Every man who has had a voyage through the waters knows the worst bit of the journey, the daily ration of Stonetack, the "Immortal Bread". Stonetack is a form of biscuit made throughout Sarvonia for long trips. It is standard fare for sailors and soldiers in all forms of the army. What it lacks in taste, it makes up for its ability to be kept fresh for an unnatural period of time.
Often found in a dull Strata
yellow, Stonetack is unimpressive bread at first sight. Around two
palmspans in length and
width, the tack is a good-sized serving for a soldier on the march. It is
notorious for being tough to bite, as it is baked several times in order to
lengthen its lifespan. There are stories of soldiers needing to bash the biscuit
against a rock before any sizable piece is broken off for consumption. While
this is most likely false, there is no denying that Stonetack is an extremely
harsh meal. The stiffness of the bread has earned it the nickname "Searock",
Stonetack, while an unappetizing food, is used across Sarvonia because it is almost never goes bad. Captains have often filled a fair section of their holds with the bread so when the fresher provisions are used up, the sailors still have a meal to eat. When on long campaigns, quartermasters ensure that there is an ample supply of Stonetack available in case foraging for food is out of the question. When properly put away, Stonetack is known to last for years!
As for the taste itself, the Searock is known for nearly being tasteless. While a tasteless bread does not seem like such a bad meal, especially on a long journey where food is rare, one must remember that the tack is incredibly hard. After one finishes grinding the tough meal up, their reward is only a stiff, tasteless experience. Often, a soldier’s ration of stonetack is placed in his bowl of soup or stew, as the hot liquid will soften the bread and allow easier consumption.
While Stonetack is considered an inedible ration amongst the humans, the dwarves, with their love of tough foods, have adopted it as a delicious snack of theirs. As they have no problem chewing the rough food, it has transformed from an unwanted, tasteless biscuit, into a delicious bread. A receipt for authentic Thergerim Stonetack has been added alongside the standard one.
The main usage of Stonetack is on any extended voyage. Its ability to stay fresh
(a term used loosely) makes it an invaluable provision on these long voyages.
Whether on the march with soldiers, or sailing the distant seas with sailors,
Stonetack is a staple of every man or woman’s diet.
Along with the obvious use of food, a less official use of Stonetack has arisen. Due to its density, it is always available as a fallback weapon should the owner lose theirs, or not have one in the first place. While never officially reported, there are several suspected killings aboard ships where a corpse was found bludgeoned with a heavy object, and crumbs and pieces of Stonetack surrounding the body!
Origin. While never documented, the originators of Stonetack are thought to be the Avennorians of Manthria. The whalers often needed food that would last for sometime when out in the seas, as normal fare such as fruits and vegetables would go bad during long voyages. With the strong need for a food that would ‘stay fresh for years’ increasing; Stonetack was created in one of the port cities of Manthria.
Since its birth in the province of Manthria many years ago, Stonetack has gone on to become one of the most commonly eaten foods all across Sarvonia. It has been adopted not only by the sailors, but by soldiers on campaign, adventurers on long trips, explorers heading into the untamed wild, and by monarchs to feed their people in times of hardship. One can find this Sailor’s Bread almost anywhere in Sarvonia, and they’ll always find someone willing to trade their Stonetack for a more proper meal.
Method of Preparation. The making of Stonetack is an incredibly simple process. Flour of any kind is mixed with water and, if the baker is generous, salt. The stiff dough is then placed in a preheated oven and baked for around an hour. Recipes from bakers insist that if the bread is still damp in anywhere, it should be baked again. On longer voyages, the Stonetack will be baked several times to ensure maximum length of storage.
After the Stonetack is baked several times, it is then stored. Not any container will do, as it must be packed as tightly as possible to ensure that no water seeps in. The wood must also not impart any odor or taste into the Stonetack, so that it is not ruined before consumption. Once packed tightly, the Stonetack is ready to be stored away for its journey.
Authentic Thergerim Receipt. This authentic receipt for Thergerim Stonetack was provided by a Kavoninn Yabarra (dwarven bachelor) who runs a small bakeshop in the northern octant of Ximax, catering to the large expatriate dwarven population in the area. We appreciate his translation, complete with dwarven measurements, and the fact that, as he assures us, he has not adapted the receipt for human tastes in any way; if you choose to follow this receipt you may be a bit sore of jaw but comforted in the fact that you have eaten authentic dwarven cuisine. Enjoy!
Thergerim Stonetack Receipt (with Tharian commentary)
One cauldron of Margert (beerley/barley flour), coarsely-ground
(Note: to the Thergerim, 'coarse' means fragments the size of actual barley grains are quite acceptable. 'Slightly bruised' might be a more accurate human description...)
Two alehorns of rye flour, anyhow
(That's what he said, 'anyhow'. We are not sure exactly what that entails, but we suggest adding the rye flour rather than omitting it. )
One half-palm of rocksalt, crushed with basalt mortar and pestle
(Note: apparently it MUST be a basalt mortar. Tiny particles of the stone are thus incorporated as 'flavoring' and 'texture' into the finished bread. )
One to three ladlefuls of Krahgi (Kragghi, Kraggy) sap
(This amount of spicy red gel turns the dough a dark red colour and makes it exceptionally - er - fiery. However, it improves the already exceptional keeping properties of Stonetack to the extent that the finished 'bread' is no longer susceptible even to molding. You have been warned.)
'True groundwater,' as necessary
(By this, our baker seems to specify the slightly sulfurous or variously tangy waters that the Thergerim drink from their underground pools and springs, strongly scented of the various regional earths. We might best translate this as 'horrendously expensive imported underground spring water', for imported it is, in barrels priced higher than ale, for the nostalgic dwarven bachelors who live Aboveground in our cold and agoraphilic human realms...)
Mix everything together. Shape into shapes. Bake in a stone oven until completely dry but not burned. Store anywhere.
When pressed, our baker
conceded that 'shapes' often mean the simple-to-form and easy-to-stack discs of
flatbread that our sailors would recognize as Stonetack, but also the more
elaborate 'batons' and 'clubs' of longer, cylindrical loaves, and even 'Hoop
Stonetack' (which is strung on twine and hung to store) or 'Bracelet Bread'
(rings and torcs in both wrist and neck sizes, sturdy enough to be worn as
ornamentation but which can serve as an emergency ration if need be...
Importance. The need for Stonetack on any long expedition is paramount. Its ability to stay fresh makes it invaluable on ships, supply trains, and in the packs of those on adventures. The tack has come along way from being aboard only Avvenorian whaling ships, and can now be found all across Sarvonia. Anytime a ship is preparing to sail, Stonetack is needed. Anytime soldiers are preparing to march, Stonetack is needed. Anytime men and women are preparing to venture into the unknown, Stonetack is needed. - Despite its horrid taste, Stonetack is always needed.