 13 hours of film about a ring, and you’re not wearing your wedding ring?

Then after that minor logistic point was sorted, we set off, slightly late, slightly rushing. But not as badly as Bilbo in The Hobbit. I even had my handkerchief, in fact.

A variety of christmas cake in hand
Celebrating Bilbo's one-hundred-and-eleventh-th birthday

It’s Bilbo’s wedding! We had plenty of Christmas cake of both wheat and non-gluten-containing varieties. It’s a little solid in the morning, I won’t lie, compared to a sponge. I made a nice milky chai, which probably isn’t canon either but I really like chai. Of course, it fills me up.

For some reason, Sean Astin is the one who looks weirdly YOUNG to us, everyone else we’re fine with. Is it just comparing with Stranger Things?

And then the apples started and soon:

Frodo's funny face
Of course, this was just foreshadowing how full we'd feel

There’s a lot of fruit and veg. Our Guide had warned us of this, but even so, maybe just carve some apples and have segments ahead of time. I didn’t want to leave one half-eaten and have it go brown in 20s. Sam and Frodo start preparing another meal and Amy and I groaned aloud - however they are distracted by Elves, and that’s when Sam goes to bed with a single slice of bread instead.

This my friends, is a pint
This my friends, is a pint

I decided I would drink a pint (of cider, I don’t like beer) that early in the morning. Yes, it was probably a mistake. No, I have no regrets.

Although getting hold of a pint of cider required me to open two half-litre bottles… And then have my apple for Second Breakfast, while Amy was distracted by Aragorn going through his Irish phase.

Sausages, tomatoes, nice crispy bacon in frying pans
Pausing for some cooking

Then we made a fry-up for Weathertop. Technically, it should be “Sausages, tomatoes, and nice crispy bacon” but I hadn’t had any mushrooms yet and they’re Kind Of A Big Deal in the book. Much food was cooked1, and little remains

Eating fryup

However eating the fry-up, entirely worth it. Also a relatively healthy amount of food. Unfortunately Amon Sûl does not show up well in the photograph. I blame the pint, which is still on-going at this point!

We have our sparkling water while the Nazgûl are washed away, and compare TV and book versions of Arwen. Frodo wakes up in the Last Homely House, and I go for a shower. If Frodo gets to be clean, I’m washing bacon grease smell out of my hair!

Gimli on TV; and an axe
AND MY (SPLITTING) AXE

Yes, I brought in my firewood axe for this. No, there’s no eating here, I just did it for fun.

Hobbits eating sandwiches

One of my favourite meals, genuinely it was very immersive having a sandwich at the same time that everyone else is. Also this bit of the film is nice and pretty, as is the book. I had my ‘Atlas of Middle-Earth’ out as well, although didn’t consult it too much.

Everyone eating lembas
Looks like a delicious turnover to me

Eating lembas-substitutes was also weirdly immersive. Nothing to see here, we’re just all munching away together.

Two Towers disc menu

Two Towers is definitely the hump. Until the battles start, everyone eats a lot, all at the same time.

Merry having orc medicine tipped on him

Originally our plan was to have actual “tickly cough” syrup here, as it’s medicinal, but doesn’t actually have any ingredients in it worth speaking of. Then we debated whether a botanical such as Aperol would be a good fit - certainly I hate it. Finally2 I remembered enjoying a cheap supermarket-grade cherry brandy that “tasted like cough syrup”. We measured it out on a teaspoon for the ‘full effect’ and as Amy is still complaining about it today, it definitely worked.

Ribs in a roasting tin
Meat's back on the menu, boys!

We didn’t make a little orc corpse of meat, we just ate ribs. I feel we’ve let the side down here but it did help keep to time, and it’s a bit difficult to do something fancy when you’re feeling full. Perhaps not as pretty, but nice and messy, and also straight in and out of the oven (put it in when starting the film, works pretty well).

I also showed Amy a related video for when GMs can’t do the voices in a scene - I definitely struggle with this if I was planning on an accent that I can’t actually pull off.

Kids eating soup, cheese and bread
Not Peter Jackson's kids and we're all confused

MORE FOOD‽ Leek and potato (and kale) soup we already had leftover. And bread. And cheese.

potatoes boiled, mashed, and cooked in a stew
Wot's 'taters' precious?

