|« Previous Article||Home||Next Article »|
God rest ye merry, gentlemen, and dare I say, let nothing you dismay, for Christmas is coming, the Swanna is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat, et cetera. Yes, it's that time of the year again, and I'm sure that those of you who have not stuffed yourselves silly over the faux-holidays that seem to run rampant in the less civilized parts of the world are champing at the bit already in anticipation of one glorious day of slightly disappointing presents, overcooked food, the TV Christmas film with advert breaks, unwelcome family members, angry rows, drunken debauchery, guilt for feeding the mass consumerism culture, and, of course, Internet withdrawal symptoms. Yes, this is indeed the most magical time of the year.
Of course, while you may be salivating like a mad dog at the prospect of that wonderful turkey, gammon, goose, duck, and every other kind of meat that can be crafted with love by a doting mother or other substitute family member, it is important to remember those of us in the world who are far less privileged than ourselves, who are fully deserving of our respect and all the help we can muster, who don't have these little luxuries we take for granted, like meat or fast Internet connections. Yes, I am talking about those poor, impoverished members of the Kanto world. Amidst all the revelry, spare a thought for them this Christmas. After all, how can they celebrate Christmas without any turkeys, or indeed, all those other essential meats that we know and love? They don't even have proper vegetables either, since all of them have faces (and consequently give anyone silly enough to be a vegetarian in Kanto an ethical dilemma and a half).
However, do not despair, for anthropological help is at hand! As any fool who has watched the anime knows, Father Christmas seems to manage just fine without his reindeer and magic elves, using Ponyta and Stantler for the former and Jynx for the latter (probably best not to look too closely into that). Likewise, the good folk of the Pokémon universe might not have their spuds and such, but they can certainly make do with what they have. Who knows? Perhaps next time you are down at the bargain supermarket like the cheap scoundrel you are, you'll glance right past that prize turkey and grab yourself a roast Delibird (look in the deli section. Serves 1 – ideal for pretty much everyone who plays Pokémon). You might even enjoy it, and hopefully your family might some day forgive you... So, sit back and relax, as we delve into this veritable festive feast dedicated to the last remaining Roman feast day nicked by Christians to serve as a somewhat arbitrary day for an important calendar event (combined with the Celtic winter solstice)... and always remember, if you haven't got a penny, a halfpenny will do, and if you haven't got a halfpenny, then God bless you!
Dear me, there's simply only one place we can start, and that's with the crowning glory—the turkey. Now, as a very British sort of chap, turkey has always seemed rather inferior to goose, but hey, we can deal with both. Indeed, most families in the Pokémon universe think the same way—by far the most popular meat at Christmastime is that of Swanna. While, yes, this is not a goose, and indeed, as a Briton I must object strongly to the eating of swans (only Her Majesty the Queen may eat them), such scruples do not exist in the incorrigibly Marxist Pokémon world (it's a totalitarian society with free health care, what's not to like?), where the inhabitants of Driftveil City do a roaring trade in whole Swanna every Christmastime. In June, when the Swanna have not yet flown south, the whole of Skyarrow Bridge is covered with giant nets, which the Swanna and Ducklett fly into before dropping senseless onto the bridge below, where they can be harvested for their meat and wings. Remember the Cold Storage in BW? That's where all the Swanna carcasses are stored for Christmas (Ducklett are generally used as sausage meat filler). However, some have insisted that the treatment of these birds is unethical, and more to the point, that birds falling onto the bridge carry the risk of falling on unsuspecting Trainers, especially considering the apparent tendency of all people on that bridge to immediately head for shadows as soon as they appear. Recently, others have begun to inch in on this lucrative business as well—Marvelous Bridge is host to a far larger Swanna population, and some have tried to train Jellicent to attack Swanna from below in exchange for the souls of Pidove. So far, however, these remain a minority in the market.
