A lot of people will tell you that regardless of what you eat, you’re likely to feel at the very least nausea and at the very worst fevers, delirium, or death. The truth is, they’re probably right, but if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can reduce the probability of incurring the worst food-related debilitations to a very low order of probability.

Never Eat Out During a Siege

During the fateful siege of Bacharach by the Franconians, I happened to find myself a captive in the fair walled city for nearly a year. It was soon quite a challenge to satisfy my epicurean demands. By the end of eight months, food supplies were running severely low and my favorite restaurant began preparing the meat of animals that had been catapulted by the Franconians into the city. As a matter of course, the animals were in an advanced state of decay and had often been drenched in pitch and set alight before their launch upon the beleaguered city. I found this to be the standard course at all the restaurants and soon concluded my patronage. The taste of such food was not only offensive but the effects of consuming it were debilitating, to say the very least. By the end, people were eating things much worse than what was being catapulted at them, I assure you. Not I however! Every day, I paid the Franconians to smuggle in fresh bread, fruits, vegetables, chicken, venison, mutton, and wine, which kept me well sated through the duration of the city’s tragic devastation, capitulation, and ensuing massacre.

Just Be Aware of What You Are Eating

Although my own habits are refined far beyond the norm of common rabble, I am often disgusted to observe what people are eating these days. I’m convinced they aren’t even aware of what it is that they are putting in their mouths. Not long ago, I was visiting a grog house in the wild Balkans and found the bedeviled inhabitants of the establishment chewing on boots, pieces of wood, and dead rats. It was a distasteful scene, to say the very least, and had a brawl not broken out, I would have voiced my concern. The following day, there was no way to judge by the pile of dead outside the grog house how many had died from brawling and how many had died from unsanitary eating habits. In the end, though, one or the other shall relinquish us all from this life, so don’t make such a fuss!

Old Pagan Tricks

If you’re not afraid of practicing a little heresy to ensure your health, try out this pagan trick. Just sprinkle a little bit of ground horse ankle upon your food while discreetly chanting the name of the reliable old pagan god of the sea: Poseidon. It seems to do the trick quite nicely.

Don’t Eat Food in Towns Stricken With Plague

As a general rule, if the people in a town are plague-ridden, their animals are likely to be afflicted as well. You would be better off just to continue on your way. There are exceptions, however. Just last fall, when I was visiting Danzig at the height of a horrible pestilence, I enjoyed one of the finest presentations of lamb I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining upon. Just use your best judgment.

Know Who Is Preparing Your Food

The trick to enjoying a good meal is to have it prepared by the right person. But who is that?

As a general rule, the person preparing your food should be steeped in the profession. He should be besmirched with smoke, grime, and the most rancid of grease. He should be toothless, have open sores covering his face and neck, and be dressed in rags. His belligerent disposition will translate into passion and energy for his work. It’s the way it’s always been. Such trolls were ordained by God to prepare food and have His blessing. Any others who try shall only have His curse.

Never Ever Eat Dog Meat

Dog meat is just as offensive to the mind as it is to the body and spirit. Never ever consume such food under any conditions.

Some in Bordeaux will tell you that the yapping fiends known as “poodles,” which run wild through the fields harassing livestock, make for decent eating, but I would strongly advise against it. Eating any sort of dog is the first step to becoming a bloodthirsty Tartar and will bode ill indeed for the people of Bordeaux if they don’t cease consuming those tiny, yapping, fluffy-haired hounds.

Never Accept Food From
Gypsies, Turks, or the Welsh

Not all have the best intentions in mind for the hungry traveler. Many ignorant townspeople will be kind to you so as to be on the safe side just in case you happen to be a Tartar. Not all are so cautious …

Gypsies and the Welsh cast powerful enchantments on food that they offer to travelers. Should you be so foolish as to accept food from them, you could sprout elephant tusks, or useless, flimsy ostrich wings, or eyeballs in the pits of your arms! Those are the only three possibilities.

The Turks will give you food that looks and tastes normal but will dye your teeth green! The effects last several hours and will amuse the Turks to no end.

- - -

Dining out is quickly becoming an experience that puts you in only slight mortal peril. If you heed my advice, I think you could increase your odds of coming out alive by a substantial degree.