Therole-playing game isn't just about battling orcs and surviving a dragon's fiery wrath. The popular fantasy game also has plenty of moments where heroes need to relax and have a tasty meal.
D&D gamers can make many fantasy-based dishes in real life thanks to author Kyle Newman's new cookbook Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook (co-written by Michael Witwer and Jon Peterson). Newman knows a thing or two about the D&D world. He previously co-wrote D&D history book Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana.
Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook has plenty of dishes that would satisfy even the most ravenous elves. Choose from dishes like Drow Mushroom Steaks, Elven Bread, and Arkhan the Cruel's Flame-Roasted Halfling Chili, to name a few.
There's even a section dedicated completely to elixirs and ales. Thirsty for a Chultan Zombie? Or maybe take your chances with the absinthe-based cocktail called Rollrum?
I chatted with co-author Kyle Newman about the inspiration behind his cookbook, his favorite recipes and why food is so important in D&D adventures.
Q: What inspired you to write a cookbook inspired by Dungeons & Dragons?
A: My fellow co-authors -- Michael Witwer and Jon Peterson -- and I were wrapping up my other book Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana and our publisher approached us about the idea. We started going back and forth about all of the things this book could be and ultimately all of the ways that food can enhance the D&D experience -- after all, they're both tabletop activities; both communal and social and promote connection. The challenge of exploring the details and delicacies of the massive D&D multiverse was right up our alley.
What kind of research did you do to write the cookbook?
We scoured 45 years of D&D product (source books, modules, novels, comics) to find every notable dish and then evaluated and curated each for viability. We also conducted an extensive study of each D&D fantasy culture, such as elves, dwarves, and halflings, and worked to define details such as common ingredients, palate, etiquette, and so on.
We had to look at this from both an in-universe perspective as well from our own point of view to ensure that we were presenting a robust, balanced, forward-thinking selection of dishes that are both tasty as well as narratively and historically accurate, representing the varied tastes and traditions of the major cultures -- human, elven, dwarven and halfling.
What was your favorite food recipe from your cookbook?
The Pan-Fried Knucklehead Trout recipe is quite delicious, the Stuffed Egg-Battered Toast is an indulgent French toast-style dish that's perfectly suited for a halfling's breakfast nook. The Sembian Honey-Glazed Rothe Ribs, the Moonshae Seafood Rice, the Meal's End (a fantasy interpretation of an Eton Mess with chocolate meringue) all make me hungry just thinking about them.
Does an elf have different tastes than an elf or an orc?
We spent a great deal of time exploring the palates of the varied fantasy cultures. With elves, presentation and etiquette are paramount, and their food is every bit as elegant and graceful as its preparers and consumers. Hand-carved tables adorned with bowls made of marble, gold, and silver set the stage for a visual (and literal) feast of fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses, and occasional meats -- a dream-like display. The foods they favor are usually light, fresh, and wholesome.
Elves generally avoid preservatives and prefer fiber to fat; citrus to salt; and sweet to spicy. Even their iron rations, known as "quith-pa," are made up entirely of dried fruits. Because they put such a strong value on life, a high percentage of elves stringently exercise food restrictions, and a great many would fall into the category of vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian. We apply this level of detail across the board, touching upon regional differences as well as holidays and ceremonies.
Why is it that food is just as important to quests as weapons in Dungeons & Dragons?
As a player, I remember the epic battles as much as the bread breaking. Rests are when dining and memorable role-play occur in the game, so they work very well together. D&D is all about detail and immersion and cuisine provides another vital layer of immersion. I can't wait to see how fans incorporate these dishes into their tabletop games. True to the home-brew spirit of D&D itself, we encourage you to customize these recipes for the occasion or the campaign.