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【书籍搬运】The Red Kitchen Reader 追忆红色厨房

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原文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:The_Red_Kitchen_Reader

作者: 西蒙塞斯·科沃

翻译:花溪流萤

尽管应当保持谦虚,但我对于当今圣上的父亲—已故的柏拉鸠斯四世授予我“泰姆瑞尔首席美食家”这一称号仍倍感自豪。感谢他的赏识,直到今天我还是帝国宫廷首位亦是唯一一位烹饪大师。毋庸置疑,每位君王都拥有大厨为其烹调美食,但膳房菜谱交由品味考究的鉴赏家打理,并由其负责精心挑选最好的原料以供烹调这种实践则仅存于柏拉鸠斯统治期间。他的儿子尤里尔对我极力挽留,但鉴于年龄原因和身体状况,我只得委婉的拒绝了留任请求。

然而,本书著作意图并非为自己作传。诚然,在我作为美食家探求美食的生涯中,曾有过不少伟大冒险,但本书所述内容具体而微。(因为)我曾被不只一次的这样问道,“你这辈子吃过的最好吃的东西是什么?”(我只想回答这样一个问题)

答案本身很难一概而论。相当数量的美食乐趣并不仅仅来源于食物自身:就餐环境,陪同用餐对象,以及心情同样意义重大。若有真爱偕同,即便食物对象只是普通烤肉亦或简单炖汤,也能令人印象深刻。反之,如若同桌皆无趣之人,即使面对满汉全席,亦觉味同嚼蜡,之后便很快遗忘,即便忆起,也只能徒呼奈何,空留遗憾。

有时,美食印象来自于餐前经历。

就像最近,我在天际北部遭遇一场厄运。事发当时,我正处于一群渔民当中,观察他们捕猎一种相当美味的稀有鱼类莫英嘉的技巧。这种深海鱼类的栖息环境远离海岸线,所以我们经历了一周的远航方才抵达远离人烟的捕鱼区域。其后不久,我们便成功发现莫英嘉鱼群,但当渔民们纷纷开始用鱼叉叉鱼时,水中蔓延的鲜血引来了一群鱼人,他们掀翻了我们所乘船只,并将船上诸人一起抛向大海。我想法设法方才保住性命,但是那些渔夫和我们的给养却消失得无影无踪。由于我并不擅长划船,所以我在食物匮乏的情况下花了3周时间方才沿路返回孤寂城王国,一路上我费尽全力才捕到一些小鱼,随后将他们生吞活剥充饥,但仍因缺水少食而奄奄一息。我上岸之后吃的第一顿食物是诺德烤野猪,杰芝贝酒, 以及莫英嘉肉片,这些食物在平时亦堪称美味,但由于当时我已饥肠辘辘数日之久,所以那顿饭对我来说更是难以言喻的神赐。

有时,美食印象来源于事后体验。

在法林纳斯提的一间酒馆,我被推荐品尝了一种叫做克洛皮的乡土小菜,新鲜的肉团,洒上鲜美孜然,淋上可口汤汁,实乃无尚美味。大快朵颐之后,我向厨娘询问菜肴的出处。店主帕斯科斯大婶解释道,食材取自一种树栖啮齿动物,它们仅以橡木最鲜嫩的枝桠为食。非常幸运,时值 瓦伦林地一年一度的狩猎季节,所以我受邀加入了一支带有数只伊姆迦猿猴的捕猎小队,这些猴子是捕猎此种肉质小鼠的主力,因为猎物只栖息在树杈的尖端,所以猴子只得攀爬道树杈低端,然后向上跃起“收割”猎物,猴子不消说个个身手矫健,而那时的我也相当年轻好动,所以他们让我上去帮忙。虽然无法像猴子那样上窜下跳,但经由实践,我发现如果我保持头部和上身挺直,借着蹬地的反冲力道,我同样可以捕捉一些稍低枝桠上的克洛皮,通过不懈努力,我最终捕获了3只Kollopi。

直至今日,每当我忆起克洛皮,浮现在脑海中的便是我和一群猴子站在橡树的树荫里上窜下跳的场面。

当然,存在极少用餐经历,餐前餐后和就餐过程均精彩绝伦,带给我此生最佳的用餐体验,并开启了我对烹饪艺术终生探求的大门。

作为一个在夏丁赫尔长大的孩子,(起初)对食物本身并不关注。也不是完全愚钝,起码我还知道食物的营养价值,但很难说食物能给我带来多少实感。以上状况很大一部分拜家中厨师所赐,她认为调料是迪德拉的发明,一位正直的帝国子民应当乐于接受蒸煮的简单清淡食物。虽然我一直认为这仅仅是种宗教偏执,但我对赛瑞迪尔传统烹调法的大量研究样本显示,这种观点在我的家乡相当盛行。

