By Quentin H. / May 13th, 2022
The 20th anniversary of FINAL Fantasy XI Online is coming up on May 16, 2022. If you’ve been following the FINAL FANTASY XI Online news, you will know that SQUARE ENIX has been running a series called WE ARE VANA’DIEL where they have been talking about the development and history of the MMORPG. For this week’s ‘about me’ section, I decided that I would talk about how this game is one of the most consequential pieces of media in my life as it shaped me as a person.
I started FINAL FANTASY XI Online two days after I graduated high school on my PlayStation 2. Even though I had never played an official-server MMORPG before, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I made new friends quickly, and the game started to take over my life that summer as I was playing FINAL FANTASY XI Online when I wasn’t working. I quickly grew attached to the Federation of Windurst as my starting city, White Mage as my main job, and I dreamed about someday finding my way to Jeuno and this place called ‘Sky’ (which was just a nickname for the Tu’Lia endgame of the only expansion at the time, The Rise of the Zilart).
When I started college, I would play that game in my dorm room whenever I wasn’t in class. The second expansion, Chains of Promathia, soon launched and I became OBSESSED. I began pushing hard for the level cap while simultaneously trying to run my way through the expansion. If you played Chains of Promathia when it first came out, then you know how unbelievably DIFFICULT it was. The starting missions, which required you to go through the brand-new Promyvions areas, all but required an 18-person alliance to clear. The fights from there were all level capped and required a bit of real skill to complete. As a result, you would often have people stuck at Mammets or stuck at Ouryu or DEFINITELY at Mission 6-4 on the airship fight.
Until Chapter 4 (The Cradles of Children Lost), I was doing almost exclusively pick-up groups and it went…’okayish’. After that point, I found that there were almost no groups shouting in Jeuno for a random White Mage or for really anyone else. This sucked, since I had never organized a raid before, and I had no desire to lead one. But I wanted to see the end of this story so badly and I got frustrated that I couldn’t get any further.
As I continued to push towards the 75 level-cap for the main game, I ultimately realized that if I wanted to achieve my goal of finding out the rest of the story for Chains of Promathia, I would have to lead. So, I built my first static. I ended up having to leave said static due to summer vacation. But, when I returned to FINAL FANTASY XI Online again after the summer ended, I built a second one out of members from two endgame linkshells (which we called ‘HNMLS’ in FINAL FANTASY XI Online), and we successfully pushed through to ‘Sea’ (the player-nickname for Al’Taieu) and the end of the expansion. I found myself confidently negotiating with different HNMLS leaders to free up my static’s members schedules during HNMLS events in order to continue pushing through the expansion’s content. The fact that I, a regular average player, did so was honestly a little crazy to think about then and even today.
It was directly after this that I joined my own endgame linkshell group that I stayed with for over a decade.
My experiences with the Chains of Promathia expansion for FINAL FANTASY XI Online is where I can trace so much of who I am as a person back to. I grew from someone who only desired to follow others and who was…not particularly social in any way whatsoever to someone who will run projects and will reach out to others for help or to make a social/work connection with now without a second thought. It was also because of this game that I met the woman that I ended up moving to California for. FINAL FANTASY XI Online is part of the reason that I have the courage to constantly cook new dishes every week for Cooking Eorzea.
We are Vana’diel. I am Vana’diel.
And I honestly never thought that a PlayStation 2 MMORPG like FINAL FANTASY XI Online would be one of those life-defining experiences for me as it turned out to be. It is because of this game that I gained confidence, determination, and courage that has served me throughout my life.
This week’s Cooking Eorzea final dish photograph for Royal Eggs, while it has the map of Eorzea beneath it, is FINAL FANTASY XI Online-themed. If you look behind the dish, you will see SQUARE ENIX CAFE coasters for all of your FINAL FANTASY XI Online storyline partners, and I was very happy that I managed to import the full set of those coasters before this week’s Cooking Eorzea dish was made.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t share one of my favorite quotes from FINAL FANTASY XI Online. It was said by Arciela, who is your partner in the 2013 Seekers of Adoulin expansion. I still quote her even today, as I honestly believe that it is true:
“Even though we are all weak, we become stronger to protect those we love.”
