Chronique:Canon Fodder - Food For Thought

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Alex Wakeford

Writing Canon Fodder is not unlike gazing at a vast banqueting table filled with platters containing innumerable delicacies and courses for a great feast. And the table itself is pretty fancy too.

Over on that plate, we've got a grand helping of several main courses for the different eras and factions—human, Covenant, Forerunner (they're all equally edible!) Over there, we'd got a side-helping of armor lore (that's one you've got to eat with the fancy little spoon). For dessert, perhaps we'll be digging a copy of the latest book out of a crème brûlée… there are so many different topics and corners and flavors of the universe to choose from.

And so, for this issue, we're going to talk about the food itself. Yes indeed, we're going to talk about the lore within Halo: The Official Cookbook - available for purchase now.

All in Good Taste[modifier]

“The name's Arturo Bustamante, and I had one of those life-draining upper-middle-management jobs that no one writes, much less reads, a book about. My time managing contracts and arrangements with Yaka Frutas let me see just how far humanity has expanded in the universe and what each settlement and station and outpost does to keep their stomachs and hearts full. But I'm more than happy to leave that behind and keep my feet on soil for the rest of whatever time I have left. I don't miss any of the work, but something in me felt incomplete after my retirement.

After much contemplation, I decided that a compilation of all my favorite meals from my time cruising the stars would be a great project to keep myself busy. If you're planetbound, like I am now, consider this an opportunity to see a sliver of what you may be missing without the perils of space travel. And trust me, you're not missing too much. Space is, after all, vast and full of danger.”

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Even in some of our earliest forms of literature, food has been a core element of the societies and cultures we've read (and continue to read) about. Look all the way back to Homer's Odyssey where you will find lavish attention given to the banquets and feasts that represent the wealth of kings, while also embodying temptation to the haggard, hungry, homeward-bound Odysseus and his men in their struggle for survival.

You see, the Halo cookbook is not simply a series of delicious recipes that you can have a go at cooking yourself. Rather, it is a story. Avid readers of the last decade's storytelling will no doubt be familiar with various framing devices given to many of our narratives—from the mysterious “Bornstellar Relation” that recounts the story of Halo: Cryptum, found within the Trevelyan shield world, to the Halo Encyclopedia which released earlier this year, with an accumulated score of information being deposited into the Absolute Record.

For the Halo cookbook, that framing device is Arturo Bustamante—a retiree who has journeyed across the human sphere of our galaxy, and even visited some familiar places that you've no doubt passed a thousand times during your own playthroughs of many of the games.

So, let's go on our own odyssey and see where some of the foods of the Halo universe come from.

UNSC Pillar of Autumn Cafe

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“There's an awful, hollow feeling being stuck on a freighter for a month or assigned to coordinate with some United Nations Space Command capital ships without being on natural soil for the whole assignment. It's sterile and terrible. One of the few things that makes it bearable is food. It's thanks to the real heroes of the space fleets—the line cooks, the chefs, and even the vending machine maintenance crew that keep something tasty waiting for us, reminding us of our roots and our home.”

Our first exposure to the culinary delights of the Halo universe was in Halo: Combat Evolved. This was two-fold: firstly, in the cafeteria aboard the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, where Covenant borders were evidently wondering what the chef's special was after having nothing but irukan for three stinkin' days!

Secondly, we might also point to the collective human and Covenant experience of discovering that they were the culinary delight on the menu for that ancient deadly parasite they unwittingly unleashed on Alpha Halo…

Havadi Goodwan

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“I, like many people, sometimes find myself bereft of inspiration. Looking at my computer screen too long, staring at a blank page with nothing but a vertical line blinking back mockingly at me—that's when I find that a little change of scenery goes a long way to getting the creative juices flowing. So I head on over to the closest Havadi Goodwan. You know the feeling when, as you walk into a neighborhood joint, the layout, the smell, even the people feel familiar? Going to a coffee shop lets me grab a nice drink and maybe a pastry or two and ground myself.”

Next, we head over to the beloved multiplayer map Terminal in Halo 2. Assuming you're not rushing to catch the train, or in the middle of a frantic gunfight, you may have time to take in the sights and sounds of this New Mombasa-based rail station. It is here that several posters for Havadi Goodwan can be found, which is Arturo Bustamante's choice of coffee shop!

With famous custard pies, chocolate chip scones, a unique twist on coffee, and a smile as they bid farewell to you with a warm and well-practiced “Have a good one,” surely even the Covenant itself would declare an immediate cessation of hostilities if it were to come to an establishment such as this.

Vending Machines

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“This is going to sound a bit weird, but I'm going to try to explain myself anyway. Just don't say I didn't warn you.”