尽管当时我对饮食毫无兴趣,但并不意味着我对其他方面也毫无兴趣,疏于冒险。我对竞技场搏杀就非常热衷,并常独自一人徘徊于故乡的街道上,在自己的脑海中编织决斗幻想,没有事情能比这些更令我开心了。也就是在这样一次日常闲逛中,我做出了改变我心灵和一生的大发现,那是一个星期五,阳光安好。

我家所处的街道一端坐落着几栋废弃房屋,我常在其周围玩耍,想象着屋中到处都是罪大恶极的逃犯或者充斥着数以百计的恶灵。因此我从来不敢闯进去一探究竟。事实上,若不是那天为了躲避几个以欺负我为乐的坏孩子寻找庇护所,我估计永远都不会踏足这片废屋。

屋子内部同样破败不堪,更加印证此处长久以来都无人居住这一事实。所以当我听到脚步声时,我只能想象是尾随我进来的那些坏孩子发出的。为了躲避他们,我逃到了地下室中,越过一面坍塌的墙壁,我来到一口弃井前,头顶上的脚步声仍然没有停歇,我可不想碰上这些作威作福的坏孩子,所以我撬开了井上锈迹斑斑的大锁,滑入井中。

这口旱井早已干涸,但是绝非空无一物。看来此处原是房屋的第二层地下室,三间一尘不染,家具齐全的大屋排列其间,全无被遗弃的样子。感官告诉我这里一定有人居住,不仅通过视觉,还包括嗅觉。在其中一间以粉红颜料喷涂的厨房里,煤炉上烘烤的烤肉切片散发出阵阵香气。隐约可见一位美丽得体的母亲正在给自己的孩子分发烤肉的浮雕,那些孩子脸上均绽放出笑颜,我被眼前这座美丽厨房以及这幅欢乐景象深深感染。

恰如我之前所言,食物对我毫无吸引力,但当时我却被深深震撼了,文字本身已不足以描述当时弥漫在空气中沁人心脾的馨香。我从未在我家的厨房中嗅到一丝这样的气息,所以忍不住取出一块仍在大冒热气的烤肉放入嘴中。那滋味充满魔力,肉味爽滑甘美。等到回过神来,我已经把炉上的肉块一扫而空,那一瞬间,我了解到食物也能如此神奇,并且理应得到尊崇。

用完饕餮盛宴并对厨艺心生感悟以后,我踌躇着接下来应当怎么做一方面我想留在红色厨房等待厨师回来以询问他做出如此鲜美烤肉的秘诀。另一方面我意识到自己是在闯空门吃白食,走为上策。最后,理智占了上风,我逃跑了。

很多次,我都想重返那处奇怪却又神奇的地方,但是夏丁赫尔几经变迁,新房旧房更迭不息。我明白该如何寻找到它—残垣,废井,女子为其孩子切肉的美丽浮雕,红色厨房本身—但我终究还是无功而返。其后,我渐渐老去,我停止了找寻。还是让它沉淀在我的记忆中好了,那是我享用过的最好一餐。

我用毕生灵感连同红色厨房里的鲜美烤肉一起,烹调出今生最美的追忆。

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The Red Kitchen Reader
by Simocles Quo
Autobiographical musings of how the Master of Cuisine came to adore viands

