By now you must be thinking, "These desert guys must really be drinking rediesel to be crazy enough to eat that!" Well, you're wrong! When the boys are thirsty, we hit Uncle Johnny's favorite watering hole—the Squirming Sandworm Bar, for good drinks and good times! Huh? Not old enough to drink? Bahaha, they serve camel milk for kiddies, too!
Now, underage or not, if you set foot in this desert, there's no avoiding this watering hole. Word has it that the bar owner is tight with Sinsa, so I suggest keeping your head down when you're here. Don't go acting all big and tough around these guys. Even without the Rediesel Wrench hanging around, the security turrets can shoot the piss out of you faster than you can apologize. Why, just a week or two before I started writing this book, I saw a bunch of hot-headed punks trying to stir up trouble in the bar. So what happened next? Every one of 'em was taken care of by concerned bullets in under two minutes! Drink responsibly and be polite, if you don't get the chops to put up a real fight.
Now, the tequila they make here is really unique. Other places, they mix their agave with cactus, throw in a few leaves, and leave it to rot in a barrel. The final product is about 70% of this slop, 20% rediesel extract (rumored to be the only way we ever drink it out here!), and 10% sand. This is piss tequila, no matter what you call it! But these guys, they're amazing. They use REAL blue agave (who knows where they get it from?) and nothing else, and their process is legit! They bake it in an oven for over 5 days at 700°F to release its natural juices, then use a wrench or a hammer to break the plant up and grind it down in a stone grinder. After that, they keep it in oak barrels for aging. (I wonder what an oak tree looks like?) When you pour it in a glass, it turns golden or brownish red, a real treat for the eyes! Take a lick of Northland sea salt, knock back a shot, and you'll feel like you swallowed the whole freaking sun! I can't recommend the stuff enough! The Anejo is what you want!
Also, it looks like they added a new cocktail to the menu recently. It's made with vodka, lime juice, ginger beer, a little love, and a lot of ice! I think it was called a "mule" or something. Either way, do yourself a favor and try it if you're in the area!
What's that? You're a vegetarian?! Please, that's no excuse to pass up camel meat like this! Just pretend it's fruit or something! I won't tell if you don't tell, okay? Just give it a try; I promise you'll be crazy for it after just one bite!
Back when Uncle Johnny was just a lad, I had the brilliant idea of crossing the entire desert on foot (a fool's errand, I know, but I can't help it if I got dropped on my head once or twice as a child, okay?). It was thanks to this lapse in thinking that I almost died out there. Had it not been for the Roving Camel Caravan passing by and digging me out of the sand, my goose would've been cooked! Not only that, but I got to taste some of the best damn camel meat in the world, so all's well that ends well! The camel was prepared by the caravan leader himself; I was hungry enough to eat the whole thing, so how could I refuse?
He served me up a freshly-cooked chunk of meat on a plate. It was perfectly charred on the outside, and you could still hear the camel fat crackle and pop. It looked thick and stringier than beef, but wouldn't you know it: the whole thing melted in my mouth like butter! The second you tear off a piece with your teeth, the meat practically glides down your throat. And the aroma? Let me tell you, it hit me like a camel kick to the face! The best part? This kind of pure, high-quality meat didn't need any sort of seasoning. They served it to me PLAIN! This stuff's good enough to make you want to strip naked and run through the desert for more (though I don't think the other desert folk would take too kindly to that...).
The camel we ate was chosen by none other than the caravan leader and yours truly. All the camels they had were fat and strong, so we had a rough time picking the perfect one. "Oh, that one with the nice coat eats too much, let's pick that one!" "Oh, that one walks funny because its legs are too long, let's go with that one!" "Hey, this one's all skin and bones, somehow! Can't be long for this world, I'd wager!"
In the end, we chose the fattest, oiliest camel in the lot. The caravan leader told us the sun was getting to be too much for this one, so he thought we should use it before we lose it. I couldn't see any health issues with the camel, but the Caravan assured me that it was fine, and the camel was perfectly safe to eat.
We spent the whole evening eating the entire camel. For the full experience, we paired it with some cheese made from its milk and some sand. It was the best damn meal I'd had in a long time, and that's saying something! After a couple of drinks, I asked the caravan leader, "Don't-cha feel kinda bad sometimes, slaughtering a camel this good?" So he told me, "What's there to feel bad about? Can't get new camels if we don't get rid of the older ones! Besides..." He took a huge gulp of camel milk, "This caravan's my brother's, and so are these camels! So eat your fill, and quit worrying!"
Anyways, vegetarian or not, you don't want to miss out on this "fruit" of the desert! Really, just think of it as fruit if you have to, and try it out! You won't regret it!
Spice! Heat! These are the real hallmarks of the Rediesel Desert! Spice that makes you shoot smoke and fire outta your ears and mouth! The heat will blow the top off your head! If you can't handle spicy foods, there's no way in heck you can handle the hardships of the Rediesel Desert, simple as that! There's an old saying that goes, "The only good fighters are the ones that eat their food spicy!"
Everyone knows how to make Hell Ramen, right?
