Carthage

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Carthage is one of the most important seasoning agents used in Ghyllian cookery. Although it is extremely expensive, carthage is considered so essential to the cuisine of regions ranging from Jorvyll through the Plain of Brahang and on to the Andelphracian River Valley that any respectable Ghyllian kitchen would be incomplete without a canister of carthage sitting on the window sill. In fact, the Wallinger family of Undivaggen has been reported to purchase 5,000 gyups of the best quality carthage in anticipation of the annual New Year's Day feast and festivities.

History

Carthage was not always the rather expensive spice it is today. In fact, when it first came into common use, carthage was so cheap that it spawned the saying "not worth its weight in carthage" to describe a particularly worthless item. The expression remains in common currency, although now, of course, it makes little sense, and is the cause of confusion among young Ghyllians everywhere. Every ten to twelve years, this sparks a grassroots movement that cries for a Systematic Epistemological Action to eliminate the possibility of obfuscation.

The use of carthage first became widespread around -400 to -323 EC, immediately following the Battle of Barnum Stones. It is currently thought that the substance was first developed by the Looliers, who horded it in great hidden clearings in the Vale of Serdoch. It is unclear whether the substance occurred naturally in the region, or whether its development represents yet another of the irreparable debts we owe to the Looliers' incredible theoalchemical advancement. After the Battle of Barnum Stones, the Exingians raided the Vale and discovered vast quantities of the substance. They tasted it, and with a "what-oh, that's rather good!" decided to adopt the culinary use of carthage along with the various other Loolian technologies they discovered.

Initially, it was thought that the Looliers had stocked up enought carthage to supply all of Ghyll for all of eternity, but history quickly proved such simple-minded optimism utterly and completely wrong. Indeed, the carthage found in kitchens today is the last dregs of the original Loolian stockpile. Modern theoalchemists, technomanchers and historico-constructor linguologists are collaborating, or at least attempting to collaborate, on deriving the alchemical formula for carthage so it can be synthesized in a lab. Linguological reasoning suggests that carthage was initially created as the by-product of the process of "carthing;" that is, systematically removing all the liquid from adlorst seeds. However, it is possible that the verb "to carth" had a completely different meaning among the Looliers of long ago, and we are totally off track.

Cooking Uses

Most cooks agree that a pinch of carthage makes any dish taste "just mandible-lickin' good." However, it is an essential ingredient in lemming pie. As Blivingdel himself wrote in -23 EC:

A lemming pie is simplicity itself. What could improve upon the stark serenity of lemming, carthage and pure wheat flour, all baked together in fortuitous harmony?

Alas, not all of Ghyll's culinarily inclined denizens are inclined to wax poetic with Blivingdel about carthage. Speedish Chefs in particular are known for their disdain of the seasoning. Wilhelmina Corinne Bardway is especially harsh on the subject:

Over-used, and under-understood. Who needs it? Carthage is just a prop on which the weaker cook leans, reluctant to venture in to the realm of true spices and really live a little. True cooking, speedish cooking depends on finding the inner harmony of the spices, not some over-powering battle-relic that masks all subtlety. Carthage is boring. It's dull. And worse, it's plebeian.

However, as speedish chefery is less of a cuisine and more of a fanatical culinary cult, the standard Ghyllian should carthagize his food at will.

Citations: Battle of Barnum Stones, Exingians, Lemming pie.

--Lady Aleksandra 19:58, 31 May 2005 (EDT)

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