Food is an indispensable part of life. But it is chefs that transform it into delicious works of art.
Have you ever wondered how these culinary artists polish their skills? I traveled to the Culinarians' Guild in Windurst Waters to find out.
While I was waiting in front of the guild, a Tarutaru named Rukah and an Elvaan named Pharis approached. They hesitated when I told them what I was looking for, saying that neither of them had any experience as a chef.
I believe it was more than a chance encounter, for when I suggested that they try their hands at the culinary arts, they looked at each other and nodded.
They mustered their courage and entered the guild for the first time, deciding that their first challenge would be a simple dish: grilled hare.
After consulting with experienced craftsmen, they took up fire crystals and focused hard on the finished product. The air was soon filled with the aroma of grilled hare. The two slices of meat represented their first steps into a larger world.
"Delicious," they said in unison.
Smiling ear to ear, they partook of their handiwork. To the outside observer, the food was not worthy of note, but to Rukah and Pharis, it was the best meal they'd ever eaten. Encouraged by their first taste of success, they spoke of a sudden desire to continue their studies.
"I'm going to be a master chef!" said Rukah with pride.
"I want to enter battle strengthened by a meat mithkabob that I made myself," said Pharis as she savored the last bite of her grilled hare.
Whatever the skill, mastery requires a great deal of time and practice. But the reward is a taste of the satisfaction and joy known only to those who make the attempt. I wish them only the best as they begin their journey.
The next to visit the guild was Tsukito, who has attained the rank of artisan in the guild. When I asked him about his love of cooking, he began by expounding upon the importance of ingredients.
Tsukito has spent a great deal of time gathering ingredients since he reached the rank of amateur. With the beastmen growing in power and seizing control of more and more territory, specialty goods have grown scarcer. Sometimes he might be required to travel around the world just to gather ingredients for a single dish. But the thought of people smiling as they enjoy his food keeps Tsukito going.
After I finished speaking to Tsukito, I sat down on a bench in front of the guild where other guild members had gathered to chat.
Gallve was a very imaginative person who talked about his own original recipes. Listening intently beside him was Nats, smacking her lips at the thought of a tasty treat that she has yet to see.
Evityu employed his cooking skills solely to make bait for his fishing hobby. Before going after big game, he catches several small fry and cuts them into appetizing morsels to lure the larger fish.
Foxtail also started out just making bait, but he later came to the Culinarians' Guild to try making food for himself.
"I also make a mean deep-fried Tarutaru," joked Gagman, to peals of laughter from the gathered crowd. As a Galka black mage, Gagman says that juice is an absolute necessity for him. Seeing such a large cook reminded me of my own father's rather unrefined cooking.
The guild members chatted deep into the night about efficient use of materials, cooking haute cuisine, and where to find rare ingredients.
Hearing this, a Tarutaru named Poto whispered to himself, "Now I want to give cooking a try." The guildsmen gave him a warm welcome.
That night, even the plainest of foods looked somehow better than anything I had ever eaten.
Perhaps that is because I have started to appreciate the subtle flavorings of "dreams" and "devotion."