Of course, we must not forget that the Swanna craze is all very recent in terms of Christmas—up until a couple of centuries ago, Christmas as a festival was restricted to its area of origination in northern Johto. Here, there are all manner of myths surrounding the festival that are baffling to scholars even today, such as the belief that Delibird, most well-known for being an evolutionary dead end, would bring presents to good children on Christmas Eve. This myth probably originated from the pagan practice of catching Delibird alive and saving them to eat at religious festivals for their meat of choice—the rarity of the bird apparently adding to its worth, as well as the apparent pleasure derived from spit-roasting the bird alive. Other myths include the birth of Arceus in a manger while watched by all twelve 6th Generation legendaries, who then proceeded to create a Ho-Oh, the first legendary Pokémon, and then ate it with gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, it was a bit too powerful to serve as a turkey for mortal man. This seems fanciful, but the fact remains that there are few poultry substitutes in any of the regions that come close to Swanna—although Pidgey, Spearow, Taillow, Starly, and Pidove are to the denizens of the Pokémon world what chicken is to us. (On an unrelated note, never eat at McWhitney's—you will regret ever touching their Pidgey McNuggets.) As such, when Christianity came to the other regions of the world, people were hard-pressed to find birds rare enough to make a special treat, but common enough to catch in bulk quantities—Farfetch'd, Togetic, and Altaria were birds of note. It has been noted by the anime Pokédex that Farfetch'd taste excellent when cooked with their sticks, but this has no experimental backing. Interestingly, it has been postulated that selective farming and re-release of these birds resulted in their lowered ability to defend themselves in the wild, compared to those of similar species. It is also interesting to note that Christians are forbidden to eat Hoothoot by the Bible. Oh, and a paper published recently claims that pagan festivals that were eventually incorporated into Christmas were originally designed to attract Togekiss by an outpouring of joy and happiness, before they grabbed the unfortunate bird and twisted its neck.
In any case, nowadays, roast Swanna is pretty much the norm in any region, barring the most backwards ones. But whatever meat you choose, whether it's Delibird, Swanna, or Psyduck, you simply cannot have your bird without your accompanying meat. Now, it's accepted by every sane person that gammon is the only acceptable second-in-command as far as Christmas meat goes, and an excellent accompaniment it is too. For the Americans among you, I suppose you could describe gammon as a "ham"—and no, it isn't a ham. It's more like a steak of bacon, but thick and generally honey roasted (although I prefer it without). Rather splendid. Anyway, it's a great meat to pair with turkey, or indeed Swanna. Here, thankfully, there are far more options for the Pokémon substitute. In the original Christmas feasts, the gammon came from Piloswine or Swinub that were harvested from the same areas as Delibird, but more recently, Emboar and Pignite (or Tepig, even) have become far more popular for their significantly stronger smoked flavor. As a fan of unsmoked (also rindless and only from the back—not streaky, ugh) bacon, I much prefer the Piloswine meat, but to each their own. These creatures are also excellent for those other absolutely essential Christmas comestibles—the chipolatas and the pigs-in-blankets (although I detest streaky bacon, so prefer the chipolatas on their own). As such, the Emboar now form a significant part of the classic Pokémon Christmas dinner, although now that wild Mamoswine have been found in Unova, the ample meat source that they provide may prove to overtake the Emboar meat in the future, if it can be bred cheaply. As for the honey, it is typically provided by Combee farming, as Beedrill honey is famously bitter.
Now, what meats are we missing? We have pork, gammon, and poultry—what's missing? Ah, yes, lamb and beef. While not traditional parts of a Christmas dinner, a good lamb or beef sausage is never a bad thing by any stretch. You can quite easily get good lamb from Mareep or Flaaffy farms, or even from Ampharos, which taste far better but are far harder to catch. In terms of beef, while your typical fast food restaurants such as McWhitney's may well advertise their beef burgers as being made of "100% Miltank," you should know that Miltank meat is horribly gristly and fatty. If you get the chance, buy lean Tauros meat wherever possible. Here we should also mention the suet—the lard that is absolutely necessary in order to make most Christmas puddings (after all, there's nothing like a good suet pudding—and yes, I know they're not the same thing). Suet, by contrast, is most easily obtained from Miltank, who have so much lard to spare it's practically costless. Finally, the gravy... Now, I don't like gravy much. Dry meat is infinitely preferable. But for sake of argument, if you want gravy, remember to collect the juices from the Swanna or other meat while you're cooking it. Alternatively, just use cube gravy. Either works.
