The Art and Skill of creating secret messages through dishes
The mood during the Manquette was as usual: The guests were laughing, celebrating and eating joyfully. When the third course came, however, the Duke Conchetti took a look at his plate, suddenly rose and excused himself, claiming he urgently needed to visit the Closetto. I was lucky to have followed him to look after him - or else I, too, would have been a victim of the dreadful poison cloud that flooded the ballroom just seconds later.
A common tradition and central aspect in the culinary culture of Baradolia is Deliarto, the Art of presenting dishes in a pleasing and unique way. As part of every elaborate meal, the guests are presented with at least one course consisting of a Delitio, an arrangement of local vegetables, grain-based elements and meat shaped like a fan with 5 to 7 chambers on a large wooden plate.
With Deliarto, the cultivated host will greet and welcome his guests to his home. It represents his symbol, his reputation and his best wishes in one.
It is considered very rude for a host to refuse their guests at least a simple Delitio. Presenting a sloppy or unwillingly destroyed Delitio is considered highly embarrassing for all host, cook, and guest. Usually, Deliarto is a form equivalent to or as similarly complex as heraldry. Different regions, families, and cities have their own unique styles of Deliarto and skilled Deliartioso are highly respected in Baradolia. Even simple households often imitate basic forms of Deliarto when presenting a meal for guests.
Just think about it: Ethoressi simply wanted to have their spies undetected - and they communicated via food. Decades later everybody in Baradolia imitates the fancy way of presenting food, making it even easier for the spies to stay undetected at first.
Almost two centuries later the scheme is found out - and yet still everybody in Baradolia just keeps on continuing to practice Deliarto! Including the hidden messages, giving the spies cover again! Is the scheme just that brilliant or are those Baradolians just that dense?
The origin of Deliarto, however, is far less innocent. In the 15th century Ethoressian spies were the first to utilize beautifully crafted dishes to send messages to fellow agents in the room. Every Ethoressian Spy was well versed in culinary artisanship and they often gained easy access to noble courts in Baradolia due to this skill.
The Deliartoso of Ethoressi were known for their skill with these dishes and it became a staple for Baradolian courts to employ a skilled Deliartoso as chief in their kitchens. Almost all of them were trained spies of Ethoressi, poised to intercept highly relevant information directly from the tables of their masters.
Through a Delitio, a spy could convey complex messages based on the number of chambers in the fan, the order of colors, the placement of vegetables dividing the fields of the fan, and even the used wooden plate. The art was impressive and quickly spread throughout Baradolian society.
With some vegetables, you form the ridges of a fan. Usually, these ridges should diverge away from the guest, and are slightly bend towards the right. The vegetables should be slightly sautéed or at least heated up for a short time over a fire. A skilled artist will arrange the vegetables to create the imitate the delicateness of a thin vein in a leaf.At the point where the ridges converge, some thin slices of either bread or meat are fanned out towards the person. It is important to create an aesthetical counterweight to the chambers of the fan.The chambers between the ridges are filled with grain-based material, often wheat grain. You best cook the wheat in some kind of sauce to create a sticky, formable mass. Use a sauce that is rich in taste, spicy but not too heavy. Local variants may include various mashed roots or mashed tuberous plants. A skilled artist will use the texture of the grain to create finer patterns within the chamber.Around the fan shape, most Deliartioso usually place thin lines with the sauce as decoration. Be sure to emphasize both the wood grain of the plate as well as the structure of the fan. Do not overload the arrangement with too much decoration!Excerpt from "The Art of Fine Cooking"
Chapter "Introduction to Deliarto - an Overview"
Since the ingredients of a Deliarto are defined rather vaguely, there have developed several local variants throughout Baradolia.
Green Shade Deliarto
Very common in the north of Baradolia, like Ambrecôte and Partourna that utilizes the magically green meat of a Pinadoo
Deliarto of Fresh Waves
Common in the coastal regions of Baradolia and along the largest rivers, with colorful fish filets as the main ingredient, sometimes even replacing the grain in every other chamber.
Hot Spice Deliarto
Simple variant spread across the colonies on the islands of Bren. Usually made out of simple dough plates decorated with spicy salted meat and soaked in a sauce with rum as main ingredient. Currently developes into a favorite pleasure food in Trandit