We call it Bog Stew because it always resembles the underside of a swamp. Mud soaked vines which have become flat transparent sheets the consistency of snot. We even put that in the recipe book. It’s a myth that there are any dead bodies in it. Corpses in bogs tend to mummify and would be much too large for a stew. We want those underground mushrooms almost powdery like compost potatoes.
You’re going to lose a couple during the organization of Bog Stew. The bog giveth and taketh away. Ingredients need to be hunted down and patiently stalked like skittish deer. It’s a wonderful antidote to the stresses of contemporary society, so I hear. There’s a berry with roots that extend beneath the layer of mummies. These berries can only be picked in a certain order, otherwise acid explodes from them at so much as a flick. When one’s face is melting, drowning in swamp mud seems as heaven compared to the present. Over time, the swamp swallows the body but seems to detest shoes. If you see a shoe in the bog when collecting stew, don’t pick it up. It’s still attached to a foot, and shifting that body will release layers of noxious gas that makes a hilarious sound, but when inhaled due to your laugher, disintegrates your bones in minutes.
Necter of the Bogs, some idiots have called it. The folklorist who asked for my recipe told me to use the word ‘vivacious’ when describing the stew somehow. She heard that people describe themselves as floating after eating a portion. Since she’s too afraid to go on an actual gathering expedition, what with the 30% chance of death and all, she doesn’t know that people actually float, and not just the bog mummies.
Only a few of us hear the call in our veins after ingesting the stew. They wander into the swamp. You can tell they’re for real because the vines of the trees follow them and close behind them like curtains. Then they are gently lifted up to the canopy like a baby with birds that we only ever see the undersides of. Sometimes, the birds make nests in the person’s stomach and that person never comes down. There’s always a chance the stew might keep you. Most make it back down, wander home, pick up a book, nap or something. No one remembers the canopy.
Like many old recipes I’m sure, Bog Stew is kept in the attic. No one really suggests it for family reunions, it’s more of an ambitious social thing. In the attic are grandma’s shoes. She never wore them, which is why they’re up there.
The folklorist told me that since all the professors are on strike, no one can send her money to return home. She gave up the idea of working weeks ago. Just thought she was collecting swamp recipes. She’s a little curious about how we live out here with no income or electricity. Never thought about it much myself. Occasionally, a child of our community will move to the city out of curiosity. That’s fine. People move around. But like the bog, the city givith and taketh away and we don’t ever see our children again after that. What the city gives us is occasional interest, like sneaky vines. Are there people who really live as we do?
I think it’s something to do with all that solid stuff they cling to. Window ledges, street lamps, steering wheels. A world of edges. When you’re that conscious of danger all the time you become afraid to move, thinking that you’re safe. It don’t make logical sense to me either, but that’s how people behave. I told that to the folklorist, but that doesn’t fit in with the mission statement of the book that she’s researching for her striking professor.
What a ‘self-indulgent’ paragraph that was. (That’s a term I learned from the folklorist) Anyways, Bog Stew is good eaten’. A little anticlimactic perhaps, when you realize that you and your friends just basically gathered up a pot of mud and set fire to it. Good god this is tedious. Writin’. Did it as a favor to the folklorist but never again.