Of course, just the meat would be pretty bland on its own—like it or not, we need these vegetables. And really, who can say no to a fantastic, steaming plate of crispy roast potatoes? Well, unfortunately, our deprived friends over in the Pokémon world simply do not have that option, as there is pretty much nothing that vaguely equates to that particular tuber in existence, with the exception of Stunfisk, who isn't exactly a vegetable (it's hard to tell, I know). Still, needs must, and as the good folk of Kanto say, "when times are hard, eat a Geodude, and when times are soft, eat a Chansey." That's sage advice right there. Anyway, the only thing that comes even vaguely close to a root vegetable is Oddish, which is unfortunately more closely related to the radish, which is not remotely as tasty. Even so, it's a good substitute, since it stores far more starch than an ordinary radish on account of the necessity of, well, moving around. Interestingly, this mechanism means that most Grass-types are very tasty. While only the leaves of the plant are poisonous, the Oddish tuber should be thoroughly boiled and washed to remove any trace substances that may remain. As for roasting, some very boring people have recently suggested that Sunflora oil is far better for you than the traditional Miltank butter or other animal fats—but as we all know, there is absolutely no substitute for Swanna fat. Make sure you get every last bit of the stuff out of the Swanna, because, by gum, they'll make your chopped Oddish good. If you really don't like Oddish, though, some people eat Energy Roots instead. Apparently they're pretty bitter, though. Even more unfortunately, you'll have to do without the parsnips. There's nothing even remotely similar to them anywhere.
Nobody likes Brussels sprouts, but apparently the good folk of the Pokémon world found it necessary to attempt to find some sort of green vegetable that wasn't tall grass. Even though Brussels sprouts are pretty much just tiny cabbages, it's a challenge to find anything even remotely resembling them. At the moment, the most common substitute used is Budew, which, like Oddish and, indeed, real Brussels sprouts, is highly toxic. A more substantial bite can be found in sliced, candied Bulbasaur bulbs, which taste far more like onion or garlic (depending on the strain) than Brussels sprouts, making them far more desirable. However, even the richest families in Kanto can only afford to serve one Bulbasaur bulb between them, as, owing to its severe rarity in the wild, it is a protected species and thus very expensive. Very recently, however, scientists have been able to force Bulbasaur stem cells to form immature bulbs in vitro, which could in the future be mass-produced to provide greenery for all. Alas, until then these poor individuals must stick to eating the tall grass (which is actually not that bad with a bit of butter and a sprig of mint). Oh, and surprisingly enough, the Pokémon world has yet to find an appropriate substitute for the carrot. Alas.
If you're the sort of misery-guts who thinks that somehow their life is improved through a lack of meat—and yes, these sorts do exist even in the Pokémon world—you probably aren't going to enjoy a Christmas dinner in Kanto, as there's meat, meat, and more meat, but not half as much green stuff to go around. Still, all is not lost—for a hefty fee you can purchase a Quorn-style mycoprotein faux-Swanna, which tastes like some sort of cross between egg-box cardboard and sandpaper. This is made, like the Protein item, using genetically modified Shroomish, as, because of the lack of any microorganisms of any description in the Pokémon universe, there isn't any yeast to mess about with. The mycoprotein is mixed with egg to make it have something in it other than protein, and the resultant mash is sold at exorbitant prices to anybody who seems to be seriously worried about their low-density lipoproteins. Interestingly, this is also how Pokémon food is made—most Pokémon just assume it's either meat or vegetable according to their tastes. To be honest I'd stick to a packet of crisps, but that's just me.
Now, how could we forget the stuffing? Now, I confess, I was never a great fan of stuffing, until I realized how quite excellent it could be when done properly. However, unfortunately the Pokémon world doesn't quite have the vegetable diversity to create such miracles as sage-and-onion or oatmeal stuffing, or even chestnuts. As such, stuffing for Swanna is usually nothing more than a bit of Emboar sausage-meat with a few herbs and spices thrown in. It's a shame, but you can't have everything in life. As far as the sauces go, as everyone knows, mint sauce goes with absolutely everything and tastes fabulous. But without any mint, how on earth do you make mint sauce? Well, Revival Herbs are a pretty good substitute, with that slight bitter taste that makes mint sauce so unbelievably excellent (and if you don't agree, then you don't deserve mint sauce anyway so yah boo sucks). Some people also use bread sauce, or so I'm told, which is basically just milk or butter with breadcrumbs added for thickening, all of which are perfectly obtainable in the Pokémon world. In addition, some people like to add sliced Bulbasaur bulbs for added flavor—once the poison has been soaked out, of course. Oh, and as any fool knows, turkey's precise complement is cranberry sauce (as mint sauce is to lamb, horseradish sauce is to beef, et cetera), but unfortunately there are no cranberries in the Pokémon world. There are a variety of Berry sauces, though, so they have to make do with what they have. Poor things.
