Whimsical and delightful. Imagine, if you will, setting foot in Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. What kind of cuisine do they eat? How do they make it using a woodburning stove? What kind of things do salt-of-the-earth dwarves like to eat? Wouldn't it be neat if you could make Butterbeer at home? Enter Farewell to Foie Gras.
FFG is set in the fantasy realm of Arduise (for some reason my brain tends to default to Middle Earth when I picture it) and is told from the perspective of Pandan Valdon, a scholar of epicure. He's like the Andrew Zimmerman of the world of Arduise and is documenting "intelligible kitchen practice." Amen. Valdon meanders to the four corners of the world and samples the cuisines, then shares recipes.
I have to admit, I am a nitpicker of the Tolkien variety for detail when it comes to world building. And FFG delivers in spades. Even better, it reads like a fantasy cookbook but is actually a real cookbook in disguise, with recipes ready for the kitchen. So far I've tried making the Effervescent Ginger Brew, Spiced Chicken Parcels in red sauce, and yes, the Dwarven Frycoating. My favorite recipes are from the mythic land of Waarhuise, especially the Spoon Cream with Cinnamon. I can't get over the D&D-fication of recipes. Freaking fun. If all cookbooks had quirky stories describing the origin of the dish, an amusing rundown of how to cook it with both primitive and modern kitchens, as well as a taster's impression of it, I would actually cook more. As a lazy nerd, I am often heavy on the food porn ogling and less so of the actual execution of recipes in the kitchen. These I actually went out and tried. The food was quirky and tasty just like any new cuisine would be, but geek-friendly enough for a lazy nerd to make. I still can't get over how very fun it is to combine a fantasy setting with a cookbook and see what you get. A cookbook that you can read like a novel!
My hangup with this book is largely from a design perspective. The cover you see here previewed is not on the actual PDF book itself. I had a sad because I love ink illustrations and was sorely surprised to see copyright page as the cover instead. Then again, I ended up getting food stains on said copyright page so it's all good. At times Pandan Valdon sounds a little too formal and uses a lot of buffer words, making the text a bit denser than your average cookbook, but lighter than your D&D Player's Handbook. When I get bogged down by the details I make a quick flip to the "modern recipe," make the dish, then read the back story and smile to myself while I eat.
I swear, I'm dead pleased to have a cookbook that features a dish called "Roasted Wyvern" with instructions to "Scale, gut and clean a wyvern chick or simply scale and clean a wyvern flank." The modern recipe follows, "while wyerns are a bit hard to track down in the real world, one can approximate the experience of the exotic meat by using this turkey treated with special brine." I can't get over how fun and imaginative this nerdy cookbook is.