By George “Loki” Williams
The author would like to thank Smu Anonymous, Eric Collins, David Shepheard, and Dreamer from the Spelljammer Mailing List, who contributed some of the dishes and ideas in this article.
Well my Lord Finn, what will it be this evening? Would you fancy a nice juicy scavver steak marinated in Anadian butter and served with alight starfruit glaze?No? In that case might I recommend a house specialty, the baby puffer in garlic sauce? It’s a favorite of Elrohir Amroth, Captain of the Hanali’s Sword. – Dunia, serving girl at The White Galleon, Rock of Bral
“I’ll bet I know how Celestian began his travels. He went somewhere once and discovered how wonderfully different food could be. Everywhere you go cooking is different. That’s why you will find the finest gourmands and gourmets here in The Burrows. No one has a finer appreciation of food than the halfling race, and here on the Rock we get to indulge. Everyone in the Arcane Inner Flow comes through the Rock sooner or later bringing new spices, ingredients and recipes with them. Here, try this delightful caviar I just had shipped in from Chandos.“ – Meredyn Sandyfoot (Underbaron of Bral) to Kaolin Moly Mu (a founder of House Seven Stars and Priestess of The Wandering God) over fine ale and a good pipe.
Part of the joy, and sometimes the unease, of traveling is the food you encounter. In this first of a series of article providing atmospheric details for DM’s I will share some of the standard fare characters in my Spelljammer games have come to expect.
Come and dine with us. From Rat On a Stick and raw chattur with the Scro to the expensive and dangerous Baby Puffer in Garlic Sauce served at the White Galleon on Bral. If you are lucky you might get some cooking tips as well!
Whether on Lirak’s Cube or the Rock of Bral, there are many common dishes made from the flora and fauna native to surrounding wildspace. Here are a few favorites:
Kindori Steaks — Whaling ships hunting Kindori are a not uncommon sight in many spheres. The oil, leather and ivory generate a lot of revenue. The meat is a staple in many wildspace communities. Much of the meat in the average spacehand’s diet is either Kindori or scavver, with Kindori being preferred for flavor. When you see a steak of unspecified type at a Wildspace establishment it is most often Kindori.
Scavver Tartar — Freshness is always an issue in wildspace, and freshness is very important when serving raw meat. It takes great skill to prepare (Profession (cook) DC 18) and if not done properly can cause illness several hours later (1d6 hours). If poorly prepared it acts as a poison and makes whoever ate it suffer from nausea for several hours (-2 to all ability and skill checks for 1d6 hours). Shortly after the nausea sets in their vitality is reduced (1d4 points of temporary constitution damage the following hour). Some people are able to shrug of one or both of these effects (Fortitude Save DC 18 to avoid each effect).
The most common version of this dish features raw night scavver served in a spicy vinegar sauce, if available, halfling bread is served with it. This is a traditional meal for spacers returning from highly profitable ventures as well as those simply trying to impress. The White Galleon on the Rock of Bral is famed throughout nearby spheres for its version of this dish. A cheaper version of this dish made with raw grey scavver is made for poorer spacers (same DC as dishes with night scavver for both checks). Brown scavver meat is so poisonous that it is deadly if not cooked and cannot be used in Scavver Tartar.
Space Swine — The comical Dohwar have actually added much to spacefaring culture, believe it or not. These avian traders introduced space swine to the Arcane Inner Flow. Said by groundlings to taste like a tougher version of groundling boar. The most common ways of preparing it include slow baked and served with apple sauce (when available); “dohwar bacon”, and of course swine chops!
Baby Puffer in Garlic Sauce — A dish taken to its pinnacle at Bral’s White Galleon. This dish is quite rare, and considered a delicacy. The baby puffer’s stinger and venom sac must be removed prior to cooking (Profession (cook) DC 20) or the toxin contaminates the dish. This is a fairly difficult process, so there are certain risks taken in eating the dish, as the poison is lethal. (Fort Save DC 17 for 1d6 Con Ability Damage instead) – Based on an idea by smu anonymous
Starfruit — Sweet, succulent, and highly nourishing, the fruit of the starfly plant is deemed good luck by spacers. When fully ripe they have a robust sweetness with a citrus like tang to it. Found infrequently floating in Wildspace it is greeted with high spirits when found. The only spacefaring race known that does not see it as a symbol of good luck is the scro, probably due to its association with elves. It is served amongst the void elves on a regular basis and is a staple trade good for the Sindiath Line. It is rumored that the elves grow their unique ships from the same plant.