If you haven’t picked up FINAL FANTASY XI Online before- or even if you’re retired from the game- come back and play. I’ve returned back to Bismarck, and I feel like I am falling back perfectly in step with this game and with my old friends who still are there.
If you’ve missed an installment of Cooking Eorzea, you can check out all the prior recipes here.
Recipe of the Week
This week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe is the ninth recipe in The Official FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook, and it hails from the Coerthas region with a difficulty rating of ‘Hard’. It also incorporates the 24th cookbook recipe, Ishgardian Muffin, which I had made last week. I ended up making a fresh batch of Ishgardian Muffins for this week’s recipe, both to see how I’ve improved in making them and because last week’s batch (if there were any left) would have been stale at this point.
Here is what the final Royal Eggs dish is supposed to look like:
Featured Ingredient of the Week
Smoked salmon is this week’s featured ingredient! High in omega-3 fatty acids, smoked salmon is first cured and then smoked (as it says in the name!) to cure it. I got my smoked salmon pre-sliced and packaged, and it was surprisingly fine to eat on it’s own!
My Cooking Attempt
This week’s Cooking Eorzea dish, Royal Eggs, incorporates Week 20’s recipe for Ishgardian Muffins. Rather than show you a step-by-step walkthrough of how I re-made Ishgardian Muffins, I will just hit the highlights of making that dish again before I dive properly into my Royal Eggs attempt.
Here are the ingredients that I used to make the Ishgardian Muffins for the second time:
The next two photos show the muffin dough before it spent 17-and-a-half hours resting in the refrigerator and how the dough looked before I cooked the muffins in the stovetop pan.
And here is the final Ishgardian Muffin result. This dish was a lot easier to make the second time around, and I absolutely felt more confident while I was making it. I also think that the muffins looked better overall this time too!
Here is the full ingredient photograph for this week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe, Royal Eggs:
The first thing I did was to take the unsalted butter and place it in the microwave to melt it completely. This was necessary to do so I could later incorporate it into the hollandaise sauce.
While the unsalted butter was melting, I sliced the lemon in half before slicing one-half of that further into pieces that I then squeezed into a cup.
After I finished squeezing out the lemon slices, I ended up having to pick out the seeds from the glass.
By this point, the butter had finished melting down, and I pulled it out to cool slightly.
I took two of the eggs, cracked them on a flat surface, and then separated the yolks out from the whites.
After I finished pulling out the egg yolks, I poured an inch of water into a pot and started to heat it up so it would boil.
I added the two egg yolks, water, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper together into a metal bowl. I then whisked all of those ingredients together for a few minutes to introduce air into the wet mixture and to blend the ingredients together.
At this point, the water was in a low boil, and so I placed the metal bowl on top of the pot so it would rest on top. I then started to whisk the hollandaise sauce in the pot, lifting it up occasionally to ensure that it was not going to curdle the eggs.
After a few moments, I gradually started to add in the melted butter bit by bit. As I would pour in more melted butter, I would whisk it into the mixture. Unfortunately, the hollandaise sauce started to break as I was adding the butter in, and the sauce started to become grainy. I thought quickly and added in a half-tablespoon of cold water to the sauce and started to gradually whisk it in. This YouTube tip (I watched way too many videos of how to make hollandaise sauce that week before I actually made it) saved the hollandaise sauce by re-emulsifying it.
Once all the melted unsalted butter was added in, I whisked in the fresh lemon juice.
Once the fresh lemon juice was whisked in, I ended up with this smooth and gorgeous looking hollandaise sauce:
I then covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside.
Next, I cracked four more eggs into small black bowls. As you can tell, the last egg broke as I was cracking it, so I had to replace it with a new egg.
