Recreated from A Time of Dread by John Gwynne
Riv sat in her barrack's feast-hall, picking at a plate of boar ribs and sweet parsnips. Jost and Vald were with her, sitting beside each other. At any other time the sight of them would have made her chuckle
'Don't want that? I'll finish it for you,' Vald said, eyeing up her plate
'Have it,' Riv said, pushing her unfinished food towards Vald.
'I'd have had that!' Jost exclaimed, eyes bulging in his gaunt face. He ate almost as much as Vald, not that you'd know it to look at him, the two of them often arguing over food.
'Too slow.' Vald winked at Jost.
John Gwynne's feast-halls play host to some hearty fantasy staples. 'A Time of Dread' features steaming tea, warming porridge, tender meats, melting onions, sweet vegetables and thick gravies. There's even a dog's dinner – a well-earned restorative for the brave hound – that sounds fit for the table of any fantasy food fan. You'll find it listed here along with the rest of the book's victuals.
Of the various meats mentioned, I've gone for the ribs (pork, from the butcher's rather than from a wild boar I've speared myself) and slathered them in a honey glaze. Honey is one of the book's recurring ingredients, eaten for medicinal purposes as well as pleasure. In light of that, let's raise a horn of mead to this healthy meal and argue over who gets to pick the bones clean for some extra goodness.
This is a dish best cooked 'low and slow' so leave time for up to four hours in the oven.
Ingredients (serves 2)
The ribs themselves:
Six ribs, appr. 700g
Salt and pepper to season
For the glaze:
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar*
1 tsp paprika
*any vinegar will do as an alternative
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
For the ribs:
To serve: I served with carrots roasted in the same way and at the same time as the parsnips, as well as some steamed Swiss chard. The best addition, however, was some blue cheese – perfect for breaking up the sweetness of the honey and parsnips.
Inspired by C. Robert Cargill's Sea of Rust
My name is Brittle. Factory designation HS8795-73. A Simulacrum Model Caregiver. But I like Brittle.
Robots don’t eat, but Sea of Rust is still peppered with the figurative food of everyday speech and memories of food from former times. It’s not a world where what we humans eat is significant, but there are still food-inspired verbs like ‘sandwiched’ and ‘pancaked’; there are food-based endearments like ‘honey’ and ‘peach’; you can still ‘have beef’ or ‘go nuts’; heavy things drop ‘like a sack of potatoes’ and sharp knives still cut like ‘a knife through warm butter’.
While none of these a meal make, our robot protagonist with the cracking name gave me a way in. My imitation cover art is peanut brittle with extra nuts, strawberry (jam) and peach – all flavours you’ll find mentioned in the book.
Once recreated, smash it up and devour the parts like your life depends on it.
Special equipment: foil-lined baking parchment for the mould, a book, a jam thermometer (optional), a wooden spoon for stirring, a pastry brush for decorating
If you enjoy working with sugar at speed, try my honeycomb inspired by John Gwynne's Malice.
If you want peanuts in a savoury dish, try the Kung Pao chicken recreated from Sylvain Neuvel's Sleeping Giants.