Monday, February 3, 2014

The Iron Ration, Magic Cheese, and Hardtack Adventure Cooking

(I'm too self-important to take part in the various blog roll things, so here's something I finagled whilst my daughter rejected my mango-based overtures and then fell asleep on my chest)

Disclosure: In my previous multiclass advancements, my career was "cook", and although I don't cook professionally anymore I still dig food scholarship.  I'm the exact opposite of a "foodie", though.  I like to know a lot about cooking but my favorite foods are ones that other people cook.  I just had to destroy my entire kitchen pantry owing to infestation by either Oat Beetles or Flour Mites, or maybe gremlins, so I am thinking of food value and preservation against spoilage, lately.  Coincidentally, exploration in the Iron Canyons of +Dave Younce and play in +Evan Lindsey 's entry to the ASE got me thinking about what to eat and when, when you are hacking and slashing in your favorite fantasy world.  Frodo and Sam had Lembas, and Gollum had fish raw-and-wriggling but,
These are actual pictures of the bugs in my kitchen pantry
What does a party of murderhobos (STOUTFELLAS?) eat if they are going to spend the night in the deep, dark damp of a megadungeon?  Why, the classic Iron Ration, of course!  But what the heck is an Iron Ration?  I vaguely remember that this question used to course like Greek Fire through the letter pages of Dragon when I was a kid and I am sure it put an end to many friendships.  Not mine, my ended friendships were usually over politics or girls or magic shields.

finished polishing their pickelhaubs, the kaiser's men repose

I may be giving out misinfo, here, but it looks like the Iron Ration was an actual steel or tin can, sometimes full of cakes of beef-paste-enhanced wheat paste, and maybe a couple of cigarettes and a chocolate bar.  A brick of dehydrated super-dense bread was common, too.  As a bonus, in earlier days you could have opted to boil your hardtack in your coffee, and either kept the maggots that floated out and eaten them or discarded them - as you prefer.  As a bonus bonus, if you have intestinal parasites, eating a couple of cigarettes might stun them long enough for you to expel them the old fashioned way without recourse to a cleric.  Ahh, the things you learn on historical tours and via your collection of Army Survival Training guides.

Many of the historical cooking links for the ancient world and middle and ye darke ages have vanished like tears in the rain, but there are good ones every so often.  Thanks to the black hole of Wikipedia for the following:

This here for the distinctly American horror story of famine and failed logistics during a very trying period.  Bonus words:

  1. Skillygallee - fry your wet brick of wheat paste in some bacon fat, soldier!
  2. Coosh - the same, except it's like cornmeal mush and beef jerky hash
  3. the X-ration? - mentioned in the military annals but my attention span falters and I can only assume it was reserved for supersoldiers

Roman Soldiers carried their own mess kits AND rations

I was gonna put up a Hardtack recipe, or maybe a Lembas recipe, but you don't want to eat any of that stuff, real or imagined.

Whoops!  I didn't realize this was gauche
I hate elves.  Did I mention this?

Instead, you are geased to try these links for much cheese-based magical eatery and Wampus Country cheese magic and of course a bevy of magical ingredients for your consumption

(BTW I purchased the PDF of the Anomalous Subsurface Environment at - good stuff, and for bonus points get you the Obelisk of Forgotten Memory which is also great... going to need to wait for ASE2, though)

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