Fried Zard On A Stick — The tiny, voracious reptiles are extremely tasty. Hunted down as dangerous pests whenever found, they are then sold as a delicacy. There are many ways of preparing it ranging from the lightly paneed version found on Lirak’s cube to the infamous Fried Zard On A Stick. Commonly seen at celebrations and festivals throughout wildspace. Cooked in a vat of boiling kindori grease, fried zard is tasty, fatty, and completely without nutritional merit– perfect carnival food. By smu anonymous
Slinker Meat — What chicken is to groundlings, slinker is to the spacefarers. Slinkers breed unbelievably quickly, are capable of living in cramped quarters in large numbers and do not carry diseases. The downside though, is that they also have exceptional metabolisms, consuming vast quantities of air and food. The usual reaction to a slinker infestation is extermination of the pests. Practicality is a watchword to those who ply the spacelanes, so exterminated slinkers have become a staple source of meat. Slinker farms have even cropped up in some spheres. Slinker farms are almost universally located on isolated asteroids covered in infinity vine. The vine provides both food and air for the prolific slinkers, both rapidly and free of charge. When harvesting the slinkers, care must be taken so as to prevent bringing live members of either species (slinker or vine) on board the transport ship. Some places, such as Unipaxala in Spiralspace, will not accept shipments from these farms due to fear of contamination. Based on an idea by smu anonymous
Cured Starsalmon — Cooked at low heat and dried to a jerky-like consistency, these chewy pink strips are popular among seasoned spacehands for long trips. Like other dried meats they keep very well and provide a lot of nutrition, even though they tend to be very salty. Many spacefarers have their own “secret recipe,” with which they will not part.
Infinity Bread — Only slightly more palatable than raw infinity vine this bread has an exceptional (seemingly infinite) shelf life. Loaves have been found in perfect condition on ships believed to have been lost for centuries. The bread is relatively easy to make but the entire operation has to be kept dark to prevent vine growth. Based on an idea by smu anonymous
Jettison Stew — The staple of Lowtown Bral’s poor. Basically a pot filled with water and whatever else can be found to make a soup.
Krajen Calamari — Lightly breaded and then usually fried and served with a sprinkling of lemon, the tentacle meat of the krajen is considered good eating in many parts of wildspace. It is considered to be at its best when made from immature krajenCaveat Emptor: Some places have been known to serve this dish using Illithid tentacle meat instead of Krajen. Consuming this version is not only illega in most places, but also alters one’s aura in a way easily detectable by illithids (Perception check DC 12 +1/day since eating the dish). It also leaves the consumer susceptible to psionics (-2 to all saves vs. psionic effects until spot DC reaches 16, -1 until it reaches 20). This can lead to a very uncomfortable shore leave. Based on an idea by smu anonymous
Mortiss Stew — Mortiss meat is tough, so to be edible it must be cooked in a stew for at least 24 hours. After this point it is fairly edible and nutritious, with different flavors depending on what type of substance the mortiss was attatched to. Based on an idea by smu anonymous
Smaller spacefaring communities often count food as their greatest import. Here are a few examples of groundling dishes or ingredients that may be encountered.
Fried Purple Worm — Purple worm flesh is cut into strips, dipped in milk, then flour, then deep fried in animal fat until crisp. Usually served with fried potatoes and stuffed mushrooms. By Eric Collins
Fried Pickled Troll Gizzards — Troll Gizzards are grilled shortly after removal then kept in vinegar for up to a year (much past that, and it doesn’t taste good) and then fried. Tastes a lot like chicken, only much bigger. As this is the flesh of a sentient being, this dish is only found among communities of evil creatures. Based on an idea by Eric Collins
Chandos Fish Caviar — The roe of the Chandos fish is a delicacy amongst the wealthy of Bral, Lirak’s Cube and other wildspace outposts. Expensively shipped in sealed containers with gentle repose spells cast on them to ensure freshness, they are found on the dining tables of people as diverse as Diadan Cartan on Bral, and Bruin Shambrath of Greatspace (see the Spelljammer adventure SJA3 – Crystal Spheres, by J. Paul LaFountain for more information on Bruin Shambrath and Greatspace)
Radolian Steelback Beetle Steaks — The meat from this 20′ long beetle is tasty and light. Much like the white meat of a bird, with a surprisingly non-gamey taste. A popular import due to its nutritive value as well as the sheer size of the steaks produced.
