The leather-bound cookbook contains three-hundred seventy-seven recipes, including instructions for preparing alligator skin, thickening petroleum into flan, and slow-cooking ingots of iron until they’re tender enough to swallow. Before all of this, however, the text begins with a set of initiatory instructions, required for the chef to “survive their own work.” These instructions are as follows:
1. The initiate must obtain a live starfish, as well as an aquarium by which to keep it alive. The optimal specimen should be at least twelve inches across, when measured from the end of one arm to another.
2. The initiate should measure each of the starfish's arms, from its mouth to the end of the limb. Whichever arm is longest should be removed with a single stroke of a brass knife, taking care not to wound the star's central body or organs. This amputation should only be performed on the night of a new moon.
3. The severed arm should be stored in a glass jar filled with water, vinegar, and salt.
4. The starfish should be allowed to heal over the next six lunar months, feeding it only live, whole mollusks. Once the removed arm has fully regenerated, the regrowth should be removed, taking care to use the same brass knife. This should also only be performed on the night of a new moon.
5. As before, the severed arm should be stored in a jar filled with vinegar and salt. The initiate should keep this limb in a separate jar from the previous removal.
6. The procedure should be repeated every six lunar months, until the initiate has in their possession seven exact copies of the same limb, each pickled in its own jar.
7. The initiate should consume each of the starfish’s pickled limbs in the chronological order that they were severed. They should make no effort to prepare the starfish in any way, and consume it directly from the jar.
8. The initiate is to then sever their own tongue using the same brass knife that they previously used upon the starfish. They are to make no effort to cauterize or treat the wound, no matter how much blood is lost. So long as they have successfully followed the previous steps, they will survive.
9. After six lunar months have elapsed, the initiate’s new tongue will have grown into position. The texture of their second tongue will not be the same as the first, though it will be familiar, and may remind them of a certain echinoderm.
At this point, all the flavors of the cosmos are theirs to know. No longer a mere initiate, they are free to fulfill any recipe within the book that they desire.