Storytime With Grendel: Recipe

Greetings, Tasty Travelers!

     Today’s question is a rather delicious one, coming to us from none other than another talking animal!

“Bonjour, great scaley one! Throughout these stories of yours, whether it’s cow, deer, human, or orc, in nearly every tale you mention a meal you’ve consumed. Being rather culinarily minded, I find myself wondering—do you always just eat whatever you can stuff in your mouth? Or do you, by chance, have a favorite recipe? We chefs would love a few tips!”
Remy

     Thank you for the question! From the size of the script and judging by the tiny footprints left on the parchment, Geldrin and I deduced that we were being contacted by an intelligent rat. But a rat who cooks? I’ve never heard of such a thing!

     Regardless, I appreciate you asking about one of my favorite subjects, diminutive one! And one that is surprisingly easy to answer. My favorite recipe is “Grilled prince with a mashed militia garnish.” To make, the chef must first find a prince. You’ll usually find them protected within a castle, though out riding through the woods or bothering the peasants are also places where they can be sourced. They are a rare delicacy indeed, as monarchies seem to be few and far between, but elven, dwarven, or even goblin princes will do, though human royalty tends to provide the most flavor. (The right blend of an impatience for the throne with just enough softness from frequent pillow-sitting gives this ingredient the most delectable flavor!)

     However, the main part of this meal would be nothing without the mashed militia! The good news is that, unless the prince has already fired his knights in a fit of spoiled rage, he will be surrounded by the crunchy honor-bound buffoons as soon as you begin your assault! This makes the simple act of finding the castle the only difficult part, though the preparation of the meal still takes a while once the final stone wall has fallen. The mashing part is the most fun, though, as you simply need to gather the knights in one dead-ended corridor, take your massive claws, and…

Editor’s note: Terribly sorry, dear readers! Though you may be all a bit used to this kind of talk from our resident dragon, it’s simply not the kind of recipe I think the question asker was looking for. I’ll see if I can’t get Grendel to steer the answer to a more universally approachable subject.

     Hmm… right. I guess a rat wouldn’t be able to mash a knight or grill a prince all that well. What else? Oh! Hand-breaded hobgoblin nuggets! Those are always a delicious treat. First, gather as much hobgoblin meat as you can. The breading isn’t actual bread, but instead comes from the ground-up bones of the hobgoblin chiefs, mixed with egg and a gallon of blood…

Editor’s note again: Gross. So sorry about all this. I’ll need to convince our dear dragon to share a recipe that’s less… disgusting.

     Fine, fine, but the readers are missing out on some deliciously honorable meat treats! But what would be a dish more in line with the palette of our readers? Maybe… orcish short ribs?

This one depends on if they’re made of orcs or by orcs.

     Both, actually! The dish originally comes from a tribe of cannibalistic orcs living in the Hif’grilga Hills. First, they take the shortest, weakest member of the clan, get a big pot of boiling oil, and convince the short one to take one last bath…

Nope! Alright…no more humanoids! I’ve told him that this dish needs to be approachable to all of our readers and considering that none of them seem to be dragons, if it has meat it needs to be something less…bipedal.

     Non-humanoid… hmm… How about unicorn goulash? Unicorns aren’t humanoids! And they make an incredibly tasty stew. Carving the horn into a spoon makes for an exceptionally enchanted experience. It’s absolutely bursting with flavor, with light notes of magic, savory, salty, and goodness. The pointy ponies are absolutely OBSESSED with spreading joy, cheer, and friendship throughout the world, and this desire comes through in the goulash quite easily, providing a most delectable of flavors…

It is at this point I realized that, though unicorns couldn’t talk in the traditional sense, they are absolutely sentient. I’m going to try one last time to steer Grendel towards a recipe that could actually be reproduced by our readers.

     Fine. Geldrin is informing me that I can’t do anything humanoid OR sentient! Don’t blame me if whatever dish I think of is lacking the more complex flavors that only something with a soul can bring. Also, if I have to share the kind of boring answer that you’d find in a regular mortal cookbook, I’m going to include the same kind of pointless story about “finding the recipe” that always seems to be written before the actual formula itself!