I'm not a pudding person normally, but heck, it's Christmas, and we're being spoiled rotten by every member of our extended family, so we can get off our high horses and dig into the sugar. What's up first? Why not start with a nice, tasty mince pie? Everyone loves mince pies. Unless you're American and don't know what a mince pie is. For sake of argument, a mince pie is a pastry that generally contains fruit, sugar, that sort of thing, but is named because it used to also contain mincemeat as its primary ingredient. So, from where do you get your pastry? Well, obviously milk and butter aren't hard to find, thanks to the colossal numbers of Miltank being bred for their MooMoo Milk, cheese, yogurt, leather, guitar strings, and of course for McWhitney's famous Big Anoraks (made from 100% Miltank meat, only £3.99 at participating restaurants *jingle*). But really, any kind of fat will do. And you can easily obtain flour by throwing any old Grass-type into a thresher—most of them have enough starch grains hidden away in there to make plenty of flour, at least once you've cut away all the goo and dribble. Baking powder is easy enough to find if you want it, what with the flourishing chemical industries in numerous regions. Oh, and add a pinch of salt or sugar or something to make it taste like something. Mince pies used to contain mincemeat, so you can stick the leftover bits from your slaughtered Mareep or Tepig in there if you want. But most people seem to put fruit in there. Boring, I know, but that's what the good people of the Pokémon world seem to enjoy.
There's plenty of decent fruit in the Pokémon world, ranging from the bananas around Tropius's neck to whatever it is that grows on Snover's back to those apple-shaped things that are never properly specified and only cryptically referred to as "Pokémon food" (seriously, what even is that stuff?). But the fruit that the good folk of the Pokémon world usually put in their mince pies tends to be Berries—yes, I was told that strange Berries were poisonous when I was a child too, but apparently this common-sense advice is ignored. Anyway, the sort of mince pies you can buy at the supermarket generally contain either Pecha or Mago Berries, both of which are very slightly sweet, slightly moistening (nobody likes a dry mince pie), and very cheap to produce. Plus, a Pecha mince pie can save your life if you accidentally don't prepare your Oddish, Budew, or Bulbasaur correctly. On the other hand, those who make their own mince pies tend to use more expensive and more satisfying Berries—Liechi Berries are immensely sweet and moist, and are also extremely spicy. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Salac Berries are the same, but with sourness in place of the spice, so you can have that sweet-and-sour mince pie you've always dreamed of (don't pretend you haven't). Lastly, Watmel Berries tend to be cheaper than the above, and are marginally less sweet, as well as, according to the latest medical journals, inducing far fewer hallucinations as a result of their consumption. However, they are also a little bitter, which ruins the taste for some people.
Lastly, nobody can do without the good old Christmas pudding. Or, indeed, the Christmas cake—both are perfectly adequate for a proper Christmas meal. Now, the Christmas pudding should, in order to be considered a true Christmas pudding, contain mostly plum—however, pretty much no Christmas puddings nowadays actually have these, and given that plums don't actually exist in the Pokémon world, substitutes have to be found. It is a general consensus amongst anthropologists that the Pokémon Christmas pudding originated in Sinnoh, where it was filled with crushed Cherubi and liberal amounts of alcohol, alongside the usual suet, sugar, and treacle. Suet, as previously mentioned, can be obtained from any obliging mammal that doesn't run fast enough, with Miltank or Ampharos generally being considered the culinary optimum (though Mareep is generally easier to catch and is less likely to kill you). Sugar is now manufactured or extracted in vast quantities from a number of sources, such as the spheres on a Sceptile's back, and the nodal regions of any Grass-type that stores sugar in its "stalk", such as Tropius or Snover. But really, if you grind any Grass-type down far enough and get rid of all the unnecessary bits, there's ample sugar in there. (Current industrial processes involve throwing random Grass-types into a huge vat and mashing them until they release their sugar. Those of the Grass/Poison typing are excluded for obvious reasons.) The syrup produced in the sugar refining is the treacle, and is readily available at very good prices. It is also worth noting that in the original Sinnoh Christmas puddings, the sugar and treacle combination was provided by the honey produced by Combee, which eliminated the need for the refining process entirely. In some parts of Sinnoh, such as Floaroma, Combee honey still provides the sweetening for these delights.
