The aroma of spices tingled my nose, the heat of the flames warming my skin as I look at the food in front of me. Filled with hope and determination I take a bite of my freshly made delicacy. It tastes like… disappointment. “Another failure. Tastes like any other old meal.” I complain loudly, hoping any of the Twelve might listen. For months now I have been labouring to improve my dishes, but nothing I do results in the quality I yearn to create, something that’s worthy of being cooked in the likes of the Bismarck. My food is not bad by all means, however just being good does not cut it. I wander around the kitchen, pondering what I could do, mulling over my options. If my cooking is good as it is, I need something else to improve. The ingredients! You can’t cook a delicacy without the fresh, secret ingredient and what is fresher than a fish caught straight out of La Noscea’s beautiful blue sea. Reinvigorated by my plan, I pack my fishing gear and set out to the coast of La Noscea.
The sun sits high, sparkling off the sky coloured ocean. I sit at the coast, my gear wildly splayed around me, watching the lure bob on the water. It does not take long to catch my first few fishes. “Too small”, I mumble as I toss the fish back into the water. “Too skinny”… “Not tasty”… Catch, toss, catch, “hey, my lure!” and so on, it continues for several hours, but a fisher mustn’t be impatient.
The sky now reddens as it slowly descends under the horizon and the last bait got ribbed from me. Head hung low in defeat, I make my way back home.
“Since getting that fresh fish failed, I need a different approach”, I explain to my chocobo as if we were having a conversation, “something exotic! I hope your feathers hold up in the cold.” Thus I am on my way to the next destination, the plains of Coerthas, to find and hunt animals. They don’t need to be rare, as long as they only live in the Highlands, their meat surely will seem exotic in other areas of Eorzea.
After preparing traps around the area, I set up camp to wait and keep myself warm. Evident by the chattering of my teeth I struggle a lot more with the cold than my chocobo. Feeling enough time has passed, I begin to check my traps. Passing a few empty ones, I find my first catch, a Karakul. I approach the trap and tie the sheep by its legs. It looks at me with its little, black eyes. I pause for a moment. Shaking myself out of my daze, I bring the bound sheep back to the camp, lay it down and prepare a dagger. Grabbing it by its dark, fluffy wool, I position the it and ready the knife. I look into the little dots that are its eyes, pleading me. I swing… and let the dagger drop. “I can’t”, I cry out in frustration. I untie the little sheep. It promptly headbutts me into the snow. Fair.
With another unsuccessful venture I’m right back where I started. If I can’t improve my ingredients myself, there is only option left… to ask for help, I admit to myself.
Thus I prepare the best dish I can, using the best ingredients I have available, pouring all my effort into it and bring it to the place I’ve been wanting to from the start. The Bismarck.
“Please, I want to become a cook worthy of this restaurant. Tell me what I can improve in my cooking. I’ve tried every secret ingredient I could think of, but nothing comes close.”
The cook that accepted my plea, takes my meal and looks thoroughly over it. He tastes it with the same seriousness.
“Hmm…”, my heart beats fast, “… This is not bad, but you’re overdoing it. You know what our secret ingredients are? Good fundamentals are the key to a good meal and… ”
The simplicity of the answer leaves me speechless, as I listen to the rest of the cook’s lecture. “Thank you”, I say exhausted but relieved.
Story by @Rhika_Kaatah