     I remember when I was but a tiny dragon, hardly a few years after hatching from my egg. Still living with my parents, my siblings and I were too young to go hunting ourselves, so dinner was always provided. My father, of course, wanted to introduce us early to the delicious flavors that only humans, elves, dwarves, and the like could produce. My mother, being a brass dragon and far too concerned with “goodness” and “not sentencing a sentient, mortal being to a horrid death in the maws of hungry wyrmlings” would always insist that we eat bugs, deer, bears, and other boring, flavorless animals.

     Through unseasoned meals we would trudge, day after day, growing larger and stronger as baby dragons are wont to do. Only a few times did my father let us try bits of mortal. He’d spend weeks away from the lair, and only when he returned did we realize where he had been—raiding and pillaging throughout the land. Sometimes, to the horror of my mother, he would deliver to us wymrlings a few spoils of his raids—a dwarf leg here or a human torso there. From these rare gifts, I was able to taste the amazing complexity of sentient beings. Frequently, I would describe how delicious these bits and pieces of mortal flesh were, though my brass siblings would reel in disgust, and the greens would look at me with confusion, saying that these treats were no more than “better meat.” It’s like I was the only one who could taste the proud determination of dwarf meat or the aloof longevity of elf flesh.

     Regardless, there was only one meal that I can remember that could compare to these complex flavors—my mother’s elk roast. I was born right after the great Dragon Pox plague many centuries ago, and the near-extinction of many of the world’s dragons is the reason why my green father and brass mother even decided to produce offspring in what would normally be a completely incompatible relationship. Though my parents seemed to be immune to the disease, time and again the plague would rear its foul head, and one of us wyrmlings would fall ill.

     Though it wasn’t as deadly for us, being the product of two unaffected individuals, we would still suffer many of the symptoms. In these times, my mother would always prepare for us this dish, and no matter whether it was brass, green, or even my raging father himself, we would all take a moment to stop arguing and sit around the lair, eating in companionable silence.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 large elk, or 1 herd if feeding multiple dragons
  • A handful of Queen’s Beckoning sprouts
  • 3 to 55 bushels of Vampire’s Bane cloves (depending on taste)
  • Enough ground salt to cover the meat entirely
  • Firebrand peppers (more than 5)
  • Freshly squeezed butterbulbs (enough to fill a small pool)
  • A single carrot
  • A shocking amount of patience

Kill, skin, and dress the elk carcass humanely (this is very important, though I don’t know why). Cover the meat in salt, sprouts, and cloves before soaking it in the butterbulb pool for at least 4 hours. When the meat is properly marinated, take it out and roast it with your fiery breath for around 2 hours. Only use a small, dull flame—you don’t need to burn the meat right away. Continue roasting and turning the meat until it is properly tender. After it’s finished, roast the peppers and carrot for 3 minutes before using them as garnish.

There you have it. The amount of time and patience it takes makes it a rare treat. Also, now Geldrin is informing me that most of our readers probably don’t have enough fiery breath to even attempt to make this dish, but I’m sure you folks have some sort of workaround. Either way, if any of you readers have enough patience to make this meal, I promise it will be worth it. It’s the only kind of non-sentient meat dish that I’ve ever found to have comparable complexity to mortal flesh. Once, I remember my father actually asking my mother, mid-roast mouthful, how she could possibly make a dish that was “anywhere near as good as king’s belly.” She looked at him the way she always did—with some fear in her eyes, but also with that ridiculous conviction that she was “always on the side of good.” Whatever that meant.

She replied with a simple, “Why, dear, I made it with love, of course. Something you’d know nothing about.” This, of course, began yet another fight that devolved into a furious battle, but to this day it’s stuck with me. I personally don’t know much about love, but if it can make a dish that tastes as good as that, it must be an incredibly powerful force.

Regardless, that’s my best recipe. Hopefully this storytime has left you as hungry as it has me! Until next time, keep seasoning yourselves with knowledge, or maybe even “love,” if it’ll make you mortals as tasty as I think it will!

Storytime with Grendel stories are compliments of Tyler Swanson
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