Welcome to Flavortown - Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar
Chef's Kiss | Illustrated by Ian McCaig
A Chef's Guide to Warfare
Pan-Seared Vodalian Merfolk
First, you're going to want to heat up some skirge-ghee in your pan. Now, I get my best results when I harvest this straight from the source. That means whenever the next Interplanar invasion hits, you better get to harvesting. In order to give your dish a more heterogeneous texture, fry some bread crumbs and herbs in the ghee. When I first made this dish, I had originally used Urbogi bread, but that'll go up in a flash if you aren't careful.
Set the bread/seasonings aside, then mix together two of your favorite condiments. This dish was quite common in the years following the Great Devastation, meaning people had little access to our modern pleasantries, so I'm sure glad we get to spice this up. Then coat your merfolk fillets in the condiment mixture and fry them up in your pan. These can char quite quickly if you aren't careful. It's a process that takes time, so don't try this dish for the first time on a date. Trust me, I've made that mistake.
Once you've flipped the merfolk, coat the top in your crumb mixture; it should adhere to the merfolk's skin. If you've done this right, a vodalian merfolk's hide will absorb some of the herbs to bring flavor to the whole dish. Once it's cooked to your liking, simply plate and serve to your surely voracious guests.
Pan-fried merfolk, while nothing special, is one of the essential dishes any aspiring cook should learn. Aqueous meat is one of the best ways to understand how meat responds to heat and different substances. Once you've mastered something like this, a whole world of options will open up to you. It's the first step to being an award-winning chef. And trust me, speaking as Dominaria's most infamous chef, it's a pretty great life.
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar hated her life. The publishing industry was already hellish enough. What certainly didn't help were the litany of bounty hunters, demons, and demonic bounty hunters that constantly wanted her head on a stake. Huddled in a cave deep in the mountains, she watched a battle rage outside. Two kingdoms likely fighting over some petty squabble. Perhaps one slighted another over dinner, or they both claimed ownership over a tiny field. Either way it drew attention away from her hiding place.
She read over the newly minted recipe to look for any grammatical or procedural errors. Sure, she could have gone into more detail about levels of heat or the herbs one might want to use, but then they'd learn too fast. The perfect student was one who would always make a slight mistake. They'd get good reviews from their friends and family, but still feel they had more to learn so they'd buy the next cookbook in hopes of learning some little trick that would prepare them to be the personal chef to King Darien. But that would never come.
An artist in the kitchen must deprive themself of pleasure, she thought. Making art that was worth consumption meant dismissing one's personal needs in order to tend to the voracious consumer. The noble who wanted more, the general who demanded substitutions, or the archmage who cried out for dessert. Her audience demanded constant service and appeasement. By the gods, she'd give it to them.
Folding the recipe into a neat rectangle, she then rapped her knuckles against the stone wall. There was a moment of silence, then a deep roar as the cave walls slid open. Inside was a spiral staircase that descended into the depths of the netherworld. A personal portal to hell, every woman's dream. A handrail kept her steady as she began her journey. The first time she'd entered hell, it was understandably quite odd. Demons and devils would scream out in some form of punishment, either for them or her. But learning the palette of the infernal inhabitants made her indispensable.
"Oi, Vyix! I've got another recipe for you." The young chef called out into the pits. "Thinkin' this one should go towards the Big One."
Emerging from the shadows was a haggard old imp. He wore a pair of spectacles forged from obsidian, the lenses covered in soot. Each step left a cloud of ashes behind him, a perpetual smokescreen. His voice was hoarse, likely due to the aforementioned smoke. "Yes, yes. Tell me, did you properly format it in accordance with my wishes?"
"Your formatting is a waste of my time. Look, it's a good recipe. You can sit 'ere and complain, or take the damn piece."
Snatching the paper from her, Vyix read over the paragraphs of scrawled instructions. His frail hands clung to the parchment. The imp muttered beneath his breath, calmly critiquing and correcting the intricacies of the recipe. But when he looked up, the chef couldn't help but smile when he gave her the seal of approval. "Looks nice. For a human palette, at least. It'll do. I think we should have a publishable edition with just a few more recipes."
