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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Land of Chefs: Caer Draeth

Written for Geographica Septentria as Baroness Katerina von Reese.

There are many excellent cooks throughout the Barony of Septentria (as my girth amply proves), but some of my favourite hail from the Canton of Caer Draeth. This “Stronghold on the Shore” was founded in AS 28, and was originally known as Bryn Rekhart. It is a hilly land, full of low mountains and thick forests, with many prosperous farms spread throughout. The woods teem with game and the waterways and lake are abundant with fish.

The people who live here are known for their industrious (indeed, it seems to be a baronial trait), and they can be counted on to host an event at the drop of a hat should the need arise (which in the past it has). Their hall of choice is a place of sport and recreation, with much open land allowing all manner of activities from fighting to archery, thrown weapons and equestrian.

Today I am in for a treat. For in only a few days time Caer Draeth will be hosting the kingdom’s next Crown Tournament. Indeed, by the time this article sees print the tournament will have come and gone, and the kingdom will have new heirs. But for now that is still in the future, and the inhabitants of Caer Draeth are busy with preparations.

I am guided through the event site by a tall man who tells me to call him Fernando. We weave our way through people hauling logs, erecting stages, hanging banners and stuffing archery buttes. He holds a door open for me and ushers me into a bustling kitchen. The room is full of steam and the sweet smells of bread, roasting meat and cooking vegetables. I am introduced to the cooking staff, and then handed a knife. I roll up my sleeves and set to work cutting vegetables.

One would think the scene chaotic, and it was, with people running to and fro from one stove to another, chopping here, stirring there, but there was a method to the seeming madness. The preparations go smoothly, and the head cook nods their head while wiping their hands on their apron, commending the kitchen staff on a good days work.

The food we’ve prepared today will be set aside in ice chests, to be re-cooked the day of the tournament, while severally dishes that could not be prepared before hand will be made fresh. Making a feast for an event is a delicate balancing act, I am told. One has to be able to juggle time with one hand and cook with the other.

I survey the work that has been completed today, and think of the work that still waits to be done, and am proud to have been even a small part of it. Caer Draeth this day has shown me a cornerstone of the Septentrian spirit—that of hospitality and hard work.

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