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Meat's back on the menu! Choosing your next meal shouldn't have to be a roll of the many-sided die. With Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook, you can finally settle that Tarrasque-like rumbling in your belly. On sale next week from Ten Speed Press, the delicious tome features 80 mouthwatering recipes from the world of everyone's favorite tabletop RPG. The book was written by Art & Arcana veterans Michael Witwer, Jon Peterson, and Kyle Newman, all of whom teamed up with a chef from America's Test Kitchen to translate the fantasy foods of D&D into our reality.
"[We wanted] to do something that’s germane to Dungeons & Dragons, which is you sit at a table and invariably eat food over the course of five to six hours," Newman tells SYFY WIRE. "Why don’t we add a dimension to the game, which people sometimes do that can elevate or enhance the story or the experience or just give it a fun, conversational piece? I think at first we were like, ‘Hmmm, I don’t know.’ We put our heads together and I think we saw an opportunity here, especially if we could go back and look at Dungeons & Dragons history and put our skill sets to use."
"We looked a lot to particular campaign worlds and settings from the history of D&D," adds Peterson. "[Kyle] mentioned Krynn. We go through the Forgotten Realms, we go through Eberron, and even way back into this thing called Greyhawk from the original D&D campaigns that Gary Gygax himself ran. We looked at those worlds, too, and their broader context as a way to help understand where recipes fit, and a lot of people play Forgotten Realms these days."
Like a good grandmother, Ted Speed Press couldn't let us go without some tasty treats, and SYFY WIRE is exclusively revealing two recipes from the cookbook: the Sembian Honey–Glazed Rothé Ribs and Chultan Zombie. If you can't find fresh Rothé this time of year, regular ol' beef or pork ribs will do the trick.
"There’s an example of a creature that is specific to the D&D universe, specifically to Forgotten Realms. Rothé is almost like a buffalo. It’s almost like a bantha from Star Wars and so, of course, they raise and eat these things," explains Witwer, who has made almost every recipe from the book. "Rothé ribs have a honey, tangy glaze. Super messy, super delicious."
"It’s kind of a play on a real-world sentiment applied over to the fantasy side," Witwer continues. "That was the idea with it. But one thing that’s important to think about in terms of how we approached the development, is simply that when we got the project, we basically said, ‘Well, why don’t we just approach this as a D&D sourcebook? But instead of having tables of weapons and character descriptions and spell descriptions, the contents will just be about food. And everything that you could think about regarding food and cuisine in the D&D multiverse.’"
You can wash those meaty ribs down with a nice Chultan Zombie. "It’s a Level 2 drink. If you’re a Level 1 chef, this is gonna take a little doing," Witwer warns. "There’s a few different elements in it, but it is a really robust, rum-based, fruity drink. Basically, it’s got pineapple juice and some other things in it and so, it will get you to where you’re going pretty quickly, let me put it that way. It is a robust mixed cocktail drink that’s pretty damn good."
The cookbook also features a chili recipe from D&D super-fan, Joe Manganiello. "We had to get him involved somewhere," Newman says. "He was such a great supporter of our last book and wrote the foreword. He’s just a friend of the family, so we wanted to get him in here somehow.'"
For the Chultan photo shoot, concept artist Justin Goby Fields created a custom artifact: the Talisman of Ultimate Evil. "So much of D&D and the experience [of it] is artistic interpretation, whether it be rudimentary black-and-white drawings or lush paintings. It’s always interpretive and this is the first time we’re really putting it down in a photographic medium. We wanted to make sure the frame was imbued with the right textures, that there was production design in the right way," Newman says.
He continues: "We also felt it would be good to anchor these with artifacts, coins, curios from within the world. Things that would be applicable to that world. We spoke with Justin about creating four unique objects that we could put just left of center in the frame to help bring you into the world and if you know, you know that, ‘Oh my god, that’s the Talisman of Ultimate Evil sitting right there.’ In the case of the Chultan Zombie, we do have Sirac’s famous talisman, so there are some cool little Easter eggs like that in there. I think they’re more than Easter eggs, the way they’re positioned on the page, but we just wanted to anchor it with some very familiar, iconic, legendary items from the world of Dungeons & Dragons."
In terms of different chapters, the book is broken up by the various cultures found throughout the game's mythos: humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, etc. "We had a lot of discretion and a lot of trust from Wizards to help develop from the various fantasy cultures, the elves, the dwarves, the halflings, and so on," Peterson says. "What really could we extrapolate from what was there and say, ‘Is there taste? Is Elven cuisine more like Japanese food? Is it more like Nordic cuisine?’ That process of sussing all that out was a lot of fun."
"As a fan, this is just something I’m glad exists and it fills that void because it is a very big void — a glaring void and I’m glad it’s there," Newman concludes. "I’m thankful that I got to be a part of bringing it to life, especially with our team here and we’re up to a few other things, too, which is also exciting. I think we’re gonna keep a good thing going with some other books in the D&D space very soon."
Heroes' Feast goes on sale Oct. 27. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon for $25.16.