There are many races that travel Wildspace, and each has it’s own idea of what constitutes a hearty meal. Here are a few things that constitute “home cooking'” for the various spelljamming races.
The void elves are renowned for their delicate and artful approach to things culinary. While the majority of their dishes are vegetarian in nature, there are a few involving meat. It is common knowledge that the one topic of conversation elves will actively engage giff in (besides military actions) is salads.
Edillian Skykine — Found at many EIN gatherings, the flesh of the Skykine of Edill (Greyspace) is the primary food animal of the dragons that live there. It is exported only to EIN or Sindiath Line customers, and that infrequently. A pale, amber colored meat it’s taste has been described as delicate, resembling a mild groundling whitefish. It is a staple at EIN diplomatic functions, usually paired with Feywine.
Quinpah – a light, flaky honey pastry with a soft, buttery interior. This traditional dish is a staple dessert at elven officers’ galleys. Adapted from “The Radiant Dragon” by Elaine Cunningham.
These huge mercenaries are vegetarian by nature and will happily consume a wide variety of plant matter, including straw when desperate. Being a race that has long ago lost its home sphere, they have little in the way of cultural cooking traditions besides yaneesh.
Yaneesh — A giff staple. It is made from a mixture of bitter herbs and woody plant matter, which must be buried in moist ground to “cure,” for not less than 3 standard months. The resultant tofu-like substance is used as the base for a thick chutney like sauce served over leaves and noodles. Yaneesh has been found to be universally toxic to all non-giff species (Fort Save DC 22; Dam 1d4 Con + Nauseated, Secondary Dam 1d4 Con) There are tales that members of House Seven Stars on the Rock of Bral have been seen eating Yaneesh and then immediately consuming alchemical antitoxins to counteract it. Word on the streets is that it is a macho thing started by their giff Master At Arms, Ozzy.
The Hadozee and Grommam
While it is commonly thought that Grommspace (http://spelljammer.org/worlds/Grommspace/ ) has no real natural resources, the number of hadozee and grommam traveling the stars has made foodstuffs from their home world a commodity. The following dishes originate in the primeval jungle paradise of Gaya and are favorites among both of the spacefaring races that call her home.
Balaya — Hadozee nomads make these self contained rations out of bird meat stuffed with the fruit of the Banya tree and Kintu nuts which is then wrapped in sweet tasting edible leaves. Their spacefaring brethren have adapted the recipe to use slinker meat as well as using local nuts and leaves when necessary. It is a common complaint (and we all know how hadozee love to complain in their off time) that “it’s just not the frelling same without proper frelling Kintu nuts!”
Steamed Banya Fruit — A Grommish standard. The large purple fruit of the Banya tree look like massive eggplants, but taste similar to bananas. Usually served steamed and served with a spiced sauce made from the milk of the Otoro (a native species similar to a wild pig). The Banya fruit fetch a high price from off world Grommam, when they can get a hold of them.
Kafila — These thick fruit are used as bowls for Grommish meals. Their exact composition varies from community to community. Usually the kafila fruit is carved out in a bowl shape and then battered and fried.
Jutuboa — Pickled grubs found in the Orim trees of Gaya’s jungle zones. They keep for a long time and are very nutritious. A favorite among the nomadic clans of hadozee that inhabit the jungle tops. Although the grubs taste nice to hadozee, grommams, most insect races, scalykind races and most aberrations they taste disgusting to most other races. Any other race that tries them must make a Fort Save (DC 16) or vomit them up immediately. Any member of these races who consumes them only needs to eat once a day. Rarely seen off Gaya, although the EIN seems to keep them stocked up on ships that carry Hadozee Oathpacks.
Tashrooms — Brilliant orange mushrooms about six feet across. These are poisonous until baked. Often filled with a combination of herbs, nuts, meat, and peppers that are finely ground. These are only served at Grommish religious ceremonies, venerating either Kong (their overgod) or one of the Demigods that lives amongst them. The accompanying homily is usually a long commmentary on how Kong has given the Gromm the fruits of nature as his first gift, and the intelligence to make use of them safely as his second gift. Tashrooms are usually sprinkled with holy water while baking. Needless to say, few have been seen outside of Grommspace.
Known throughout wildspace as crafters of flesh, it is not surprising that the xixchill modify some of their preferred food animals for better palatability. There is a persistent rumor going around many ports that the brown scavver was a failed Xixchill food flavoring experiment.