After a soul-crushingly long workday filled with the usual banalities of office life, Bustamante recalls finding himself in a lifeless business district—all the food stalls and restaurants closed. Faced with going hungry for the night, desperate times called for desperate measures…

Turning to a vending machine, Bustamante found his deliverance in the form of soda he had never found to be so delicious and nonperishable moa wings he had never tasted so fresh. Upon waking the following morning, the deliciousness of what he had tasted still on his mind, he attempted to retrace his steps from the previous night… only to find that the vending machine was nowhere to be found.

A well-crafted vending machine-based ghost story naturally beats reality, which was that he did in fact find it but found that nothing it offered took his fancy, but he would go on to attempt to recreate what he had eaten with more of a gourmet touch to do his memory justice.



“You know, I intended to make this cookbook a celebration of all the great things we've done as a people with our cuisine. But the more I look back at all my favorite places that met unfortunate ends, the more I'm starting to feel like an archivist—like I'm trying to gather all the good things we did as a people in the kitchen and put them all in one place before the knowledge is gone.”

Based in the Longshore district along the coast of Old Mombasa, strategically situated to claim the bounty of the ocean directly, Bustamante claims that Fronk's did fish better than any other—still dreaming of their formed-fish nuggets.

Sadly, the ur-Fronk's location is no more, and the loss prompted Bustamante to reflect on how some of his favorite destination spots have become casualties of humanity's constant struggle since venturing into the interstellar ocean.

World Cuisine

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“One of the biggest players in the food scene on Reach was World Cuisine. A culinary wonderland, it found a way to marry two of humanity's greatest strengths: a rich, diverse offering of food from all corners of the globe abruptly smashed into fast-food portions and served for a busy person on the go.”

Arturo was greatly impressed by his visits to Reach before its devastating fall, and laments that he was only ever there for business (though, one might be inclined to wonder what business was being conducted at the Errera nightclub in New Alexandria, which he admits to frequenting). Despite its heavy military presence, Arturo believed that Reach was humanity's best attempt at a “home away from home” beyond Earth.

Rising from Reach's ashes amongst ghosts and glass, World Cuisine managed to overcome the catastrophe of the Covenant's invasion and it's highly likely that you'll spot this fast-food chain no matter what corner of settled space you venture.

Full Moon

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“Of all the work I care to remember, one of my stranger assignments was to set up supply contracts for a gigantic supercarrier that I didn't even know the name of when I started. It had some very important mission that was going to take it away from the Sol system for a redacted amount of time, doing redacted activities, with a redacted crew size to support. Military contracts really were the worst arrangements to be assigned to. I was told I was on the contract because of my experience, but it felt an awful lot like punishment to me.”

The UNSC Infinity isn't just a warship, but a home to normally over seventeen-thousand of humanity's best and brightest (not to mention a couple dozen Swords of Sanghelios representatives as well). From Requiem to Zeta Halo, its crew has been tested by some of the most dangerous trials as the power balance of the galaxy has shifted on its axis, and there's no sense facing impossible odds on an empty stomach (or without a little liquid courage).

Bustamante wisely refuses to confide the things he saw and heard while aboard the UNSC's prized flagship, the confidential stories whispered and tall tales told, but he does recall his visit to the ship's Full Moon bar which hosted a complement of great drinks—a selection of which he has provided us with in his cookbook.

Have S'Moa

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“Ah yes, the moa. A beautiful, if not a little awkward, flightless bird that us humans love to consume.”

The moa were once a common sight on menus across the Inner Colonies, but they had the misfortune of being sourced from Reach. When the Covenant came to host their own barbeque with the fires of orbital bombardment, much of the moa population found itself on the menu.

However, Bustamante informs us that moa were popular enough to have had smaller populations spread across other colonies, perhaps most notably at Wiljax Brantley's Have S'Moa restaurant and the petting zoo on Gannick 22 (an Inner Colony you may recall first being name-dropped in Halo: Nightfall). As a result, their populations have managed to “bounce back,” but their meat is still quite difficult to come by—something that Bustamante notes is not too great a tragedy, as the taste of moa meat is barely distinguishable from beef.

Following the discovery of the Forerunners' network of ringworlds, Have S'Moa notably ran commercials for “onion rings the size of Halos!” While this is something of a slight exaggeration, as humanity has yet to create a megastructure composed of battered onions, Bustamante has provided the recipe for all to make their own edible Halo Array.

Flamenco Street Plaza

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“When I make planetfall on Andesia, I make sure to visit the sprawling city of Promesa, a hub of business, fancy research, and elaborate shopping. You can't shop on an empty stomach, of course, and a few smart entrepreneurs found it a perfect place for delicious restaurant concepts.”

Within the central plaza of Promesa, we find Enzo's Churrascaria, Maeyamas Noodle Bar, Thai Game, and Fish Fish.

