Conversations with the Grand Fiend: The Seasoning of Life

Contributor: Miles Gough

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I thought I might have offended the Grand Fiend. It was about the food. He was eating his old stand-by, Pickled Presbyterian's Feet and I had a thin crust pizza with extra cheese and garlic. I said with a mouthful of pizza, “Oh no, I can’t believe I’m eating this in front of you. I am so sorry.”

The Grand Fiend was his usual magnanimous self. “I will take your apology, for I am sure that you did something that deserves forgiveness, but I am baffled why your food would cause you to prostrate yourself so.”

I said, “The garlic. The extra garlic. I know you’re not a vampire, but I don’t know how if it affects you and I should have asked.”

The Grand Fiend leaned back, “And how does garlic affect the mighty vampire?”

I knew I was being set up for the fool, but I couldn’t stop. “Uhm. Well it’s anathema to them. They can’t be in the same room as someone who has garlic.”

“It is so good that the old propaganda still has its power. I am relieved that even you, one who is learning the ways of the nether beings, falls for it. Garlic, to ward off vampires. Isn’t that the quaintest thing.”

I put my pizza slice down. “It’s propaganda? So it does nothing to vampires?”

“Of course it does something to vampires, just the same as you. It makes them hungry.” He noticed my confusion and took a breath. “Let me ask you this. Who do you think first said that garlic was protection against vampires?”

He didn’t let me think of an answer before he shouted out, “Vampires. Vampires did it. Now, you ordered your pizza with extra garlic, because you love the taste of it. Vampires love their food, also spiced the same way. They like to bite into flesh that has the odor of garlic. So how do they make sure their meals are well-seasoned? Why eat people who wear garlands of garlic around their necks. How do you get the livestock to wear such ungainly necklaces? Why, spread the rumor that garlic will keep the creatures at bay. It’s brilliant marketing. The humans feel more secure, and the vampires get tastier feasts.”

“That’s amazing,” I said. “So all vampires love garlic that much?”

“Oh no, please don’t let me mislead you. They just don’t want bland food. Who does? There is a reason the folklore mentions a variety of herbs used to ward off vampires, because different vampires have different preferences. Some vampires spread the rumor that rosemary kept the bloodsuckers off, but they did that only because that was their favorite herb. You’ve heard of rosemary chicken? This is rosemary peasant.

“I know of one vampire that traveled through the countryside spreading different pieces of advice to each of the villages he entered. One village, he told them to use a poultice of thyme and sage, another was told to use garlic and another still to bathe in water and rosehips. He did this because on the evenings he wanted a garlicky dinner, he hunted in that village. If he wanted tender sweet meat, he preyed upon the village of the rosehips. The whole countryside was his spice rack.

“That’s the way to be. To create a variety of choices so that you will never be bored. If you have the same thing every day, dressed in the same manner, then you are nothing but old clothes and over boiled roasts. Live life with some fire, some taste.”

I felt excited about what he said, but I didn’t want anymore pizza. The Grand Fiend must have thought similarly, because he looked at the Presbyterian Feet he was gnawing on and sighed. “Yes, one must not be stuck in a rut. Let’s have a merry hunt. Shall we partake in a few pints of ice cream?”

And that is what we did. I got Rocky Road, and the Grand Fiend splurged on a large tub of Butter Blood-Clot Ripple.

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