Elminster Speaks

(Part #41) : Delzemaeran Delicacies, Part 3

A last look at foodstuffs before we glance around at some recent news and local intrigues and then take our leave of Delzimmer. Indulge me, an old man who likes his tarryings at tables -- but indulge yourselves far more, readers! What I write of is, as they say, "fair on the tongue."

Sakra and Mlael: I made mention in an earlier discourse of the local hot brown sauces. Specifically, these are of two sorts: sacra and mlael. Sakra is a fiery, brown gravy made with beast blood and boiled-down organs that are mixed with mushrooms and quace root to color and thicken it. Mlael is a boiled mixture of herbs, spices, and edible roots that holds no remnant of any creature. Both tend to be lumpy, thick brown liquids that taste filling and even sensational (depending on the cook and available ingredients). Sakra tends to be hotter, less gluelike, and more variable in taste, and is the more often slaked (laced with strong drink, sometimes covertly but more often as a selling point or deed of pride). Mlael is a subtler blend of herbs and spices and can be simmered for days, during which it is augmented by additional ingredients as they become available.

The base of a good mlael is almost always chopped surt and diced chasstil. Surt is a bulbous root that ye might consider a strong-flavored, oversized cousin of what's often called Jerusalem artichoke. Chasstil is a durable, coil-shaped, green, spear-bodied plant fairly close in flavor to thy asparagus.

At any time, most Delzmaer households have mlael on the simmer or about to be made for ladling over almost every meal. Sakra appears on platters handed to guests or at the main evening meal. Visitors are warned that Delzmaer who sip much wine whilst they eat skewers of fried meats under the stars on summer evenings are taking in as much drink in the sakra gravy as in their goblets.

Some Delzmaer dishes even use both mlael and sakra, usually with mlael covering everything first and then a thin overwash of sakra over a central dish.

Braskh: One of the things that makes sakra hot is this crimson-skinned, white-fleshed root akin to your horseradish. 'Tis a brave person who can eat it raw or even in large chunks after boiling. Most folk taste it only in sakr, or as a few grated flakes added to the water that will boil vegetables in a Delzmaeran solaut (many-legged hearth cauldron). Carved stars of braskh are sometimes floated in drinkables served at Delzmaer feasts or by healers. Those who chew such stars invariably burst into tears, sweat profusely, and run out at the nose and mouth, as the violent heat of the root purges them. (If chewed and swallowed, it warms the body. If swallowed whole, it has a strong laxative effect.)

Braskh roots grow wild in areas of thorny bushes and rocks and are usually gathered by Delzmaer youths digging with hand tocks (short-handled mattocks), who sell them in the city at a copper per goodly root (or two small ones).

Now, having fed, 'tis high time to listen to local gossip, before we move on. 'Tis how I acquired most of my vaunted wisdom, look ye!

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