Any time a number of the veteran evildoers get together and the subject of fine dining comes up, one particular menu item is mentioned more consistently than any other. But the pleasures of Procyonic reptoid is not far behind, owing partly to its storied reputation and with the daring monster gastronomes who have brought spectacle and drama to the execution of that one dish before virtual audiences of millions, both willing and unwilling. It was probably the beast-kings of α Canis Minoris G who first found that reptoid was to their liking eons ago, but the fad spread to human and humanoid explorers who came under their sway and from there to the spacefaring community at large, where it came to be identified with the dashing villainous lifestyle and the high-rolling ways associated with it. This delicacy has achieved a certain legitimacy owing to the efforts of the illustrious Grand Reptoid Society Gastronome and their traditional broadcasts from their sumptuous ice-shrouded headquarters carved into the volcanic heights of the Transarctic Mountain range.
- The season. 80% of the α Canis Minoris G year the reptoids are irredeemably and unpleasantly toxic, another 15% of the time they take on a rocklike consistency unsuitable for consumption, leaving only approximately 73 sols where they can be trapped, transported, and prepared for culinary uses. As this game lifeform is fabulously abundant to a fault, there are no limits on the number that one can obtain other than those of practicality.
- Capturing your reptoid. Gather up a force of between four and seven well-armed fighters trained in the arts of subduing eldritch monstrosities, then take to the high desert plateaus at a time when Procyon B is well below the horizon and the ammonia fountains are relatively quiescent, maintaining a strict silence. When sensors indicate a juvenile no more than 2.5 meters in diameter separated from the main group, approach it by stealth and contrive to apply an magnetic field across its distal end in order to scramble its main sensory cluster, then apply the coup de grace, making sure to avoid being predated yourselves. The drained carcass (separated from its primary venom sacs) should be transported to the kitchen within four standard hours at most.
- Dissection. The chef should be well versed in bioisolation measures and have a backup on hand to be safe. Using inert laboratory implements and under conditions of darkness, excise the large purplish structure immediately beneath the dermis of the creature’s underside and extract the sorbitic muscle cluster, which should be washed in alternating dilute acid and buffered hypotonic saline solutions. Once the mesenteric membranes have been detached, the remainder may be cut into steaks and seasoned with salt, lemon juice, and white pepper.
- Methods of preparation. Procyonic reptoid has traditionally been broiled in close proximity to a thermal neutron source, which brings out its bouquet. The chief problem is that of overcooking, however, which tends to lead to a large amount of waste, so some have experimented with marinating them with a sulfur-based chelate and braising them over magma vents instead. Attempts to adapt reptoid to sashimi have all been disastrous to date.
- Presentation. The dish is oxygen atmosphere-stable once completely cooked, which is when a simple savory glaze may be drizzled on top and a side dish of root vegetables and manioc is arranged on the (fluorocarbon) serving platter. Place settings are all to be equipped with the necessary implements to enjoy the dish. At the moment of serving, officials of the Grand Reptoid Society Gastronome always enjoy looping an immersive sensory holo of the taking of the specimen in the dining chamber for the enjoyment of the guests and bereaved.
Strokes of genius
- Preserved instead of fresh. These will do in a pinch and are the usual way that the general population is exposed to this delicacy, though no aspiring gourmet is likely to be associated with them. Containment technologies have improved in recent years and the likelihood of mishap is much less than the persistent reputation might indicate.
- Inclusions. Also known as “Forbush’s Bane.” These spiny mineral features are traditionally prized by the cognoscenti, who have been known to commission jewelers to incorporate “the best part” into settings of startling frankness. One should carefully cut around any encountered in one’s portion without disturbing the ganglia contained within by any means.
- Substitutes. Creative cooks have come up with a number of Mock Procyonic reptoid strategems which are often appropriate when planning a casual function outside the high season for the real thing. Some are based on conventional terrestrial protein technology, but the imports possess a superior reputation when obtained from reputable sources. Persons with sensitivities to the transition metals and exotic elements may wish to avoid all of these, however.
- Degrees of tenderness. Rare corresponds to a central absorbed dose of 250-500 milligrays, well-done starts in excess of 2500 milligrays.
Traps for mere fools
- Edged weapons. A number of notorious incidents have contributed to the belief that taking these along on a hunt is only for the foolhardy or ignorant.
- Containment breaches.
- Smugglers. The penalties are severe, permanent, and enforced by implacable spacefaring treaty agents implemented in hardware.
- Drug interactions. These cannot always be anticipated, even with blood and urine panels taken ahead of time, but the rule of thumb is to limit portion size for the first-time diner by 90% and maintain the individual under medical observation.
Precious and needful
- Hazmat gear.
- First aid supplies.
- Parsley. Either the flat Italian variety or the curly type will do.
- Bang sticks.
- Mizarian graviton-hounds. They whine too much once the catch the faintest scent of cooked reptoid.
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- Image credit Pretty Lizzy by Anua22a
- Image credit Copper Clump by subarcticmike
- Image credit John William Waterhouse: Magic Circle by freeparking
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