Antrakt’kts — Whatever natural form these small mammals once may have had has been lost through centuries of modification. Their current forms vary widely and are a favorite snack food. Much as with other chefs, xixchill continually try to outdo each other at producing the most interesting dishes. Their approach, however, involves modifying the antrakt’kts bodies to make them taste more interesting. Mostly served as squab sized dishes presented in a competitive setting, the recipes and modifications are always exotic and only rarely poisonous to non-insects.
Isopterite Gizzards — Preferred as fresh as possible, the Xixchil eat them raw with a nutty tasting sauce made from ground ticks.
Rot Grubs — Rot grubs are considered a delicacy by the Xixchill (who are also immune to them due to a quirk of biochemistry). They are usually illegal and very expensive as few wish to transport such creatures. A favorite for modification, rot grubs are altered into a variety of forms. These range from huge variants that can reach three feet in length to tiny multicolored ones that are intoxicating to insect races.
The Lizard Folk
The lizard folk, or Scalykind as they refer to themselves, tend toward simple dishes, which almost always involve meat or fish. They are far less picky about the freshness of their food than many races and can subsist on that which is deemed inedible by many demihumans and humanoids.
Threesh — Whitefish cooked in folded beshtai leaves and served with a sour tasting dipping sauce of fermented roe. A favorite of lizard folk throughout wildspace
Being herd creatures by nature, the dracon view meals as a communal experience. They gather in groups and eat from common bowls, many of which are elaborate works of art in themselves. Dracon dining has a ritualistic feel to it and seems very formal to non-dracon.
Daribba — A generic term for a wide variety of salads made by the Dracon. The flavors are rarely palatable to most races, although some elves and Giff (who are vegetarian to begin with) say that they enjoy its subtle flavors. To all others the predominant taste is described as, “slightly blander and less appetizing than straw.” Usually served in a large, decorated Daribba Bowl for communal eating.
Gnomes in wildspace come in two varieties; Minoi (Tinker Gnomes), and Gnomoi (Ordinary Gnomes). Contrary to poular belief, gnomoi do not like minoi food any more than humans or halflings do. They even tend to get huffy when offered spaham fritters in good will..
Spaham — Field rations of the minoi. The meat from giant space hamsters is “processed,” and extruded into small blocks. Usually found in sealed tin containers with long and improbable recipes inscribed in gnomish on their surfaces. Commonly considered to be the absolute last resort by any other than Tinker Gnomes.
These intelligent and organized “space orcs” actually have finely developed culinary skills, especially when compared to the average goblinkin. Their choice of ingredients tends towards the unpleasant but there is no denying the skill with which these dishes are prepared.
Delphinid Hearts — Among the scro, delphinid hearts are a delicacy. Served extremely rare with a variety of dipping sauces running the gamut from spicy to sweet or sour. There are usually no less than four dipping sauces with each serving. Scro formal occasions have been known to have ten or twelve.
Roast Greatswan — The scro enjoy eating the “servant races,” of their elven enemies almost as much as elven flesh itself. Roasted greatswan is served with a thick berry based sauce or a wine and blood marinade.
The Liver of Mine Enemy — The scro do not just rant about tasting elven flesh, they also eat it. The liver is considered the “choice cut,” second only to the heart itself. Usually it is marinated overnight in Ale (the best available), before being diced and stir-fried with sharp tasting vegetables. It is considered best to find the cutlery and plates of the elves that about to be consumed and use them when serving the meal.
While their exclusive diet of brains would seem to preclude having recipes, the illithidae are connoisseurs and have found ways to change their dining experience for the better. Since performance eating is one of their cultural artforms, it was in that arena that spice elixirs were first developed.
The flavors and sensations gained from eating a brain treated with the spices are shared with the audience telepathically.
Illithid Spice Elixirs — Even the mind flayers tire of bland food. These elixirs were developed to simply change the taste of the brain being consumed, much like other races use spices. These are consumed by the “meal,” approx. 4-6 hours prior to the mind flayer eating the creature’s brain. Due to the fact that most illithid meals are willing thralls, they do so willingly.
There are a variety of elixirs, which create a variety of effects. A fear or hope elixir is used for boosting the flavor of food that had given up the will to live. A wisdom or intelligence boosting elixir makes the food taste stronger. A constitution boosting elixir gives the physical brain a thicker texture. (None of these effects are strong enough to provide bonuses for the abilities listed.)
So there you have it, a smorgasboard of dining found in the Arcane Inner Flow, happy dining!
May Celestian Speed Your Way!
-George “Loki” Williams