The beef stew was pretty good actually. Technically the potatoes were boiled, and some were mashed, and they were merely an accompaniment to the stew which instead had celeriac and carrot with the meat and (gluten-free) ale.

Not shown: Gollum’s worm. We didn’t eat a worm. We didn’t even eat gummi worms or liquorice as they both have wheat in (or flour on them to stop them sticking). So, a slight failure here, but still tasty.

Hobbits eating at Isengard

I think we winced when they found the food in TT but they don’t eat it til ROTK so that’s something. A small ploughman meal here.

Not shown, Gollum’s raw fish, which was cooked but cold trout for us. I quite like trout, actually, I know now. Haven’t shown the rest of the Welsh cakes either - I had four in the end. One of them was the crumbs that Gollum scatters on Sam - I’m never too full for a Welsh cake. I’m pretty sure in the book they’re still chowing down on lembas when they’re in Mordor.

Theoden makes a toast
To the victorious dead!

I think every line that “Theoden King” gets is golden, like his hall.

Pippin lighting the beacon fire

Much like the Guide, realising the beacon guards might be eating something was a source of genuine distress. But then it’s the signal fires bit and “Rohan shall answer” and it’s all great. We’re pretty sure there’s more beacons than you’d need to just ride between the two nations.

Also, that’s got to be a crap job, especially right at the top of a mountain, in the wind. Those bonfires’d have to be nailed together.

Denethor's chicken and grapes
Time for Denethor's lunch!

Of course Denethor’s meal of military slaughter, chicken, tomates and grapes was going to be a highlight. I don’t even like cold chicken or raw tomatoes that much. In fact it turns out I really hate raw tomatoes. So this will be another scene where I will only have a more visceral reaction in the future. Still great.

Aragon's last stand
Aragon's last stand

I don’t take many pictures of the military bits but I wanted something to commemorate the end, and I can’t take a picture of Frodo and Sam forgetting the taste of strawberries. We’d practically forgotten the taste too, by that point.

🍓 🍓

Frodo throwing the Ring...
Mood: exhausted.

Genuinely quite satisfying to see the Ring go into Orodruin. Of course, they have to go back to Minas Tirith, kneel to no-one, and then go home. Back at the beginning we’d thought about drinking some bubbly for New Years and also toasting King Elessar but no, we’re done. It’s 10pm and we’re tired.

We almost miss Sam’s wedding (God forbid Rosie says anything on-screen). I certainly don’t photograph it, although we do have our last cake. Amy was going to give up but battles through.

Normally she’d cry at the Grey Havens but we’re a bit numb at this point. Stopping the films don’t help in that regard, but also given the year, we don’t really want to dwell on the sad bits too much anyway.

Conclusion

So, two questions: did we have fun, and would we do this again?

Yes, this was great. Brilliant way to see out the year, not ruined by The Rona. I think I will definitely have some PTSD next time I watch it, especially seeing them sneak a plate in the background. Certainly has been, and continues to be, a great conversation starter. And we’ve got some happy lockdown memories.

I don’t think I’d do this again for these films though. It makes the day longer - 15 hours between start and stop of the player! Pausing the film does impact the drama a little bit. In fact, I think next watching I’d like to have in the cinema.

Maybe not back-to-back though!

Recommendations

If you were to come to me and say “Stephen I’m thinking of following in the magnificent path you trod” I would say:

  1. Check with yourself that you’re happy stopping your favourite film at all the good bits
  2. Go look on Twitter at recent attempts
  3. Read all of the Guide’s recommendations again! For real!
  4. Eating things you don’t like takes stomach space
  5. Drinking takes stomach space too
  6. Eat cold if you can, out of the fridge
  7. Remove straight from the microwave, oven, or slow cooker what you’re having hot
  8. That should just leave the fry-up
  9. Have a dishwasher, all the separate meals gets everything dirty

  1. Although annoyingly we forgot to cook some peppers we planned to eat at Isengard ↩︎

  2. Is it only now you’re realising we over-thought this massively?? ↩︎

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