What Flavor Is Your Owlbear?

We recently made pot roast from Heroes' Feast, but when applying the same recipe to a fantasy world it begs the question: does it have to come from a cow?

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Reghed Venison Pot Roast

The pot roast recipe in the Heroes' Feast cookbook makes a very simple but important concession to translate the meal to the real world. It's made of beef, not venison:
To endure the arduous cold of Icewind Dale, the Reghed and other similar groups such as the Uthgardt of Northern Faerun, must maximize time and energy to thrive. Communal meals at winter camps (constructed seasonally to survive the exceptionally long winter) are as central to their dignified warrior culture as their deep religious traditions. Venison (the meant of antelope, deer, or elk) is the most readily available, and thus coveted, finding various uses for these resourceful nomads, but beef or rothe is completely acceptable in other realms.
Like some of the other meals in Heroes' Feast, this one takes time. It's a pot roast after all! Most of the work involves the gravy (Heroes' Feast really loves its gravy recipes). There's plenty of leftover gravy and a lot of vegetables. In fact, it took me an entire week to eat the leftovers.

This recipe required white wine, but we ended up using a light beer because we didn't have any handy. I also accidentally diced the carrots instead of chopping them int 3/4-inch pieces; that's what I get for not reading the directions closely!

The big difference in this recipe from your basic pot roast is the apricots, which lend it a delicious flavor. I'm not accustomed to having fruit in meat dishes, but it's a tasty addition. My daughter enjoyed it and even ate leftovers.

I'm not sure how much this meal has to do with the Reghed northerners however (somehow, apricots don't seem like something they use, despite statements that "Reghed stake proud claim" on the ceremonial pot roast dish to mark the beginning of the long winter). But what does seem likely is that any culture that lives in harsh conditions would eat whatever creature provided sufficient protein, and that leads us to the question of eating monsters.

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If It Bleeds, We Can Eat It

What makes it okay to eat a creature? The topic of what we define as food, pets, or pests is controversial in the modern world. For an in-depth discussion of the topic, see Some We Love, Some What Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals. Defining what's an edible being gets even more complicated in a fantasy world. Broadly, you could easily rule that food animals must be beasts. Certain other creature types make it clear where they stand in the natural order.

Celestials, fey, fiends, giants, humanoids, and undead imply a certain level of intelligence that would probably be more defined as cannibalism than a food animal. Some might be unsuitable depending on their makeup. Elementals have their own unique problems with consumption (you could drink a water elemental, for example, but good luck eating a fire elemental unless you're Natsu from Fairy Tale).

We already know there are abyssal chickens, so despite the broad caveat that eating a fiend might be a bad idea, there's some planar dwellers who surely don't hesitate to chow down if they can catch them. Conversely, unicorns and pegasi are celestials in Fifth Edition, and they have a legacy of being hunted for their body parts if not their meat.

Oozes are a weird case. Theoretically, they might be edible raw, or they might simply dissolve into an (inedible) puddle of goo.

Eating a dragon involves a host of problems, not the least of which that dragons aren't okay with it. But dragon meat could easily be a delicacy, if a reprehensible choice for PCs who see sentience as a hard line not to be crossed when choosing their meat.

We can't let the vegetarians off the hook either. There are plant monsters in D&D, some sentient. Depending on the reason a PC doesn't eat meat, plant monsters raise a thorny (ahem) question as to ethics of consuming it.

But then there's the unique cases, like aberrations (which can be terrestrial but alien creatures), and monstrosities (which can be just about any other monster). So what might you eat that's not a typical beast?

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The Borderline Cases

There are plenty of creatures that are beast-adjacent, like the owlbear. Of the aberrations, chuuls seem like large crustaceans and might just be edible (and tasty, with the right sauces). Ankhegs fit in a similar category, given their bug-like appearance.

Other monstrosities are not so easy to classify as a meal. Historical sources might be a guide. Basilisks and cockatrices in medieval bestiaries were affiliated with snakes and chickens, so they might be edible or poisonous depending on the source. Hydras seem lizard-like, but again have been associated with poison in historical sources so eating them might not be a good idea.