It is in places such as these, across the human sphere, that restaurants tell a story—their menu and dishes tied to the chefs and cooks behind them, bringing their roots, their upbringing, and even their hardships to the food they serve. This, Bustamante notes, is more important than ever in humanity's interstellar age.

Kuku's Café

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“This cookbook has me pulling inspiration from all sorts of eating establishments I've been to over the years, but Kuku's Café is probably the one place you've never heard of before. It's the epitome of a hole in the wall—you could walk past Kuku's while they were busy and not realize it was open for business.”

Our journey ends back home in Mombasa, where we find the modest Kuku's Café just off the West Market in a run-down bazaar. Bustamante commends the establishment owners for making sandwiches so delicious, it's criminal that they've remained little more than a camouflaged hideaway. Of course, the locals themselves are perfectly content for things to remain this way within the grander sprawl of Mombasa.

Speaking of which, let us not forget…

Jonas's Kebab Stall (of responsibility)

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“My friend, I am an eight-hundred pound man with a large cleaver who kills animals every day and chops them into pieces. Do you really want us to be enemies? Or would you rather a nice kebab?”

Life is full of trials and strife, and it is how we respond to those perils that reveal who we truly are. Few have shown such bravery and conviction as Jonas, a simple kebab stall owner.

When the Covenant invaded New Mombasa and civilians attempted to flee the city, Jonas held his ground and said that, due to his proportions, he would take up five seats on an evacuation vehicle and was not worth five people. Rather than lament his seemingly inevitable fate, he cheerfully cooked up kebabs for the evacuees and offered them to whoever would take them for free.

Bustamante recalls having met Jonas in the past, and it is here that our culinary journey concludes:

“I used to get these great beef kebabs around Old Mombasa, but ever since the Covenant glassed that part of the city, I haven't been able to get in contact with the butcher that sold them. I was missing the kebabs, so I figured I'd make 'em myself, but I miss that kind butcher too. Hope he's doing OK.”

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This was but a taste of humanity's culinary expansion across space, further details of which are explored in Halo: The Official Cookbook—and the “delights” of other species, such as the Kig-Yar stew pictured above, remain (perhaps mercifully) obscure.

Within the vast, cosmic canvas of the Halo universe, there are those whose lives are not lived on dangerous odysseys across ancient ringworlds and alien space stations, but from womb to tomb are almost entirely experienced at ground-level. And it is in these streets, cafes, restaurants, and the people living their ordinary lives, that the idea of the “humanity” we are fighting for becomes somewhat less abstract.

So, take up your arsenal of cooking utensils and allow Arturo Bustamante to forge you into a master chef with Halo: The Official Cookbook!

Unto the Breach[modifier]

With the August Update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, we brought five new Spartan armor sets to Halo 2: Anniversary. While four of these sets are considered non-canonical (but don't let that stop you from channeling the power of the almighty trunkbeast!), one most certainly is.

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The end of the Covenant War changed the game for the UNSC, as they had not simply survived the war but seemingly “won” it. However, by no means did this represent an end to the conflict with its belligerents. Some Covenant holdouts renewed their zeal and continued attacking human colonies, and the discovery of Halo led to deeper, darker existential threats being unleashed.

The SPARTAN-IV program would deliver a new fighting force of super-soldiers and a swath of Mjolnir GEN2 armor as the fruits of its contracted, corporate partners' labor in the production of many new armor models. But before these factors became a reality and see mainline service, the Mjolnir Mark VI's technology platform continued to see experimentation with further modularity.

What would fittingly be named “Breach” served as the first steps of those iterative developments, providing Spartans with enhanced sensors, specialized armor, and extensive amounts of additional ammunition capacity. Field tests conducted by Spartan Team Omega proved immensely successful, seeing many of these additions folded into GEN2 and GEN3 development.

Breach Link

When HIGHCOM needs eyes-on a critical incident, they call the Spartans.

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Breach Scout

Eliminating Covenant holdouts and Flood hives requires a keen sensors and specialized up-armor.

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The highest grade of Titanium-A plate to meet threats head-on.

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More armor, additional illumination, and plenty of extra ammo.

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Emergency supplies and a very, very sharp knife. Useful in a wide range of situations.

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Some blows can only be turned, not avoided.

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Halo World Championship 2022[modifier]

From October 21-23, the Halo World Championship will commence—and Canon Fodder is going to be there!

We'll be hosting a lore-focused discussion, featuring myself, Jeff Easterling, and Jeremy Patenaude, along with a community guest for a fun chat about the Halo universe.

If you're heading to the event, we look forward to seeing you! If you're enjoying the event from home, stay tuned for more details on how you can watch it online.

Join us in Seattle for Halo WC!

Community Lore Corner[modifier]

Let us take a look at some of the cool projects that folks in the Halo community have been working on concerning the fiction of the universe.

