Some of them call themselves ‘culinaromancers’, others ‘enchanters of the plate’ or ‘table magicians’. Whatever name they give it, their art is the same; the creation of food that does more than fill the stomach and please the senses. Today this group of occultist chefs, known to the rest of the City as the Secret Circle of Edible Magic, will put on a public feast with which they will showcase their talents.
The true origin of the particular ‘magic’ that the Circle employs, and of the Circle itself, is unknown, except perhaps by the Circle itself; a shadowy organisation that only revealed its existence in 1945 after a long period of secrecy and hiding. Again, the exact age of the Circle is unknown to outsiders, but on occasion members have claimed the organisation is ‘hundreds of years old,’ or even ‘older than the City itself.’ Many commentators have questioned the veracity of these claims, particularly the latter which seems likely to have been a silly boast from a ‘table magician’ who was tired of hearing the same questions over and over.
Some critics have claimed that the Circle is an entirely modern construction, with only the illusion of a long history, whereas other studies have found links between their practices and those of 12th century witches and sorcerers, believing that their displays today may have developed from ancient chicken-killing rituals, and from the hedge-potions prescribed by witches for maladies such as hair loss and impotence. Whatever the truth of the matter, the Circle are keeping quiet about it.
Before you agree to attend today’s feast, known as the Enchanted Table, please bear in mind that you do so at your own risk, and that the MHS has described doing so as ‘potentially inadvisable.’ The Circle submits all food to be drugs-tested before consumption, and never has any dangerous or hallucinogenic substance been found, but some people are wary of their intentions. In fairness to the Circle, nobody has ever reported any negative effects from the ‘spells’ they cast on the diners, and it seems altogether safe. Despite this, there was something of a moral panic surrounding the festival one year when a diner died three days later. However, after an extensive autopsy, it was found that he had died of a pre-existing heart condition which had been triggered by the death of his pet cat earlier that day.
The Circle lays on seven meals, of which diners may choose three. Each meal is supposed to have some positive effect on the diner, and are listed in the Circle’s advertising materials thusly:
- Electrifying Carrot Soup – This soup will stimulate and boost your creative tendencies for at least three weeks.
- Resonant Crayfish – For the alleviation of back pain and posture improvement.
- Mystical Chard Pastry – Restores calm and peace to the inner mind.
- Numinous Sole – This fish dish is known to increase the sexual virility and attractiveness.
- Supernal Chicken Roulade – Enables the diner to sense spiritual presences.
- Lucent Berry Tart – Realigns the diner’s soul with the earth.
- Ethereal Sorbet – Grants a direct line of communication between the diner and the eternal celestial presence of Bathchubet.
Whilst diners are forbidden to describe their experience in any real detail, some have broken these rules (thereby being banned from any future Enchanted Table festivals). The folklorist Ignatious Mele described the spectacle to the Buentoilliçan Reader in 1992:
‘They are all very nice people, and you get to meet the chef, or food mage or whatever they call themselves, it’s all very pleasant. Then they sit you down at a table on your own where there is strange music playing and odd spots of lighting across the room. These change depending on which meal is being served, as does this strange pattern they put on the tablecloth with salt around the plate, before they bring out the food. The food itself is arranged on the plate in peculiar shapes and patterns, even the soup I got they served in three little bowls placed in concordance with the salt pattern. I thought it was three different soups at first but they all tasted the same. Sometimes the lights go off for a while, so you’re eating in the darkness, and they have a little man who sits next to you and tells you how to eat everything to that the spell is properly conducted. It was quite fun, really.’
When asked whether he had sensed any ‘spiritual presences’ or communicated with any gods, Mele replied that he ‘didn’t choose the sorbet, it sounded a bit intense, but I did feel something on my way home after eating the chicken; like someone was standing just by my shoulder the whole walk home. It was more comforting than scary or anything.’
Other festivals happening today:
- The Salt-Casting Festival
- The Day of the Broken Alliance
- You Are Inside an Apple’s Eye; a Festival of Misinterpreted Sayings