It began, as the best things do, with a group of friends sitting around a table.
We were reading The Daring Trials and Tribulations of Sir Taryon Darrington
in our book club. (If you haven’t read it yourself, give it a try: it is a wild ride.) Since most of us are good with food, and a book club is hardly worth the name without snacks, we try to bring treats themed to the book we’re reading. Sir Darrington does provide quite a bit of detail about everything in his adventures, including what he eats. Some of his accounts were confounding, though. For instance, a drink called Changebringer’s Nectar that he describes as “maple syrup grain alcohol” sounds terrible, but he declares it to be tasty. We were intrigued.
As we mentioned, most of us are skilled at experimenting with food and having it come out well. (One of us, it must be said, is hopeless in the kitchen. She’s great at complimenting the chefs, though, and she spins a good yarn.) But we found that Sir Darrington’s descriptions, while evocative, weren’t enough to actually cook from. We needed more information. How does one actually make
Happily, one of us was traveling through Deastok soon after that, and she managed to talk the bartender at the Grumpy Lily tavern into giving up two of his recipes. He may have been willing to share his secrets because both drinks are nearly impossible to make at home, but we were undeterred. We tried. We failed. We tried again. Finally, we reproduced versions of both drinks that we were satisfied with, and we celebrated by drinking far too much of them.
We had triumphed, and we wanted to do it again. Now it was bothering us: there were so many special meals, so many delicious drinks, throughout Exandria that we had never tried, never mind tried to make. We wanted more exploration, more experimentation, more recipes. We aren’t cut out to be brigadiers like Taryon and his crew, but we could have adventures in our own way. We could find our own type of treasure. It turned into a hobby: go on vacation, bring back a recipe. Then it turned into a mission: who can get to Vasselheim in time for Highsummer?
In our search for food, we found far more stories than we were expecting. It turns out the two are tied together more often than not, and the food is so much better when you know how it came to be. So we collected recipes, and we collected tales, and we brought them back to share with one another around the table. Before we knew it, our book club had created a book. There is so much more to explore and eat and make in this world, but it became time for us to stop sharing with one another and start sharing with you.
Here, at last, is the product of our adventures, a list of our labors, little slices of this exquisite place we live in that you can re-create at home. We hope you enjoy these banquets, bites, and beverages from across Exandria—and the stories behind them.
—The Exquisite Exandria
creators, formerly the First Draught Book Club
Copyright © 2023 by Liz Marsham, Critical Role, Jesse Szewczyk, Susan Vu, and Amanda Yee; Foreword by Quyen Tran and Sam Riegel. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.