Friff leaves are best eaten fresh. That poses difficulties, since the friff maxillae only develop at high altitudes. Terminology can be confusing here – maxillae are actually modified pairs of branches that are loosely attached to the thick mainstem and crash together in high winds. The sound is said to resemble teeth chattering.
What you’ll most often find on the market is ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves. Don’t be taken in! These are simply leaves gathered from the canyon floor after the morning cyclone. They are not truly ‘fresh’. During the long fall from the clag spires, the leaves undergo atmospheric compression, and much of the subtlest juice is squeezed out. Next time you see these ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves for sale, check to see if they’re moist. If they are, a good half of the juice is likely gone. The long fall to the canyon floor also drains the leaves of most of the volatile compounds that give good leaves their distinctive smell. Ask the vendor to let you smell the leaves. If he does, they’re not fresh, and your vendor is a mountebank. No reputable vendor would risk their product that way.
Once you’ve secured fresh friff leaves (see management for a list of reliable vendors), suitably stored in individual pressure-containment vessels, lock your doors. Clear your evening calendar. Send your loved ones off to a spa. Friff eating is a uniquely solitary experience. More to the point, you’ll be out of commission for at least several hours, and you won’t want to be disturbed.
Occasional friff eaters can rent a consumption chamber (see management for recommendations). A serious friff eatery will provide a clean, private room, a sterile eating suit, and a new pair of silicon tongs. These are recommended to avoid injury. For those who can afford it, or who expect to eat friff on a regular basis, we strongly recommend the B&TR Infuser – the XB2 is the latest.
The key to friff eating is simple – get the leaf from its containment chamber and into your mouth as quickly and completely as possible. Truly fresh friff juices are absolutely toxic until neutralized by saliva. Only 7% of trained friff eaters die every year, though dental injuries are common – thus the silicon tongs. The Infuser, of course, simplifies the problem by sucking up the leaf through a macerating fan, and shooting it directly into your mouth through a wide tube. Once you’ve used the Infuser, you won’t go back to tongs – though it may take a full day to return to consciousness.
Those who’ve eaten fresh friff (and we have) say there’s nothing to compare with the taste of pure joy dancing along your taste buds and down your nerves to the gala in your spine. It’s simply the best flavor there is. Plus, it cures acne.
If you can’t afford fresh leaves, we’d say don’t bother. But we try to cater to the common humanoid as well as sophisticates, so our editor insists we add this: if you must eat ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves, try them with garlic and a little zoof powder. The garlic will cover the slightly rancid taste, and the zoof will disorient you enough that you may think you’re eating the real thing. Good luck, and please don’t tell us about it.
from the kitchen of B. Morris Allen