“A SELF-DEFROCKED HOLYMAN ekes out a meager but honest living as a mercenary cook.”
HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR a layman’s questioning, Prosatio Silban might never have learned of the Hidden God.
“What’s with all the filled fare?” he overheard someone say, on a day when the beefy cook was browsing cosmopolitan Soharis’ thronged street-food marketplace. The question was directed to the owner of a food stall whose offerings included dumplings, wraps, hand pies, and a dozen other examples of the stuffed-with-deliciousness kind.
“WHO MAKES UP THE RULES for which goes with what?” asked m’Lady Phytan Gorrista’s eldest son. “Eating meat with a fork, soup with a large spoon, or drinking yava from a ceramic mug? What about combining oil of olives with garlic? Ham with eggs? Fidget-hen with pungentine?”
“One might as well ask why the sun doesn’t fall out of the sky,” replied Prosatio Silban, handing him a steaming bowl of fruited porridge. “The Flickering Gods, in Their wisdom, have decreed it from before creation – indeed, They built it into creation’s very fabric. Our happy task is to simply enjoy all of these things, in all of their combinations, rather than to break our heads and palates over how and why they came to be. It is one more example of life in this, the most interesting of all possible worlds.”
THERE ARE SOME RECIPES A cook was not meant to know.
It had begun innocently enough, in epicurean Pormaris’ enormous Archive of Gastronomic Artifice. This beloved institution was holy to two of the six-hundred-thirteen Flickering Gods: Toth-Ar the Divine Scribe and Scofi, Patroness of Culinary Inspiration. Prosatio Silban made a point of perusing the Archive at least once a year to research new recipes or rediscover old ones. His latest visit had begun much like the others – a pleasant morning’s browse through stacks of scrolls and shelves of codices collected from the Three Cities and Thousand Villages of the Uulian Commonwell as well as the surrounding Exilic Lands.
My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.
— H.P. Lovecraft, “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction”
An homage to the Cook For Any Price’s D&D roots. Enjoy.
THE FIRST THING TO KNOW about getting along in basalt-wrought Zug Ululat is that you must never, under any circumstances, mention the howling.
Prosatio Silban knew this. And yet, even the loud singing around the roaring braziers in the cool spring evening could not dispel the chill in his soul.
The howling rolled down, faint but distinct, from somewhere near the far summits of the overhanging Blacktooth Mountains. Their jagged dark mass stretched north for many days’ zebra-ride like a frozen and unbroken wave, dividing the fog-shadowed Valley of Silence to the east from the reed-thick Emerald Incessance to the west.
When faced with [a piece or opinion of Torah] that is on its face absurd or contradictory, the rabbis do not dismiss it, but actively work to understand it. What would it look like for us, when someone says something apparently illogical and absurd, to assume that they are making some kind of internal sense and actually thoughtfully work to understand their reasoning?”
— Sara Ronis, “A Daily Dose of Talmud (Pesachim 78),” @myjewishlearning.com
COOKING IS MORE THAN SIMPLY preparation: it is also a celebration of source, and hence a manifestation of living history.
“Where did you find this recipe?” m’Lady Phytan Gorrista asked between well-laden forkfuls. “I have never tasted its like.”
Prosatio Silban bowed deeply. “That is always gratifying to hear, m’Lady. As you may imagine, there is a story attached to its discovery. I was recently traveling in the uninhabited hills far to the northwest of epicurean Pormaris…”