I have an increasingly tender spot for creative fandom spaces. Maybe it’s the years I’ve spent watching Star Wars fans rewrite canon through fanfiction. Or the stunning creations of Nintendo’s most ardent 3D printers. But taking the thing you love and creating something from it is fast becoming one of the healthier forms of fandom culture we have. And the avid fanbase of Final Fantasy XIV is no different.
So when I heard about Lemon Drop, an aspiring culinary artist who had taken their passion for the game and turned it into an online recipe and cooking course, my heart was very full. Growing up with a passionate Italian side of the family I had always been around people who adored cooking. It’s in my blood to make sure the sauce is from scratch and the wine is flowing.
While my love affair with the kitchen stopped short at impressing friends with homemade pasta, fans like Lemon Drop were creating something bigger. I had a chance to chat with them about inspiration, favourite recipes and how all of this links back to one of the most popular MMOs of our time, Final Fantasy XIV.
A Recipe Reborn
A Recipe Reborn exhibits all the clean-cut UI and dazzling photography of any nationally circulated foodie magazine. A minimalist layout boasting pages of delicious-looking food, from full-blown meals to adorable side dishes. You wouldn’t know it at a glance but everything here was inspired by Final Fantasy XIV in one way or another. How exactly a talented chef turns hours of an MMORPG into a growing gallery of inspired meals is surprisingly simple according to Lemon Drop.
“I wanted to learn more about Hydaelyn through the lens of culture and food.”, they say. “I think we can get a good understanding of what peoples’ lives are like from the food they eat. Final Fantasy XIV does a good job of painting a broad picture with regional ingredients and tribal recipes.”
Even in my early hours with the game, it is difficult to miss exactly how much detail has been poured into its place and people. Hydaelyn is a richly vibrant world for players to lose themselves in, an unfortunate necessity over the past year as our way of life was fundamentally changed due to a global pandemic. Lemon Drop is conscious of this change too and sought to be a better, more positive change in kind.
“I wanted to inspire people to cook. I think, now more than ever, we want to be involved with our health and nutrition, so my ultimate goal is to demonstrate and demystify how to make food from the game and hopefully, that motivates people to learn the basics of cooking.”
Hero of a Light Soufflé
In both the kitchen and Final Fantasy XIV, individuality and personal tastes count for a lot. My penchant for slightly too far gone caramel and healer classes is going to be different from Lemon Drop’s particular skills, and from yours in turn. This is itself part of the joy of cooking and expression through it – your palate matters most and your skill level is always going to be met with countless things to try and make. In that same vein, Final Fantasy XIV often meets you where you’re at, offering a community in troubling times and new skills to learn.
When I asked Lemon Drop about how they like to play, it yielded some surprisingly heartwarming results. “I love playing Black Mage, I will never get tired of the explosions and the satisfaction of sliding out of danger at the very last moment” they tell me, noting the importance of community in the game also. “I’ve been in the same Free Company for seven years, it’s where I met my husband and formed life long friendships with so many wonderful people. I also really enjoy the simple pleasure of smashing materia into dust when I’m trying to overmeld my gear.”
While A Recipe Reborn is currently home to dozens of recipes to try, Lemond Drop’s favourite from the game is pretty easy to recall when asked about. “I would say the Skybuilder’s Stew! The in-game recipe was just vague enough to give me lots of room for creativity, and there is so much lore about Ishgardian food that I can say fairly confidently that it is a true representation of what is served at the Firmament.”
Proof Is In The Biscuits
I knew I couldn’t run my mouth about my Italian cooking heritage in this piece without trying out a couple of reborn recipes myself! So today I rolled up my sleeves and attempted to make a light lunchtime snack of Doman Rice Balls and some Coffee Biscuits for good measure. The results, while certainly not as pretty as Lemon Drop’s, were bloody delicious.
Lemon Drop’s recipes are clear and concise with instructions of course, including fantastic video guides, but sushi rice and wet hands laugh at our best-laid plans. Still, my little dudes turned out alright and taste much better than they look. The same goes for my biscuits – as a coffee fiend I was dying to try these crumbly shortbreads and after infusing my butter with roasted coffee beans I started to wonder why I had never done it before.
If you’re interested in trying out the recipes featured here today and countless more head on over to A Recipe Reborn. Lemon Drop is currently in the process of planning new and improved content for the site including a full schedule of videos and live media! Keep an eye out for that in the coming months and be sure to follow them on Twitter for updates!