While brainstorming or worldbuilding, the process tends to involve taking ideas and themes and then expanding on them to slowly build a clear picture of the scene. In this case the scene may well be the size of a small country, but the touchstones that paint the clearest picture tend to be the little details. These will vary on a case-by-case basis, but are often a fairly inconsequential thing, such as fictional, factual and legal documents being printed on different colours of paper, or a type of street food served in a region based on local produce.
An example of the latter came into being when Matt and I were writing a brief overview for the Cities Of The Riverlands – so we assumed one of the nearest food sources would be fish. Of course, being Welsh, the idea of adding laverbread into the mix was inevitable, and the idea of making it into a pie, or pastie followed in no short order.
Eventually this recipe started forming in my mind, which we called the Blacksea Butty (probably because of some seaweed in the flour, or something) and I started entertaining the thought of actually making an approximation.
Here follows the account of Cooking In Crux – The Blacksea Butty (alpha test, with the notes I made at the time)
Ingredients, quantities kept deliberately vague (what do you think this is, baking? Wait, some of it kind of is):
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion (for colour if anything else)
[2 fillets river cobbler
2 fillets haddock]*
2 slack handfuls of prawns
salt and pepper
1 packet of ready-made pastry, either puff or shortcrust, for preference.(see below)
Butter or appropriate approximation
Cheese(red leicester and mature cheddar)
Marinade the cobbler and haddock, diced. in the juice of two lemons, along with some salt and pepper for about 2-3 hours.
Grate the cheese. Make your country grate again!
To two dabs of butter, melting in a pan, add a dollop of flour, this is your roux, from which the sauce will be put together.
add the milk, (3/4 of a pint, I’d guess) and put on a low-medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken. Drop the cheese in (handful of extra-mature cheddar and red leicester here), and stir til dissolved. Add salt and pepper if you’re a shameless autocondimentator.
Attempt to cut up about 5 sheets of nori (the seaweed used for sushi rolls), fail and realise that they can be scrunched up and then crumbled. Add this to the pot and stir.
Whack onto simmer for a little bit.
Realise you should have used shortcrust pastry as filo is really faffy. Put together a pastie/turnover affair using four or five sheets of filo, then sealed up with another topsheet of filo, to hold it all together. Brush with egg.
Grease up a baking tray or dish, add the nascent butties. Whack it in the oven and pray.
About 30-35mins in the oven, thereabouts until it starts to brown on the top, take out and leave to stand for about 10-15 minutes. Take out, cook some veggies and attempt to compose a suitable presentation picture.
Consume your creation. Succumbing to food poisoning at this point is considered bad form and a sign that you have done something wrong.
Thankfully, dear reader, they turned out pretty well for an idea assembled purely from the recesses of my mind, and I will probably be making these again, with a much better idea for how to go about it.
Until then, happy eating, and hard love,