Other creatures probably taste what they look like. Gricks and purple worms seem like worms and probably taste about as appetizing. Gorgon's look like cattle but are covered in scales; their meat might be delicious or terrible given their petrifying breath.

Hybrid creatures could taste like a combination of the animals they embody. Griffons may taste like both eagle and lion, hippogriffs like eagle and horse, owlbears like owl (?) and bear, and chimeras like goat, lion, and dragon.

And then there's the really weird creatures like the bulette, darkmantle, roper, and rust monster. What they taste like is anybody's guess; since they're all predators, they're probably not eaten very often. Can you even eat a rust monster roast with metal utensils?

If the Reghed barbarians can make a pot roast out of venison or beef, then surely other cultures pick and choose their meals based on the edible creatures they can catch. It's up to the PCs if they should try it ... and up to the DM to determine what they taste like.

Your Turn: What happened when the PCs tried to eat a monster?
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

What cut of beef did you use, chuck roast?

I also accidentally diced the carrots instead of chopping them int 3/4-inch pieces; that's what I get for not reading the directions closely!
I noticed that in the picture LOL. I was wondering what the apricots were, interesting. Anyhow looks like it came out good.

Article got me thinking it be fun to play a PC like Anthony Bourdain, travelling the planes eating anything and everything remotely edible. Always meant to read his book but just never got around to it.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Of course, one could just make this recipe with venison in the real world too. Depending on where you live, it might not be that hard to get, at least seasonally.

There's actually a whole 5E supplement devoted to cooking monsters. I backed the Kickstarter and have received my book, but it looks like it may not be generally available yet. Here's a link to a preview:

 

Ulfgeir

Hero
What cut of beef did you use, chuck roast?


I noticed that in the picture LOL. I was wondering what the apricots were, interesting. Anyhow looks like it came out good.

Article got me thinking it be fun to play a PC like Anthony Bourdain, travelling the planes eating anything and everything remotely edible. Always meant to read his book but just never got around to it.
I can just imagine the Iron Chef: Faerun edition...
Todays' secret ingredient is Floumph. Give us the most creative dishes. Your time starts now..

Or you are the adventurers tasked with bringing back these rare creatures that are to be served up. Fancy a Tarasque-burger?
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The big difference in this recipe from your basic pot roast is the apricots, which lend it a delicious flavor. I'm not accustomed to having fruit in meat dishes, but it's a tasty addition. My daughter enjoyed it and even ate leftovers.

Historical tidbit - medieval cooking has a lot more sweet fruit in it than modern cooking. This can be traced in large part to lack of shipping - these are people who are not getting fresh vegetables most of the year. The idea of a "vegetable side dish" was less common. Your vitamins have to be worked in everywhere, often in the form of dried fruits.
 

aco175

Legend
We did an adventure where we tracked down a unicorn to kill for a Duke's meal once. It was after the movie with the Ferris Bueler guy and the Godfather guy where they had an underground exotic animal dinner in secret locations. It ended up saving the unicorn and eating cow where nobody knew the difference.

I think both owl and bear are not tops on the modern menu, but for most D&D folk, it would be great. This is one reason that I have a lot of roadside inns serve stew- which is made from most things the PCs do not ask about. We once had the PCs kill an owlbear outside of town only to have a merchant dragging it in for the inn to have in exchange for free food and stay. Of course, that then gave the players ideas of dragging everything in themselves.
 

Of course, one could just make this recipe with venison in the real world too. Depending on where you live, it might not be that hard to get, at least seasonally.
I'm not a big fan of venison so I've never really looked but I don't ever recall seeing it available in a super market or butcher shop. Suppose it may be special order but something tells me because deer carry disease it may not be something common in retail.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I'm not a big fan of venison so I've never really looked but I don't ever recall seeing it available in a super market or butcher shop.
I said it might not be hard to get. I didn't say where. :D

If you live in a part of the country where people hunt, you might know someone who has a freezer full of venison and would be willing to share. Most of the venison I've eaten in my life has come about that way.
 

