June 27, 2012
Posted by Mike aka Mightily Oats
Howdy, y’all! Welcome to another episode of Cooking with Oats.
Today we are going to explore the dark and mysterious arts of Cajun cuisine. Cajun cooking can trace its roots directly to settlers from the great bogs of central France who, though they loved their homeland, found it to be lacking in giant alligators, devastating hurricanes and mosquitoes big enough to be ridden into battle. After establishing themselves in the New World and failing to sell their services as light airborne cavalry they fell upon hard times. With no means of bringing money into their coffers they were forced to live off of the land. This involved dredging the bottom of the bayous and throwing anything that moved into a cooking pot. At the time this was looked down upon as ‘I-dare-you to-eat-that cooking’, but after working with the same PR agency that worked with Apple Computers and the Catholic Church it has become ‘haute cuisine’.
To really get to the soul of Cajun cooking I needed to get to the heart of the bayou and get my hands dirty. I rented a chalet in southern Louisiana, booked my flight, strapped on my cooking pot and headed for the airport.
After a 36 hour flight in a plane that had all of the flight characteristics of a brick, and a restroom that looked suspiciously like an empty coffee can, I landed at the airport. When I say “airport” I mean a flattish field with a shack covered in rusty corrugated steel with an antenna and a tattered windsock sprouting haphazardly from its roof. On the door of this shack hung a sign that read “Meet The Mimeoplasm!” I had reserved a rental car before leaving, and since this was the only building that I could see for miles around I opened the door.
Inside the shack was a hideous, misshapen creature sitting at a card table. On the card table set a World War II era radio covered by a mountain of empty Yoo-hoo bottles and festering cans of Spam. In the corner was a cage covered with a filthy tarp.
“Are you… The Mimeoplasm?” I asked the creature.
“Shoot naw, ‘m Bob!” which he tried to reinforce by pointing to the name tag on his disgusting overalls “Dat der’s The Mimeoplasm.” He said, gesturing with a hand-like claw toward the cage. “You wanna see it? Only two dolla’.”
Believing that this creature had actually eaten the real Bob and was wearing his clothes like a primitive hunting trophy, I decided to play it safe and humor this creature. “Um, sure.” I said, handing over two dollars.
Walking ponderously over to the cage, he grabbed the tarp and ripped it off with a flourish. Bob flashed me a smile populated by one lonely, yellow tooth and asked “Well? Wha’choo t’ink?”
Not wanting to anger the beast, I peered into the cage. “Is it in the slime?”
“It IS de slime!” He said proudly.
“Ah… yes… very nice. Well, I rented a car and…”
“Here, hold dese!” he said, shoving a dead rat and a dead alligator into my hands that he had mysteriously produced from the unspeakable depths of his overalls.
“Trow ‘em in de cage” he commanded. I did, happy to not be holding Bob’s carry-on carrion any longer, and watched as the pool of slime dissolved the corpses and immediately took the shape of a giant, hairy, bluish, blackish, greenish and above all, angryish rodent.
A few hours later I was starting to feel bad. Not because I had run out of that shack screaming like a banshee with Tourette’s syndrome, but because I didn’t ever find the car that I was supposed to be renting and my luggage was getting heavy. According to my map I was on the road that would lead me directly to my chalet. My surroundings had taken a decided turn towards the spooky, wet and all-around swampy. When I reached the end of the road I was gazing upon a house that was sitting out in the middle of a lagoon held above the water by rotting stilts. Banyan trees lined the edge of the water and logs and bright green flotsam floated lazily on top of it. Swarms of unidentified, biting insects hovered just above the water waiting for their next meal to stumble in range. I had made it. I was in the bayou, time to get cooking.
Not knowing how one actually goes about dredging for anything I decided to take the overkill route. Three nets, seven fishing lines, one crab pot, six bear traps and a barrel of dynamite later the water had yielded some tasty looking specimens. My nets were a veritable cornucopia of tender and juicy swampwalkers, which would be incredible if I could find a way to bring all of that flavor to my opponents’ table. It is an unfortunate truth that not everyone lives in a swamp, so we will have to bring the swamp to them.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is the easiest way to do this. Dropping this land on the table would allow every swampwalker to deal its damage completely unmolested, but we can’t rely solely upon one card to make this deck work. Evil Presence, Tainted Well, Contaminated Ground, Convincing Mirage, and Phantasmal Terrain will pull double duty by giving your opponents swamps to walk on and by getting rid of pesky utility lands. Another route could be Vedalken Plotter and Political Trickery which allow you to steal their pesky utility lands and use them against them while saddling them with one of your swamps.
