Dungeons & Dragons Online

Fantastic Beasts and How To Eat Them: The Gelatinous Cube


Gelatinous Cube

A monster that many adventurers fear, and that most common people will never encounter. While it may look like it is as devoid of culinary value as it is of intelligence, looks can be deceiving. While the cube is infamous for its ability to paralyze and engulf targets into its acidic depths, these dangers can be quelled with a use of the Purify Food and Drink spell on the meat of a Gelatinous Cube after it has been defeated. Once cleansed, these flavors make it a worthwhile experience for the truly intrepid culinarians out there.

A quick side note on the spell Purify Food and Drink:

This spell is quite the useful one for any adventurous eaters, so many experimental kitchens have high demand for the more magically inclined individuals that are able to cast it. In fact, traditionally it goes the other way around as well. Its not just kitchens looking for individuals of faith and nature, but also holy places using those abilities to whip up dishes that other places just can’t.

In fact, there’s plenty of good reasons for it!

First, many gods find waste to be sinful. If other adventurers would just leave that Gelatinous Cube or Catablepon to rot because they can’t cook it up, suddenly you have some meat you can put to good use.

Second, cheap meat goes a long way to charitable causes. Soup kitchens are always focusing on providing the best with what they have available. Copper pieces stretch a lot farther when you can cook with what others consider trash. In fact, the Temple of Ilmater in Baldur’s Gate actually has Paladins and Clerics who assist in body disposal of different monsters that are slain specifically to retrieve them and purify them for the soup kitchen.

Finally, you can make some interesting dishes when you work with ingredients no one else can normally. While this might not be the most virtuous reason, I personally know some cooks in these kitchens enthralled by the challenge, and with results that speak for themselves. In recent years it has become more common for culinarians to make their way to certain soup kitchens specifically to try some meats and dishes they couldn’t find many places elsewhere. While it may not be the same quality as a high-end dining establishment, they made it for a fraction of the cost, and you'll get it for a fraction of the cost.

Back to the matter at hand, let’s discuss the anatomy of the Gelatinous Cube. While the cube looks like a completely homogeneous being, there are two distinct sections: the interior and the exterior.

The exterior has certain chemicals that are used to paralyze its foes before engulfing the victims it runs across. While they can normally stop an Orc in their tracks, once purified these just give an interesting mouth numbing effect, similar to extremely spicy chilies, or peppercorns from the eastern lands. Furthermore, after the cube dies, the exterior begins to dry out. It seems that any jelly that is exposed to air quickly hardens once the monster is slain. If you are looking for a consistent, gelatinous texture throughout the jelly when served, it is important to butcher the cube quickly and either cook it, or pack it into airtight containers for preservation. Some chefs have also made dishes that take the hardening into account, creating chewy, mouth numbing jerky. The exterior jelly is also often dried out on purpose, then pulverized into a powder for use as a seasoning, to impart that interesting mouth feel. One of the most interesting applications of this I've experience was using the powder on owlbear thigh before slow roasting it over coals. The fattiness of the meat was perfectly cut through with the numbing, spicy powder.

The interior jelly is extremely acidic, made for digesting and dissolving flesh. Once it’s purified however, this jelly only goes as far as causing an immediate puckering response from most who consume it. These days, some chefs have explored sweets that utilize this interior jelly. Taking this puckering factor into account and balancing it with large amounts of sugar makes for a great treat. This candy has become a massive hit with children in the cities, and a well-preserved gelatinous cube can sometimes net adventurers more money than the loot they found otherwise in the dungeon, assuming that they have connections to the kind of people that would buy it. Thankfully, transportation of the interior jelly is much simpler, because as the exterior jelly hardens, it creates a casing around the interior jelly, keeping it fresh until the outside is cut open and the inside also comes into contact with the air. Just like the exterior, this jelly is also sometimes dried into a powder for use in flavoring other dishes, to very different effect.

The internal jelly is also quite useful for the preservation of certain foods. Many vegetables such as cucumbers, onions, peppers and radishes, or even different meats can be placed into a jar full of this jelly. While this substance would normally dissolve the organic matter inside it, once it is purified that process is massively slowed down, and instead can be used for preservation, creating an inhospitable environment for any mold or gross things to grow. Over the course of a few weeks, it will become pickled, taking on the acidity of the jelly, but most importantly, the jelly is naturally packed airtight, forming a protective seal around anything placed inside. The very method that the cube uses to suffocate its foes, can keep your foods completely shelf safe. Just make sure to keep the jars in a cool dark place for optimal storage.

A warning for interested chefs: even after butchering and purification of the Cube, it is important to wear hand protection when working with the meat. While it may not be fatal, prolonged contact with soft skin can be extremely uncomfortable. Many cooks that haven’t heeded this warning and then touched their eyes or other sensitive area can attest that they learned not to make that mistake twice.

Example Recipe – Gelatinous Cube Puckers:

After purifying the Cube, the exterior jelly is removed and the interior jelly is scooped and then rolled into small balls, or molded into decorative shapes. Next, the jelly is then steamed until a cohesive and elastic texture is attained. This does not take too long, as it does not take much heat to set the jelly. You will know it is done once the jelly has gone from translucent to opaque. While hot, the jelly is then rolled through sugar. Some chefs have also included citrus zest or other fruit flavorings into the candy by mixing it into the jelly before steaming.

Example Recipe – Gelatinous Cube Jerky:

The exterior of the cube is cut off of the rest of the corpse and cut into long straight strips and then purified. These strips are seasoned with a mixture of salt and spices or even herbs and crushed peppercorns. They are then pressed between wooden planks that are lined with leather.

It is important that the interior jelly is completely scraped off before curing as even in a purified state, over the few days it takes to fully cure, the acidity can eat through the leather and impart a foul taste. The planks are then placed out in the sun for about a week, until the meat has become dry and chewy. This jerky can last for months and has become a popular type of ration among some adventuring parties as its unique and interesting flavor can be a welcome break from the otherwise dull iron rations and hardtack they normally rely on. And don’t even get me started on goodberries. I’ll take Gelatinous Cube jerky over those any day.

Hope you enjoyed this writeup. As always, check out eatingthedungeon.com for more writeups and weekly uploads. If you'd like to download these for your own table, this post is up on Homebrewery!

Let me know any other monsters you'd like me to cover or if you'll be including gelatinous cube jerky as an option for rations at your next tavern.

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