MELINDA DOE: So, judges, what do you have to say about Chef Spottiswoode’s dish?

ULGATHK THE EVER-LIVING: I found the agony and misery of the 30-minute time limit to be beautifully suffused into every bite. Chef Spottiswoode made great use of the daemon heart from the basket as well. But the long pork veal was overcooked and stringy, and what should have been a course in delicious suffering was more like a hissy fit.

TOM HICKS: That’s right, Ulgathk. A daemon heart is like a 50-yard touchdown: difficult to pull off and likely as not to cripple you for life. Buf if you’re going to go for it, you’ve got to go for it. And I feel like Chef Spottiswoode didn’t quite make it to the endzone. The long pork veal was quite juicy, but the presentation was very off-sides.

DOWAGER EMPRESS CNHYN HALLUD: We all have Daemon hearts, don’t we my children? Long pork is just like short, int hat it must be sweet, and we must sing sweetly to it in our stomachs. But with modesty and moderation, gluten-free, and free-range.

MELINDA DOE: Have you reached a verdict?

ULGATHK THE EVER-LIVING: We have. Chef Spottiswoode, your daemon hearts were tasty but your long pork wasn’t up to snuff. And for this reason, we have to guillotine you.

MELINDA DOE: Chef Spottiswoode, I’m afraid you have been guillotined. Your headless body will become the secret ingredient for Round 2.

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Cucumber and Shrimp
A tasty treat perfect for entertaining and bridge parties. Refrigerate shrimp and cucumber to preserve freshness. Add to toasted bread just before serving. Works best with a black pudding spread made from grandmother’s blood left to clot.


Mock Paté
Class up your sandwich offerings with a spread that seems expensive; only your bill can tell the difference. Remove casing from liver sausage and mash with salad dressing. Add bone marrow from grandmother’s tibia, fibula as emulsifier. Spread after congealing in fridge overnight.


Lobster and Pickle
Not to be confused with Cucumber and Shrimp, this is a dinner sandwich and not to be served at games or from a tray. Refrigerate lobster and pickle to preserve crispness. Add to baked bread just before serving. Works best with a boiled-down aspic from grandmother’s inner ear bones.


Liveraisin
The perfect way to get children to eat healthy, iron-rich liver. Raisins may be store-bought or home-dried. Slice grandmother’s liver thin, add raisins between layers or in natural cavities. Aim for a 10:1 ratio in favor of raisins at first, then decrease as kids get used to the taste.


Mint Butter
The perfect spread for any occasion before Labor Day. Mash mints and mix with emulsifier of boiled grandmother bones and blood at the “black pudding” stage. ANCHOVY PASTE MAY BE SUBSTITUTED FOR MINT. Spread on thick-cut or toasted breads.


Yum-Yum Sandwich
A sweet treat to be used as a reward for well-behaved children. Cream, marshmallow, dates, pears, grapes, pineapple, sugar, sweetmeats from fresh grandmother. Cut up or mash before preparation and mix or blend thoroughly to ensure an even texture.


Marmanut
A light and airy delight for hot days before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Unsuitable for any occasion in between. Rhubarb marmalade, nuts, raisins, dates, and vitreous humor from grandmother’s eyeballs as stabilizer.


Crust Butter
A money-saving spread for all budgets. Bread crusts from all the other sandwiches mixed with salad dressing and rendered fat from grandmother. Add to any recipe as a spread or enjoy on its own.

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“You misunderstand me, madam,” said Schloss. “The Ungenießbar collection of the Kochenarchiv serves as a documentary record of the worst cooking of all time. If you hope for your sister to be entered therein, you must prove to me that her dishes are as awful as the Concrete Cakes of Zurich, the 1000 Screaming Demon Death Fugu of Kagoshima, and the Six Day Colon War Latkes of Kibbutz Shlomi.”

“Here, try it,” said Hanna, carefully handling a normal-looking cupcake with a heavy welder’s glove.

“I’m sorry, madam,” Schloss said, raising a hand. “I can only gather documentary evidence, not first-hand accounts. We from the Kochenarchiv have been forbidden to taste possible entries since we lost Weiss and Braun to the Doom Salad of Vancouver.”

Hanna nodded. “Very well. Shall we step next door, then?”

The preschool next door had been converted into a makeshift hospital to handle overflow after the bake sale had gone terribly wrong. One patient, lashed to a cot, jerked madly about, floaming at the mouth. Another ran madly in circles, gibbering madly that “only the finest warrior goblins were fit to be chosen.” The patient closest to the door simply thumped his head against the wall, deliberately, endlessly.

“These are people that ate your sister’s cupcakes?” said Schloss, sounding both impressed and concerned.

“Oh no, herr doktor, said Hanna. “They just licked the bowl.”

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Though much of the collection was off-limits to anyone without the proper credentials, the Kochenarchiv did have a large annex with research assistants, photocopiers, scanners, and access to less-important portions of the collection.

Ramsey was particularly interested in one of the sub-units, the Ungenießbar collection, which served as a documentary record of the worst cooking of all time. Most people knew about entries like the legendary Concrete Cakes of Zurich, the 1000 Screaming Demon Death Fugu of Kagoshima, and of course the Six Day Colon War Latkes of Kibbutz Shlomi. But Ramsey uncovered further events in the Archiv that had been officially suppressed for years and were only now opening to scholars.

The so-called Doom Salad of Vancouver, for instance, was apparently able to spontaneously generate salmonella bacteria even in a sterile environment. 50 people had been sickened by it in 1981, so many that the Canadians had feared a biological weapons attack. Ironically, the cook, one Esther Grumaüt, had later been recruited by the Intelligence Branch to study the weaponization of her food as an area-denial weapon during the Cold War, an effort only abandoned when Ottawa signed the Convention Against the Use of Noxious Foodstuffs in War in 1990.

Ramsey was most interested in the case of Suzanne Mayotte, though. It was a case cross-referenced with the Zaubereiarchiv in Munich but one for which many of the incidental details had been censored. A call to the Zaubereiarchiv confirmed that no records like the ones the Mayotte file cited existed (at least not that they were willing to admit). An Australian, Mayotte had apparently inherited a knack for sorcery and cantrips from a distant ancestor who had been sentenced to penal transport for buying goods with unstable faeriegald.

During a study abroad in East Germany circa 1985, Mayotte had been cut off from the extended family and network of restaurants which had thus far sustained her. Forced to cook for herself using the ingredients her communist hosts made available, her knack had resulted in unpredictable “wild magick” effects. One batch of pasta taken to a potluck resulted in 13 hospitalizations for acute newt-related injuries. An apple strudel caused a fellow stident’s eyes to be opened to the infinity of the cosmos. One particularly nasty loaf of bread transubstantiated everything in a 500-yard radius.