Ebelu Tii Tespr

Eh-beh-loo tee teh-spur

Ebelu Tii Tespr (“Ebelu and Tespr”) is a traditional meal most commonly prepared in the cold regions of Serpentis. It is a simple but classic dish: a bowl of ebelu rice steamed to perfection is topped with a fillet of tespr (a large insect species) which has been grilled and glazed with a caramelized, savory sauce. It may also be topped with a combination of herbs, spices, or oxi (Serpentian salt).
This dish would be equated to the Japanese Unadon or Unagi don.   At the home table, it is served as is, but in some restaurants it may also be served with a very small side of either soup or a cold salad. Some restaurants even offer different varieties of rice, but traditionally ebelu is used. Tundra Dwellers often prepare large shareable portions for their big families.   Tespr is a staple food source on Serpentis largely across the substellar face and is well known for its slightly translucent meat and tender, earthy flavor. The use of tespr was heavily dependent on its over-abundance, accessibility, and the Serpentians’ affinity for eating insects.   This dish originated from the homesteads of Shyr on the tundras where an abundance of tespr larvae can be found. The number one tundra cultivator is a cold-resistant rice variety known as ebelu. Once popular only among cold-dwelling countryside folk, tespr soon became a major staple of Serpentian cuisine, especially in traditional restaurants, thanks to the commercial nurseries that collect and raise tespr larva. Ebelu Tii Tespr is among the most widely recognized and consumed tespr products.  
“Get a move on, son.” Vyan grumbled.   The Shyr father scooped up his adolescent son and carefully tossed him up onto a rocky slope. Behind him, three other Shyr, a man and two women, were waiting for their turn to climb the pile. The man held his palm up. In his palm was a small ball of fire that flickered about, illuminating the passage. Vyan picked his way up the unsteady cluster of rocks and the other three followed.   It was dark and damp in the tunnel. And cold. The walls were ruggedly cut, especially the ceiling. However the floor was much smoother and sometimes slick. Zoren, the son, had picked himself up but slipped on a patch of smooth-cut ice and fell into the wall.   Zoren got his feet beneath him and shivered. “Can we go home yet? It’s really freaky in here.”   “I told you before, Zoren: we’ll head home once we find the brood.” Vyan helped the boy up straight. “You need to learn how to do this, just like everyone else.”   Zoren pouted and followed after his father. The tunnel was long and quiet, aside from the soft patting of their feet. Zoren’s shoulders slumped at the sight of the seemingly endless walk ahead of him. Far ahead, the tunnel curved to the left.   “What even is the brood?” Zoren asked as he avoided a large stone and stepped over a sheet of ice.   “The brood...” Vyan adjusted a thick cloth wrap that came undone around his arm. “...is the clutch of eggs the tespr lay each season. There are a couple females that like to lay around here.”   “They keep coming back if they feel the area is still safe. So far we’ve been lucky.” One of the women added.   “And how do you know where to go?” Zoren asked, furrowing his brow.   His father looked back at him briefly. “We’ve been doing this since before you were born, Zoren. We know where they go, where they lay...”   Vyan stopped and the other three Shyr halted, their faces plastered with focus and apprehension.   Vyan grabbed Zoren’s shoulder. “Don’t move. Don’t talk.”   Zoren looked about, his eyes darting. The ground rumbled softly. Pebbles fell from the ceiling. Ahead of them, a sheet of ice fell and shattered into powder. The rumbling slowed and ceased. Zoren lifted his other floating hand. Nobody moved. There wasn’t a sound.   “What’s h—“ Zoren attempted to speak but his father covered his mouth.   The group stood waiting for several long minutes. The ground began to rumble again, but slowly the shaking of the tunnel dissipated until the vibrations tapered to silence and stillness.   Vyan faced Zoren. “When I tell you to not move and not talk, I mean it. Tespr can feel every move you make including the words that come out of your mouth. Remember that.”   The adolescent nodded. “Okay. Should we still be worried, even if it left?”   “You should always be aware. You don’t have to be worried yet. They can’t move backward, so they would have to take tunnel systems back around, or carve a new one.” Vyan resumed walking and the rest of the party followed.   The group had traveled for sometime now. The dirt and rock tunnel walls had given way to an icy cavern. It wasn’t nearly as dark here. The man carrying the fire in his palm let it dissipate to nothing. A minuscule amount of light filtered through the thick ice, allowing their eyes to see in the darkness.   “We’re getting close.”   Vyan led them through a smooth ice passage into a tunnel carved similarly to the tunnels they had just come through: rugged and jaggedly cut. The group slunk along and came upon a new cavern. This one was even larger. A wide expanse of rock and ice met their gazes and a sea of perfectly round eggs, clear as water, carpeted the cavern floor. There had to be thousands of them. Nearly every egg, well over a foot wide, was active with wiggly, greenish motion inside. A wormlike organism struggled to chip at the shell with a little spine protruding from above its mouth of tendrils.   Zoren stared with a mix of feelings: horror and fascination. Vyan patted the boy’s head and laughed. “This is where your food comes from. You’ll be seeing plenty more of this from now on.”   “We’re early.” One of the women observed.   Vyan nodded. “We’ll come back later. Let them fatten themselves up. At least we know they’ve been lain here. Take a few eggs for now.”   The Shyr approached the ocean of eggs and carried away what they could. Zoren held one against his chest awkwardly. The others held two.   “Next time we come back, son, you’ll get to wrangle some larvae and we’ll show you how to butcher one and make Ebelu Tii Tesper.”   “And your grandmother can show you how to make those tasty pickled eyeballs.” A lady chortled behind Vyan.   Vyan groaned and rolled his eyes. “Don’t do it, son. Those are spawn of the demons. Awful.”

Nothing like a warm meal out in the bitter cold

A Tundra Dweller Shyr preparing a tespr larva


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