As for Christmas cake, we've already dealt with most of the ingredients—the various kinds of fruit, sugar, butter, flour, and the like are all accounted for if you have been following this article. This does, however, leave a few ingredients out that one would be well advised to think carefully about—most importantly, the eggs. Whence does one get eggs? Now, this is harder to answer than one might think. For the cake, Combusken or Blaziken eggs are typically best, as they are pretty cheap—their only downside is that they take rather a long time to boil, which is not a problem when making a cake. Combusken eggs are slightly cheaper than Blaziken eggs, but the latter are certainly richer. On the other hand, Chansey and Blissey eggs are immensely sweet and nutritious (I really hate that word, but there's no other word for it), and actually cause you to lose blood cholesterol (something to do with making the low-density lipoproteins feel bad about killing you), but are immensely expensive. Togekiss and Clefable eggs also fall into this category. As an interesting aside, a scientist was recently able to clone a Mew egg, which he was then able to use to create what he called "the most perfect omelet ever constructed by mortal hands." It was certainly the most expensive omelet, but I digress. There are some pitfalls that every egg connoisseur should watch out for. Ignore those who try to sell you "cheap Pokémon eggs" unless it is specified and verified that these are unfertilized Combusken or Blaziken eggs on the packaging, since, as every fool knows, most Pokémon eggs are laid only when the embryo is already mostly developed, so there will be little yolk or white and rather a lot of fetus in your cake. Furthermore, never buy a batch of Exeggcute. While these may look like eggs, they are actually vegetables and will make your cake taste foul, even if you are foolish enough to smash them and cook their cerebral matter into your cake after they have attempted to do you a misfortune with their powder attacks.
As for other little bits, we must consider almonds, of course, and other such hard bits for our cakes. Now, unfortunately there are few such Pokémon in existence that can substitute for almonds, but Seedot does a rather admirable job, though you must be sure to cut it into tiny pieces to get the maximum out of that slightly bitter taste, which is rather weak in most Seedot. Oh, and some people might also want cream cheese with their cake, or even cheese as a standalone! After all, who doesn't like a nice, nutty bit of Red Leicester, eh? Anyway, we all know you can't have any kind of proper meal without a decent cheese board. Now, every cheese board should have some Red Leicester, some Wensleydale, and some Cheddar (they just should; don't question it). Maybe you could include Double Gloucester as well. You should also have some soft cheeses (I personally can't abide them, but apparently some people like them), which will almost always be Brie and Camembert, some hard cheeses, which are pretty much limited to Parmesan, and some blue cheese, of which the best is clearly Stilton (but you can have Roquefort or Gorgonzola if you're a pansy like that). Now, yes, you should ideally have a goat's cheese as well, but there aren't any goats in the Pokémon world, so let's ignore that. Anyway, there are hundreds of different varieties of dairy Miltank all producing their own cheese, but one that particularly needs mentioning is the Unovan blue cheese, Scrobble, which is produced by an infection of Foongus spores during the creation process—so it must be eaten quickly before mushrooms begin to sprout, thus ruining the cheese.
And finally... the alcohol. This seems to be the sole item required for a Christmas dinner that not a single region of the Pokémon world has had any trouble in acquiring—and acquiring in some pretty massive quantities, too. In fact, they were so desperate that they seem to have attempted to create wine from pretty much every Grass-type in existence over the course of history—though the only wines that currently survive are those made from Cherrim, Exeggutor, Ferroseed, and the fruits of Tangela. These are apparently important for the cake, the pudding (where I grant it is necessary if only for the wholly imperative action of setting the thing on fire before serving it), and the mulled wine. Frankly I can't see the point of the stuff, but if you ever do find yourself wandering through the Pokémon world at Christmas, rest assured that there are plenty of places and ways to get yourself totally sozzled, if that sort of thing appeals to you.
So, this concludes our little gastronomic adventure. Deck the halls and come all ye faithful, for the Swanna is looking majestic, the Oddish are sizzling, and the Emboar smells divine. As we sit down to dine, let us remember those in this world less fortunate than ourselves. Those who do not even have a Swanna to compensate for their lack of turkey. But in this season of goodwill and cheer and what not, one cannot deny the importance of a grand, proper meal, cooked in an actual oven and served on actual plates, and shared with actual members of the family. Something that is common to all of us, not simply those who happen to be sharing the winter solstice continuation. So, when you're eating your Christmas dinner this year, think on all you have learned here, and be glad you're eating it. Especially if you're from one of those countries that don't just make up holidays for the sake of it (we have to take our excuses to relax where we can!)
So here we end. God bless us, every one. All the more so since we play competitive Pokémon. We need all the divine intervention we can get.
|« Previous Article||Home||Next Article »|