Delicacies, Part 1
a failing of my kind -- the long-lived, poke-our-noses-in-everything know-it-alls
some refer to as sages, and many call by far less pleasant names -- to
blithely mention this or that interesting observation and pass on, secure
in our knowledge (or conversely, far less than secure, but desiring others
not to know it -- hence the armored rush of our confidence). Cloaked in
my own serene wisdom, I sailed right through some mentions of viands in
my previous discourse that deserve further elucidation -- and of course
thinking of them occasioned other culinary notes. Let us then tarry over
that most important daily detail for most humans: "What shall I eat?
That? Well, what is it, and be it a safe reponse to my raging hunger?"
Quace: I spoke
of Delzmaer dining on "quace," without precisely identifying
what that is. So picture a roundish, slightly segmented fruit the size
of a large human male's palm or up to the size of his head. It looks rather
like a trodden-on pumpkin: round, but seldom more than six inches high
or thick at most. A quace is rose-pink when immature and veined with lime
green, and as it ripens becomes entirely green (like unto what some of
ye call a "honeydew melon"), but with its veins darkening just
enough to remain distinct from the rest of the rind.
grow plentifully on ground-clinging, crawling vines that like to shroud
and bury everything within reach (though they're easily snapped off by
humans), and are shaded by numerous clusters of broad, ragged-shaped sprouting
leaves. In the full heat of the day, these growths shade the fruit. If
water fails, they curl up and turn yellow, and the fruit shrivels to a
plum or brown hue. If water returns, they revive swiftly, where most other
parched fruit remain ruined.
have a tough, waxy, thick rind enclosing a soft, jellylike green flesh
that resists bruising. This flesh can be fried on a piece of rind (the
rind then being discarded), eaten raw, or pickled to keep it from spoilage.
It has a curiously sharp, cheesy flavor with a sweet aftertaste and quenches
the thirst. When crushed, quace usually yields abundant syrup (sugary
water). Fried quace takes on the flavor of whatever spiced oils it's fried
in and can thus be made very savory.
similar manner, pickled quace can be made to taste like almost anything,
from smoked eels to a minty sweet dessert. Every third or fourth elderly
Delzmaer of either gender takes pride in concocting their own specialties
or secret seasonings and selling the result from their awning-shaded,
shuttered windows or to street vendors.
grows wherever there's sun, water, and slopes (including in ruins and
wild over the roofs of some buildings in Delzimmer), but it is plentiful
in the nearby hills -- so much so that children and poor folk take handcarts
out of the city at dawn and bring them back in an hour or so laden with
fresh-picked quace for citizens to buy. (A copper coin typically buys
a "qrey," which is the Delzmaer name for a group of sixteen;
a '"qro" is eight.)
the previous Elminster Speaks
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