She wrinkled her brow. "Come on, you can't send me back up there. Last week a pyromanic just about scorched my hair off. Still smell the smoke everywhere...," she mumbled to herself. "Vyix darling, why don't we just publish what we have? You and Vincent can make your mint off it, and I can be welcomed back into hell as your own personal chef." She smiled, nudging the old imp in the shoulder.
Vyix didn't take kindly to her charms, but it never hurt to try. Crossing his arms, his demeanor shifted to one of uncharacteristic concern. "Your work is good. The denizens quite like what you've created. But there's no heart to it yet. The first cookbook, it was a labor of love."
"Because I was trying not to be eaten by Vincent."
"That still counts as passion." Vyix said. "Look, you need to give me something with some passion. The book won't sell if all of it is just 'here's how to make Goblin Club Sandwiches' for two-hundred pages."
"I quite like the club sandwiches."
"Me too. But just get out there instead of hiding in the hills. Then we can talk about a permanent residence here." The old servant look through some scrolls, records of the mortal world's happenings. "There's that war, near your encampment. Why don't you spend some time with the armies. Get that human element we need."
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar shook her head. "I doubt you'll take no for an answer."
"Just try it. Who knows, maybe you'll want to remain mortal instead of becoming an immortal infernal with us?"
They both paused for a moment before breaking into laughter. Who would ever want to be a mortal?
Field-Ready Blood Rations
These are some easy rations to make in bulk before you and your platoon head out to the front lines against the impending attack!
First, you'll want to use your choice of pie-pastry. Some people will tell you it's fine to use Mercadian puff bread, but that'll just fall apart. Roll that out into a nice sheet, then divide into rectangles. While this is going on, have your kitchen imp cook down some blood into a nice jam. Be sure to add sugar or it'll taste like iron.
Place a dollop of the blood jam in the center of every other rectangle. Then carefully place the other rectangles atop the other, crimping the edges with a fork. Do this carefully, or your fillings will leak out. Once you've done that, hit those with a light egg wash and smattering of sprinkles if you're inclined. Bake them under a fiery flame for a dozen minutes or so, then presto! Blood pastry!
The chef ducked down as a mortar exploded above the trenches. The Shivan soldiers sat nestled together, preparing for their next charge. The platoon had been at war with the Thran empire for nearly a month now. A dozen or so soldiers in rusting armor, praying for survival. They were so grateful to see a new face that they didn't question the strange woman who offered to be their personal cook.
"New person! You going to help us arm the cannons, or will you just sit there taking notes on our deaths?" shouted Colonel Radic. The elderly witch barked orders to the other Thran soldiers. One dragged a cannon through the trench, tossing up blood and mud and they went. "Their reinforcements will be arriving within the hour, move!"
She stifled a laugh. The colonel and her soldiers would likely be dead by day's end. Yet they still toiled over gaining some traction in their rebellion. A chef being present for so much of this death felt ironic. They'd scarf down her cooking for the sustenance to fight another day, all while knowing the war would likely take their lives.
Vyix would be able to evacuate her if need be. She'd stay with them until they met their ends. It'd make for a nice start to her book. Dedicated to the Shivan Rebels, In Memory of Colonel WhatsHerName.
A fist slammed against the wall to the side of her head. Colonel Radic stared deep into the cook's eyes. The colonel's hand rested just above her staff, the magic coalescing around her hands, waiting to be released.
"This a joke to you?" Radic asked. "Is our resistance a joke to you? We let you in because we thought you were a believer in the cause. I should feed you to the Thran war machines."
"I'm a believer in your lot being good watchin'." Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar held up a recipe for Rebel Ragoons. "We have a deal. I cook you meals and I get to stay here while you get cooked, keen?"
Radic scoffed. Her magic faded into the air around them. "Not worth the effort. Another useless aristocrat here to exploit our suffering."
