Mortar, Pestle, & Pot
by Milie Hawkwing
Potions are not designed to be tasted. When surrounded by a horde of chest-thumping trolls, the average adventurer will not stop to savor his drink. Even some seasoned warriors cannot tell the difference between a Magicka potion brewed from Elves Ear and Briar Heart from a Health potion made from Wheat and Imp Stool. Yet just as food has health and stamina benefits, so too does alchemy have flavor.
In fact, the taste and effectiveness of both food and alchemical potions are dictated by similar variables. Preparation, ingredients, and skill of the chef. For example, cooking a piece of salmon is known to provide more of a recovery boost than eating it raw. Stews that combine multiple ingredients tend to provide better endurance and restoration than single cooked meats. Different brewing processes for alcohols provide different stamina boosts and long term enervation. As for alchemy, potions that include unsavory ingredients such as Giant’s Toe often have a sour, acutely fungal taste, but can be masked when combined with a canceling agent.
There is also plenty of crossover between the arts. Garlic is a key ingredient in both cooking and alchemy, and the Khajiit dish Elsweyr Fondue utilizes the same Moon Sugar found in basic Restore Magicka potions and the recreational drug Skooma. Naturally, a potion brewed from Moon Sugar will be noticeably sweeter and have greater side effects than the same potion made with Ectoplasm or Human Flesh. The skill of the alchemist and quality of the alembic will further give each potion a distinct flavor.
The relationship between the two has resulted in many chefs experimenting with alchemical brews to bring out new flavors to old dishes. To provide an extra kick of warmth, some culinary masters enjoy using a Resist Frost potion made of Juniper Berries and Moon Sugar as part of a sauce or gravy mixture. Others chefs have tried using the traditionally alchemy based ingredients themselves as spices, garnishes, and spicy garnishes, with a peppering of vampire dust a particularly popular add-on for nocturnal events and festivals.
However, as some alchemical concoctions can have unintended side effects when mixed with other ingredients, you may want to first consult a qualified alchemist before attempting to cook with alchemy. Of course, the true adventurer inside and outside the kitchen can always make his own cure.