Now that we can do home delivery we need a delivery boy. Legendary swampwalkers like Wrexial, the Risen Deep will let you use your opponents’ instants and sorceries in their graveyard for free. Sheoldred, Whispering One will thin out your opponents ranks while resurrecting your own fallen creatures. Sol’ kanar the Swamp King is a certifiable swampwalking badass. The major problem I found was that none of them had access to green and you can’t have Cajun flavor without the bayou and you can’t have a bayou without green. I wish that horrible monstrosity that lived with Bob had swampwalk, it’s got all the right colors. Hold on a tick, The Mimeoplasm could have swampwalk if it stole it from a dead creature.
So how do we get swapwalkers into the graveyard you may ask? The old fashioned Cajun way, we dredge for them. Life From the Loam will get back lands we end up dredging, Stinkweed Imp will be an excellent chump blocker, Moldervine Cloak is a recursive buff and Nightmare Void will let you send the biggest creature you can find in an opponent’s hand to the graveyard so The Mimeoplasm can eat it. Another route we can go is by using looter card drawing effects like Read the Runes, Frantic Search, and Pulse of the Grid. They will keep your hand full and get those swampwalkers in the dumper.
Now we need some meat for this jambalaya. (Fun Fact: Jambalaya is Latin for “A jumble of ingredients that the chef lied to you about putting in your soup.”) Wrexial and Sheoldred definitely go into the pot as well as the best swampwalkers we can find. Street Wraith can cycle, putting himself in the graveyard without any help. If you have creatures that don’t have swampwalk in your deck Filth can give it to all of your creatures if he is in the graveyard. Cheap creatures like Marsh Boa, Quag Vampires, and Plague Beetle can help start your assault on their taste buds as early as possible. If you are one of those fortunate enough to own any of the Zodiac swampwalkers from Portal 3 then I hate you. Grab yourself as many as you can and drop them in the pot.
Now that we have a horde looking to take a stroll through our neighbors marshlands we should probably arm them to the teeth. I’m thinking that this is a great opportunity to use all of that insane equipment that just never makes the cut. I’m talking about Elbrus, the Binding Blade which is kind of like a switchblade with a 13/13 intimidating, flying, trampling demon on it instead of a knife blade, or hitting that “50% off sale” with Quietus Spike. Inquisitor’s Flail and Fireshrieker will double your damage, Bonehoard can capitalize on all of your dredged creatures, and Mask of Memory fits the whole theme perfectly. The Swords of Price and Ubiquity, especially the Sword of Body and Mind, will fit nicely as would oddities like Spellbinder, and Worldslayer if you have a hard-on for nuclear deterrents.
Creature enchantments like Curiosity, Keen Sense, and Ophidian Eye can help with keeping your hand full. Rancor and Aspect of Mongoose will keep coming back to your hand to give your surviving ‘walkers a little extra boost. One with Nature will let you ramp up your land total every time your enchanted swampwalker makes it into the red zone. And, of course, you could be a horrible human being and put Corrupted Conscience, Phyresis and Snake Cult Initiation in there.
I think we are about ready to serve, but we are missing the center piece. Heading back to the airport I opened the door to Bob’s shack. Bob was sitting at his table industriously mining one of his nostrils, staring reflectively into the middle distance.
“Ahoy, capon! What bring you back he’a?” he said, examining a nugget he had just extracted.
“I want to buy The Mimeoplasm from you, Bob. How much money would you need to part with it?” I asked.
“Ah shoot, it’s priceless, bon rien.”
“I’ve GOT to have it, Bob. I’ll give you whatever you want.”
“Fo’ true? Well… You do have a purtty mouth. You gonna do some prayin’ for me, boy. And you better pray good.”
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Now, I will admit, I was spoiled for choice when firing up this dish. There were some fun little cards that could easily go into this deck if you wanted to spice it up. What about swamp ninjas? Sakashima’s Student, Silent-Blade Oni, Ninja of the Deep Hours or Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni could all find a home in the bayou. Swamps-matter cards like Thelon’s Chant, Spreading Algae, Roots of Life, Nature’s Wrath and Korlash, Heir to Blackblade could be fun as well.
Now I need to order a tanker truck of mouth wash and go have a good cry.