 Though naturally modest, I must admit to some pleasure in being dubbed by our Emperor's father, the late Pelagius IV, as "the finest connoisseur in Tamriel." He was also good enough to appoint me the first, and to this day, the only Master of Cuisine in the Imperial Court. Other Emperors, of course, had master chefs and cooks in their staff, but only during the reign of Pelagius was there someone of rarefied tastes to plan the menus and select the finest produce to be served at court. His son Uriel requested that I continue in that position, but I was forced to graciously decline the invitation, because of age and poor health.
This book, however, is not intended to be autobiography. I have had a great many adventures in my life as a knight of fine dining, but my intention for this book is much more specific. Many times I have been asked, "What is the best thing you ever ate?"
The answer to that is not a simple one. Much of the pleasure of a great meal is not only in the food: it is in the setting, the company, the mood. Eat an indifferently cooked roast or a simple stew with your one true love, and it is a meal to be remembered. Have an excellent twelve-course feast with dull company, while feeling slightly ill, and it will be forgotten, or remembered only with distaste.
Sometimes meals are memorable for the experiences that come before them.
Fairly recently, in northern Skyrim, I had a bit of bad luck. I was with a group of fishermen, observing their technique of capturing a very rare, very delicious fish called Merringar. The fish is found only far from shore, so it was a week's voyage out beyond civilization. Well, we found our school of Merringar, but as the fishermen began spearing them, the blood in the water attracted a family of Dreugh, who capsized the boat and everyone on it. I managed to save myself, but the fishermen and all our supplies were lost. Sailing is not, alas, a skill I have picked up over the years, and it took me three weeks, with no provisions, to find my way back to the kingdom ofSolitude. I had managed to catch enough small fish to eat raw, but I was still delirious from hunger and thirst. The first meal I had on shore, of Nordic roast boar, Jazbay wine, and, yes, filet of Merringar would have been excellent under any circumstances, but because of the threat of starvation I had faced, it was divine beyond words.
Sometimes meals are even memorable for the experiences that follow them.
In a tavern in Falinesti, I was introduced to a simple peasant dish called Kollopi, delicious little balls of flesh, thick with spices and juice, so savory I asked the proprietress whence they came. Mother Pascost explained that the Kollopi were an arboreal rodent that fed exclusively on the most tender branches of the graht-oak, and I was fortunate enough to be in Valenwood at the time of the annual harvest. I was invited to join with a small colony of Imga monkeys, who alone could gather these succulent little mice. Because they lived only on the slenderest branches of the trees, and only on the ends of those same branches, the Imga had to climb beneath them and jump up to "pick" the Kollopi from their perches. Imga are, of course, naturally dexterous, but I was then relatively young and spry, and they let me help them. While I could never jump as high they could, with practice, I found that if I kept my head and upper body rigid, and launched off the ground with a scissors-like kick, I could reach the Kollopi on the lowest branches of the tree. I believe I gathered three Kollopi myself, though with considerable effort.
To this day, I salivate at the thought of Kollopi, but my mind is on the image of myself and several dozen Imgas leaping around beneath the shade of the graht-oaks.
Then, of course, there are the rare meals memorable for what came before, after, and during the meal, which brings me to the finest thing I ever ate, the meal that began my lifelong obsession with excellent cuisine.
As a child growing up in Cheydinhal, I did not care for food at all. I recognized the value of nutrition, for I was not a complete dullard, but I cannot say that mealtime brought me any pleasure at all. Partly, of course, this was the fault of my family's cook, who believed that spices were an invention of the Daedra, and that good Imperials should like their food boiled, textureless and flavorless. Though I think she was alone in assigning a religious significance to this, my sampling of traditional Cyrodilic cuisine suggests that the philosophy is regrettably common in my homeland.
Though I did not enjoy food per se, I was not a morose, unadventurous child in other respects. I enjoyed the fights in the Arena, of course, and nothing made me happier than wandering the streets of my town, with my imagination as my only companion. It was on one such jaunt on a sunny Fredas in Mid Year that I made a discovery that changed my heart and my life.
There were several old abandoned houses down the street from my own home, and I often played around them, imagining them to be filled with desperate outlaws or haunted by hundreds of evil spirits. I never had the nerve to go inside. In fact, had I not that day seen some other children who had delighted in teasing me in the past, I would never have gone in. But I needed a sanctuary, so I ran into the closest one.
The house seemed to be as desolate on the inside as on the outside, further proof that no one lived there, and had not for some time. When I heard footsteps, I could only assume that the loathsome little urchins I hoped to avoid had followed me in. I escaped to the basement, and from there, past a broken-down wall that led to a well. I could still hear the footsteps above, and I decided that I was still loath to confront my tormentors. Knocking aside the rusty locks on the well, I slipped down below.
The well was dry, but I discovered it was far from empty. There was a sort of a sub-basement to the house, three large rooms that were clean, furnished, and evidently not abandoned at all. My senses told me someone was living in the house, after all: not only my sense of sight, but my sense of smell. For one of the rooms was a large red-painted kitchen, and spread out on the coals of the oven was a roast, carved into small morsels. Passing a beautiful and appropriate bas-relief of a mother carving a roast for her grateful children, I beheld the kitchen and the wonders within.
Like I said, food had never interested me before, but I was transfixed, and even now as I write this, words fail me in describing the rich aroma that hung in the air. It was like nothing I had ever smelled in my family's kitchen, and I was unable to stop myself from popping one of the steaming chunks of meat into my mouth. The taste was magical, the flesh tender and sweet. Before I knew it, I had eaten everything on the stove, and I learned at that very second the truth that that food can and should be sublime.
After gorging myself and having my culinary epiphany, I was conflicted on what to do. Part of me wanted to wait down in that red kitchen until the chef returned, so I could ask him what his secret recipe was for the delicious meat. Part of me recognized that I had stolen into someone's house and eaten their dinner, and it would be wise to leave while I could. That was what I did.
Time and again, I've tried to return to that strange, wonderful place, but Cheydinhal has changed over time. Old houses have been reclaimed, and new houses abandoned. I know what to look for on the inside of the house - the well, the beautiful etching of a woman preparing to carve out a roast for her children, the red kitchen itself - but I have never been able to find the house again. After a while, as I grew older, I stopped trying. It is better as it remains in my memory, the most perfect meal I ever ate.
The inspiration for my life that followed all was cooked up, together with that fabulous meat, right there in the Red Kitchen.

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