Taking out a separate pot, I filled it with two inches of water, set it to boil, and then added in some vinegar and salt.
I then whisked the boiling water and the two ingredients together until they were well-blended.
Once the water was finished being prepared, I carefully tipped each bowl into the water to slide the eggs in one at a time. This was my first-time poaching eggs.
Almost immediately, the water started to froth up and it threatened to overflow the pot.
I turned down the heat some, and I could see that my poached eggs were rapidly falling apart in the water. I ended up with only ONE decent poached egg, as you can see in the photograph. I pulled it out of the water after three-and-a-half minutes and set it on a paper towel to dry. The broken poached eggs got set aside to be eaten later on.
While the single functional poached egg was drying, I sliced an Ishgardian muffin in half and then toasted each half of it on a skillet that I quickly warmed up.
Once that was done, I laid out a toasted Ishgardian Muffin cut face up, added the smoked salmon on top of it, and then added the poached egg on top of that.
Finally, I poured on top the hollandaise sauce.
After added on a piece of fresh dill, I took this final dish photo!
I then immediately dove into this week’s Cooking Eorzea dish and it was AMAZING. The hollandaise sauce mixed perfectly with the egg and the smoked salmon to create a delicious and buttery taste. The most surprising part was that there was the smooth, spiced burn of the cayenne pepper that lingered in my mouth afterwards. This was an absolutely fantastic dish and it is my favorite that I have made so far for Cooking Eorzea. I ended up using more of my Ishgardian Muffins, smoked salmon, the ruined poached eggs, fresh dill, and leftover hollandaise sauce to make more (but MESSY) royal eggs that I then ate. This was honestly as good as anything I’ve had in a restaurant before!
Looking back, my biggest takeaway for this week’s Cooking Eorzea column is that I need a ring light and a stand to take photos and film from. My hands were so busy trying to save the hollandaise sauce that I didn’t have a chance to take photos of me adding in the water or how the hollandaise sauce looked while it was broken.
As for the Royal Eggs dish itself? I would make this again, and it would be perfect to serve people for breakfast. I also need to get a LOT better at poaching eggs, and the yolks kept separating completely from the whites and it was just a mess. I was thinking that my biggest issue would be the hollandaise sauce, but it turned out to be poaching eggs.
This is where I start with the ‘thank yous’ every week. I want to thank Victoria Rosenthal for writing The Ultimate FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook. I also want to thank the staff over at Insight Editions for giving me permission to use the photos from their book to show how these recipes are actually supposed to look. Furthermore, I owe Brandon Rose a special thanks for creating the logo for this series on short notice. You should check him and his works out over on Twitter.
I want to thank all of the former directors and producers for FINAL FANTASY XI Online for creating a game that I fell deeply in love with and that shaped me as a person in ways that they will never possibly know. I also want to specifically thank Yoji Fujito (current Director) and Akihiko Matsui (current Producer) for keeping FINAL FANTASY XI Online alive in 2022. There is no way that this game would still be alive today without their efforts and support.
Finally, I want to thank both Hiromichi Tanaka and Naoki Yoshida for producing FINAL FANTASY XIV Online in both iterations of the game. Cooking Eorzea wouldn’t exist without both of their efforts.
Next week’s Cooking Eorzea column will be to make Salmon Muffins! Both the smoked salmon used this week and Ishgardian Muffins will be making a return next week, so please look forward to it!
Have you made a hollandaise sauce before? How did it go? What about making poached eggs?
Let us know in the comments below!
Akihiko MatsuiCookbookCooking EorzeaFFXIFFXIVFinal FantasyFinal Fantasy XIFINAL FANTASY XI OnlineFinal Fantasy XIVFINAL FANTASY XIV OnlineHiromichi TanakaMMORPGNaoki YoshidaPCPlaystation 2PlayStation 4PlayStation 5SESquare EnixXbox 360Yoji Fujito