First Draft: Lessons in Tamriellian Cuisine

  • *NOTE: This is a very early concept of mine. Readers of R.T.H.L. might already know that I devote a fair amount of my attention to cuisine when writing. I have always been quite interested in the various forms of food found in the land of Tamriel, from the more orthodox ones derived from mainstream culinary arts to exotic dishes like Unthrappa. Ahhnn, Dance In Fire's depiction of the marbled meat is... mouth-watering. I know some other denizens of Tamriel and the Vault would agree with me...

     

    I will make this a forum topic in the future (the distant future, I will likely not start this series until I finish Book Two) as this is going to be extremely time-consuming - I intend to research a dish from the Elder Scrolls games and recreate it as authentically as possible with ingredients any of you can buy in your grocery stores (yes, that includes Unthrap- cough cough cough, ahem). While I do not expect to write much more on this until next year, I would still like to put this out in the open for general discussion and comments. Thank you!

     

     

    21/3/4E 197

    Lecture Hall Sixty-Seven, High Culture Education Wing, Tsukikage

     

     

                    Ambarro tapped his fingers in a nervous drumbeat on his workbench, drilling from left to right. He grew steadily faster as the minutes passed. Left to right, left to right, left to right left to right left to-

     

                    ‘Will you stop that?’ Harrow said, his silver eyes narrowing in an irritated glare.

     

                    ‘You seem on edge, Ambarro-to,’ Diia observed, tilting her head at him.

     

                    ‘Can you blame me? We’ve never been in a class taught by Bengakhi-dro of all people.’

     

                    ‘Careful he doesn’t catch you calling him a -dro, dunce,’ Harrow said, peering over to the doorway. ‘It seems he’s not the type of instructor to arrive early, though.’

     

                    ‘What’s this class about anyway? Must not be very important if they’re keeping the kits in the dark about it.’

     

                    ‘Judging by the workbenches and washbasins, I’m betting it’s an advanced alchemy session. But where are the other tools? Flasks, beakers…’ Tom’s ears twitched as he frowned.

     

                    ‘Bengakhi-ra might be bringing them with him,’ Nacadi said, shrugging.

     

                    ‘Does he really seem the sort of instructor we’d get for alchemy?’ Shiyo shook his head, confused. ‘I was expecting combat training-’

     

                    The clock struck ten and the class fell silent. As if on cue, the door to the lecture hall swung open and their instructor strode in. Bengakhi was even bigger than Harrow remembered, his arms having acquired – impossible as it might’ve seemed – another layer of bulging muscle since last year’s rout of the Thalmor. The orange-furred advisor was dragging a cloth-covered cart with him. Tinkles of ceramic rang out as it rolled to a stop.

     

                    ‘All rise,’ Diia called, standing up with the rest of her classmates.

     

                    ‘Bow.’ Year 182 swept into practiced ninety-degree bows.

     

                    ‘You may sit,’ Bengakhi rumbled, wasting no time on further pleasantries. ‘You are here today to learn some of the most important techniques you will ever utilise out in the field. I cannot overstate the significance of these lessons. If you want to do any form of undercover work, you will master these techniques. If you intend to be anything more than a simple cutthroat, you will master these techniques. If you wish to ever become Shadeclaws, you will master these techniques.

     

                    And without further ado, he threw back the cloth hanging over his cart, revealing row after row of shining cutlery.

     

                    ‘You are here today,’ Bengakhi growled. ‘To learn about cooking.’

     

                    Every single kit in the hall managed to keep a straight face, but a slight, almost inaudible snort issued from Ambarro’s imperfectly sealed lips.

     

                    Their new instructor’s ears perked up. A millisecond later, a butcher’s knife flashed through the air and embedded itself two inches deep in the young Po’ Tun’s workbench, where it stayed half a foot from his skull, humming menacingly. Ambarro’s snort turned into a choking stammer.

     

                    ‘Do I look like I’m making jokes, kit?’ Bengakhi snarled, rising to his full, seven-foot height and bearing down on him.

     

                    ‘No, Master,’ Ambarro gulped.

     

                    ‘Hmph.’ Bengakhi turned, yanking the heavy blade from the workbench. ‘You were expecting advanced hand-to-hand techniques? Complicated spellwork? I assure you, high cuisine requires just as much skill, discipline and self-control.

     

                    ‘I do not think there are any of you here so dull that the importance of a cook’s position is lost on you. As Po’ Tun, your most natural disguise will be as a Khajiit – subsequently, much of your time undercover will be spent impersonating servants and slaves in often important households and estates…

     

                    ‘And those among you here with a touch of elven sensuality will likely find yourselves in even higher positions.’ Bengakhi’s eyes flicked to Harrow. ‘That is precisely why you must become an expert at producing everything from high-end Altmeri cuisine to the most exotic of Yokudan dishes. You must become able to create food that will satisfy every known Tamriellian palate. If a Breton nobleman should happen to ask you to produce one of their signature Potages, your pot must be on par with the finest chefs of High Rock. If you come across a Nord target that relishes horker, you must know every single method to prepare the meat, from stewing to braising. If you are to even think of operating in Elsweyr, your ability to season dishes with Moon Sugar must be as exact, as accurate, and as unrelenting as a Rain Style monk’s strikes. And make no mistake, kits, you are still learning how to place strikes in these lessons. The only difference is this: you are targeting taste buds instead of vital organs.’

     

                    By now the atmosphere in the class had sharpened into one on par with Master Mokko’s harshest sparring sessions. Bengakhi let his voice drop, drawing even more attention as he finished.

     

                    ‘From this point forward, food is your life. Just as it is in the kitchens of the real world, nothing but absolute perfection will suffice – which is precisely why I am in charge of your instruction. This class has performed marginally better than most other Years so far. Do not disappoint me.’

     

                    Bengakhi paused for a brief minute, letting his words sink in. The kits of Year 182 looked slightly alarmed at his fervour, but all in all they looked…

     

                    ‘Ready for battle.’ Bengakhi nodded, folding his arms. ‘Good. Any questions?’

     

                    ‘Only one, Master.’ Harrow draped a cloth over a cleaver and pulled slowly over the full nine-inch blade of gleaming, freshly polished steel. The smallest hint of a smile graced his lips.

     

                    ‘What’s our first dish?’

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Comments

3 Comments   |   KaiserSoSay and 2 others like this.
  • The Lorc of Flowers
    The Lorc of Flowers   ·  August 26
    I got a feeling that they will be making sliced off fingers on a pan very soon :D
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  August 23
    Hound and Rat is a delicious meal, I've heard. Cook that one up :D
  • KaiserSoSay
    KaiserSoSay   ·  August 23
    Yeah, I think I'm not gonna even try the food in Tsukikage, regardless if it has a Michelin star or not. :P
    Very interesting to see where this goes. I hope it has a bit of shino-nanigans to add a bit of flavor. Fun fact: Ol' GRRM loves to write foo...  more