Boil your noodles, then set 'em aside. Pour four bowls of water into the pot, add your concentrated pork bone stock and the extra-hot sauce, then throw in your egg or whatever sides you want. Done and done! (No need to refer to Uncle Johnny's recipe anymore!)
But today, I want to talk about a dish that goes far beyond this simple recipe. The hottest, spiciest, burning-est, brain-melting-est ramen I've ever eaten in my life: Eye-Pop Ramen Shop's very own version of Hell Ramen!
Their Hell Ramen includes a glass of water and a small bottle of milk, if that's any indication of what you're in for! When you order it, put some noodles and some meat in your spoon, along with some broth, and take a bite. Some people claim to have fever hallucinations after just one tiny mouthful of the stuff!
The first thing I noted after my first bite was an extreme dryness in my mouth, along with even more intense pain. Suddenly, a desert seemed to appear right before my eyes! It felt like I was stranded in the hottest, driest place on the planet. The earth was cracked and barren, and the sun was getting bigger and bigger. Every drop of moisture left my body, and my skin started to chip and fall off my bones. My throat was totally parched, and the desire to rip open my neck almost overcame me, so I desperately chugged the glass of water they gave me.
The sudden shock of water in my system made me so dizzy that I nearly passed out, but then the scene in front of me changed yet again! This time, I saw a green oasis surrounded by a veil of smoke, with beautiful men and women playing and splashing within (if my mouth and throat weren't killing me, I would've whistled at them!). Even so, they saw me and pulled me into the cool oasis, and just as I was getting comfortable... The lead girl of the group grabbed me and shoved me back into the sand! Unfortunately, the glass of water hadn't done the trick, and the spice from before came surging back. The sand beneath me turned to lava, and I sank deeper and deeper into it, until all that was left were my charred remains, and then... Nothing.
This was the full extent of the ramen's power. I drank the glass of milk afterwards and, like magic, my charred body became flesh and blood once again, and the nothingness dissipated before my eyes. The relaxing warmth I felt at that point was not unlike a nice, long soak in a hot spring (which will be the theme of our next entry).
And that was my experience with Eye-Pop Ramen Shop's signature Hell Ramen!
Curious, I asked the chef about its method of preparation, and the answer was shockingly simple: it was done exactly the way I described in the beginning! As for why it was so spicy, the chef said that the effect was accomplished with a very special seasoning.
What's the seasoning, you ask? It's their secret, so how would I know?!
I hear young people always talking about seeing the world and trying new foods, so why do they hesitate when it comes to the Rediesel Desert? C'mon, it's not like anyone's gonna force you to eat sand, you little jerks! Although, I do know that sandstone rice is an actual dish on Sharkfang Island...
Situated on the banks of Lake Emerald in the Rediesel Desert is a little place called Harvest Hamlet. Here, delicious foods and recipes from all over the world are collected, and every three years they hold a food festival known as the "Endless Eating Extravaganza". Dishes and ingredients of the highest quality from Lumopolis, Illumina, Northland, and even the Far East can be found here during the festivities. Sandstone rice, mutton stew, and egg rolls are just some of the delights you'll find here in this heaven for foodies! I think everyone should come here at least once in their life during this event. Hell, I was only three years old when I first went, and I had to cheat and steal just to try all the tasty foods out there! So you think I should've been responsible, and earned my food like a real man? What part of "I was only three years old" wasn't clear?!
I remember that year, clear as day: I was holding a roasted caterpillar in one hand, a Crunchy Munchy Crunch in the other, and I was chewing on some pop rocks when all of a sudden, I picked up on this faint, mysterious aroma. I followed it to an old, run-down stall. The owner was a young one-armed man. I can't remember exactly what he looked like, but I do remember he looked pretty young. What I'll never forget, however, was the food he was selling: king crab tenders.
The crab meat was clear as ice, with a red streak down one side. It almost looked raw, the way it was served! But when I took a bite, a strange, turbulent sensation took over. It was like a sweet and salty ocean wave crashing down on me. It was a feeling that I, in all my wisdom, had never experienced before: the sea.
The stall owner turned to me and said, "This is my life recipe."
Alright kiddies, time for Uncle Johnny to share some real-life knowledge with his younger readers. There are professionals in the world that go by the name of "food hunters." These folks chase the pinnacle of cuisine all their lives, hunting and scouring all over the land for the rarest ingredients, just to fulfill what they call their "life recipe." This guy was no exception. He had spent an entire year alone on the high seas just to catch the perfect king crab, then cooked it in seawater hauled up from the deepest trench and sprinkled it with the purest sea salt. This is what made his king crab tendies so damn delicious!
I never saw that one-armed man again. Maybe he was searching deep in the forests, or on the highest mountain, trying to capture another rare beast? Personally, I don't think a food hunter could be satisfied with just one life recipe. A dozen or two would do the trick, right?
What's that? Does Uncle Johnny have a life recipe?
'Course I do, and it's dead simple, too: boiled sandworm eggs! Just grab a few right out of the sand, and toss 'em in boiling water for exactly three minutes. You'll have the smoothest, whitest, tastiest sandworm eggs of your life! Simple, affordable, and convenient as all hell, since you can find the buggers' eggs all over the place!