Oofta

Legend
I'm not a big fan of venison so I've never really looked but I don't ever recall seeing it available in a super market or butcher shop. Suppose it may be special order but something tells me because deer carry disease it may not be something common in retail.
Depends on where you live. In the upper midwest (Minnesota don'cha know) it's not that hard to find because a lot of people hunt.
 

I said it might not be hard to get. I didn't say where. :D

If you live in a part of the country where people hunt, you might know someone who has a freezer full of venison and would be willing to share. Most of the venison I've eaten in my life has come about that way.
I know what you were getting at. I always wondered where they get the deer on Chopped, if they call Cooter to go hunt some deer or head to the underground market.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
This topic - how do magical beast taste like, and what do they do to you, has been covered extensively by Skerples on his blog - I highly recommend it to any DM wondering "ok, they just ate hellhound meat, now what?"

 

One of my parties tried to eat a Chuul, botched the cooking roll, and ended up all getting the poisoned condition.

One thing that's come up in discussion at that table is that in a world where you can pretty much speak to anything with the right spell, do people still draw the line at eating sentient, speaking creatures? Is Merrow Sashimi a thing?

For those into crafting food from monster ingredients, I'd recommend the videogame Battle Chef Brigade. So fun.
 


talien

Community Supporter
This topic - how do magical beast taste like, and what do they do to you, has been covered extensively by Skerples on his blog - I highly recommend it to any DM wondering "ok, they just ate hellhound meat, now what?"

That is ... astonishingly thorough, great find!
 


MarkB

Legend
Other monstrosities are not so easy to classify as a meal. Historical sources might be a guide. Basilisks and cockatrices in medieval bestiaries were affiliated with snakes and chickens, so they might be edible or poisonous depending on the source. Hydras seem lizard-like, but again have been associated with poison in historical sources so eating them might not be a good idea.
There are some advantages to hydras as a food source, though.

 

Ace

Adventurer
Last time I was in Neverwinter I had the Owl Bear roast at the Five Quills.

Worst of both worlds, greasy, bearish, gamey, chicken'y with a slight sparkly carbonated note since it was a magical beast . Safe to eat? Sure. Not recommended at all.

Great Tavern, good drinks, food and company. Awful awful dish.

OK more seriously, in game. I don't think my players ever tried to eat weird stuff mainly because its too rare and too risky. I run human centered games though.

Also eating a unicorn is big E evil , with shout outs to both Legend and MTG wicked folk will feat on a unicorn for various magical buffs (it serves as the material component for a bad guy version of Heroes Feast)
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
That is ... astonishingly thorough, great find!
Skerple's blog is a treasure!

And why not quote the Owlbear entry:

Owlbear
Flavour: sticky black flesh, like treacle with tendons, tinged with octarine fat deposits.
Notes: if cooked over a pure coal fire, gain +2 to the roll on the table below.
d10Roll
1-2Eggs. Save vs Poison (d6) You can Save vs Con to take 1d6 permanent Con damage and vomit up a huge clot of black tar and owlbear eggs. Otherwise, you take d6 poison damage per minute until you are cured or you die in agony.
3-4Sticky Meat. Save vs Con or lose any benefit from the meal, and spend the rest of the day coughing up black tar.
5-6Black Teeth. Your teeth are permanently stained.
7Delicious! Heal 1 HP, or 1 additional HP.
8Owlbear’s Sight. You can see 50’ in near-total darkness for the next 1d6 hours. Save vs Fear against bright lights.
9Owlbear’s Strength. Gain +2 Strength for the next 1d6 hours.
10Fortified. Permanently gain +1 Strength and +1 HP. You grow a few feathers or quills.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Article got me thinking it be fun to play a PC like Anthony Bourdain, travelling the planes eating anything and everything remotely edible. Always meant to read his book but just never got around to it.
Oooh, yes. This sounds good. I'm thinking an artificer who has created an entire set of gear for rendering foods and cooking delicious meals.

Concept does seem to be adjacent to another thread on this forum about if you eat the goblins you killed, are you evil? (I kind of skipped that thread)
 

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