"Hold it right there, mate, I'm no fancy woman. I'm of the people, same as you!"
"You're the Underworld Chef, right?" Radic eyed the cookbook. "Read your stuff cover to cover. What part of cooking fancy meals for demons sounds working class to you?"
"I make my livin' off those demons." The cook rolled her eyes. "My job isn't to help starving bleeding-hearts. It's to cook."
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar felt the searing pain of Radic's fist as her body slammed into the ground. Coughing up blood, she began to see double as the colonel picked her up by the collar and held her head above the trenches. Across the landscape she could see the Thran army's approach, along with a mechanized beast trudging across the fields.
"Those are the people that have stolen our crops, who've stomped down resistance with the boot of industry. You claim to be someone who provides, who sustains. Then why are you willing to let us die so some demon can scarf down your soup without thought?"
Radic tossed the cook to the ground, her body scratching against the rocks.
"We ride in one hour. Be there, or be gone."
Take all of the protein and vegetables that you can find. Emulsify until pure. Pour into a standard size dish. Instill with demonic rage.
Watch your enemies cower in fear.
Colonel Radic and her soldiers stood at the ready. The demonic beast roared, the sound piercing the minds of all who heard it. She rallied the infantry to prepare to fire at the monstrosity, a last ditch effort to ensure their forces did not breach the resistance in Shiv.
"We may fall today," spoke Radic in a hushed tone. "But we mustn't despair. We will die as the snarling face of determination that sparks dread in the Thran Empire!" She held her staff aloft, signaling the soldiers to fire.
Blazing shots rang out against the beast's armor. Nothing seemed to halt its stride. Radic attempted to conjure necrotic restraints to pin it in place, yet nothing seemed to hold. Of course. Whatever technology they'd been using to destroy her people's infrastructure was likely being applied here. Nothing her resistance had could stop the Thran's march of progress.
As she prepared to meet the embrace of death, a massive shadow eclipsed the Shivan soldiers. A beast so large it blotted out the sun arose from behind them, its form dwarfing even the Thran War Machines.
Its form dripped with a strange substance. A deep red that fell in chunks. Some of the soldiers cried out at the otherworldly creature. Radic stood confused, until a chunk of the strange substance landed on her shoulder. Dragging a finger through it, she brought it to her lips.
"It's a tomato sauce."
"It's a tomato sauce! You're dead, you Thran bastards!"
Atop the massive pasta golem stood Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. A whisk in one hand, she commanded that her creation move forward towards the Thran army. Each step shook the soldiers to their core as the two beasts approached each other.
"Oi, Thran army!" The young chef spoke through the golem, her words amplified by the magic which bound it together. "You listen to me. You're all gonna turn back now, or my friend 'ere is going to turn you all to mush. Got it?"
A few Thran yelled at her, their voices incomprehensible over the golem's breaths.
"Listen!" she shouted. "You either leave or become the final course. Your call."
The Thran creature began to reel back a flaming fist. Asmor's golem raised its guard, tanking each of the punches and sending pasta sauce splattering onto the battlefield.
Led by the chef, reborn in the oven of battle, the golem charged into the Thran's forces. Its fists pounded against the steel war machines, tearing apart their creations. She hadn't felt this zeal, this power, since she first became a chef.
This was better than any recipe, any meal, anything she'd ever cooked before.
The pasta golem picked up a Thran soldier in its hand and swallowed them in one bite. Her caloric creation lifted the war machine above its head, its muscles straining under the weight of Thran steel. But it did not buckle, it did not falter. A skilled chef knew had to handle a hot oven.
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar ripped the Thran beast in two, tossing its pieces to the side. The golem let out a triumphant roar, its bile spilling onto the now-retreating Thran forces. As the Shivan rebels exited their trenches, the chef glimpsed a smile on Colonel Radic's face.
She'd send anyone who stood in her way to the Underworld. This was her purpose. To change the world with her cooking.