Y'know, I was going to provide a bit of a recap for our previous issue earlier, but WildWildWes has done that for me with a brilliant reading of what we covered in High-Value Histories, which detailed some of the backstory around a number of “high-value targets” encountered throughout the Halo series.

Wes's presentational style evokes much the same kind of atmosphere as sitting down for a good listen-through of the Mass Effect Codex, and so I daresay it's perhaps the ideal way to experience the lore we covered in Issue #132!

While we experience Halo: Combat Evolved from the Master Chief's perspective, his specific thoughts and feelings beyond those evoked from the player are explored in more thorough detail in the Halo: The Flood novelization.

ThunderBuddy has taken it upon himself to combine both, presenting the game experience of the mission 343 Guilty Spark while also narrating the relevant sections of The Flood alongside it. The result is a fantastic mix of two unique, yet complementary narrative experiences which you should definitely give a watch!

Time was your ally, human, but now it has abandoned you. Halo Guy has returned.

In his latest lore video, Halo Guy explores a pivotal moment from Kelly Gay's Halo: Point of Light that deals with the Librarian's final message to Rion Forge, and the esoteric notion of “balance” in Living Time.

Covenant Canon delivers a new “History of” video focused on… wait for it… the Covenant!

The first of several parts to come, this video details the foundational years of the faction from the War of Wills, where the San'Shyuum Stoics and Reformists fought over the Anodyne Spirit—the Forerunner keyship that would go on to become the centerpiece of High Charity. You'll find the second part on his channel as well!

Even while on holiday, Lore Tours was not able to escape the all-encompassing reach of Halo, as he found himself playing the Halo: Fireteam Raven arcade game. As a result of the experience, he's put together a short lore summary of the game experience and its four main characters.

Community Q&A[modifier]

Duronokal: Does the Atriox's Chosen title apply only to Jiralhanae? Or can it also apply to Sangheili and even other species in the Banished?

The current members who hold the title of “Atriox's Chosen” seem to be primarily from the Jiralhanae ranks, but it is currently unknown whether that is a widely exclusive appointment.

EternalCanadian: With the variety of Assault Rifles we now know about (MA5B, C, K, 37/40, etc) what might compel a Spartan or ODST to pick an MA40 over an MA5D if given the opportunity? What pros and cons might one have over the other?

Spartans and other special forces will use any weapon at-hand to complete their objective. The granular tactical differences between different assault and combat rifles are negligible, though operators will prioritize weapons with smart-link and VISR-compatible fire control systems in all but the most extreme circumstances.

Drof497: What types of warships did the Banished bring to Zeta Halo? Are they all Dreadnoughts (as seen in Halo Infinite), or are there other warships such as the Karve and a number of Drekkars?

While dreadnoughts were of course the main capital ships seen throughout the campaign of Halo Infinite on the local island fragment of Zeta Halo, it is highly likely that other vessel types in the Banished fleet were part of their contingent to the ring.

AccomplishedSquare18: Is the Best Buy exclusive “Chosen” emblem the official insignia of the Hand of Atriox, or is it simply the standard shield we see on Jega, Tovarus, and Hyperius?

The “Chosen” emblem you reference does indeed showcase the insignia of the Hand of Atriox, which can be seen on the armor of Jega ‘Rdomnai, Hyperius, and Tovarus. It is, however, unknown whether this insignia is wholly representative of this group, or is representative of a specific cohort of Spartan Killers.

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Grizzlei: The Air Force and Army of the UNSC for the longest time were depicted in lore as a surface-based, planetary defense force like we saw in Halo: Reach. From Spartan Ops onwards the two services have lifted off to become component forces of space-based expeditions, now regularly embarked aboard UNSC Infinity. What changed?

As in contemporary military operations, there are specially trained contingents of Army and Air Force personnel who are embedded into expeditionary units. There are also political reasons to ensure that there is "all branch" representation in important operations, even if it is largely ceremonial or staffing related.

It should be noted that while the primary mission and scope of the UNSC Army and Air Force is "downwell" (that is, within the gravity well of planetary bodies), the UNSC as a whole is an interstellar fighting force, and the exigencies of the Covenant War showed that units could expect to be used in roles well outside their on-paper mission statement.

Dab1001: Step aside, Endless. Move back, Precursors. Return to your cave, Noble Six. Have a kebab, Jonas. The greatest ongoing mystery of the Halo universe is clearly the Halo: Spartan Assault Machine Pistols. What are they? Who manufactures them? When were they introduced? Why are they used? Do they actually exist, or are they simply a figment of Roland's imagination, made manifest in the TACSIM training environment? Fans have been pondering these questions and more ever since the iconic weapon first appeared in December 2013, included in the game's Xbox port. Though the weapon did not achieve its deserved success as a mainstay of the franchise, it certainly did find a place in all of our hearts. So please, could you find it in your heart to furnish us with some information about it?

Alright, let us conclude this once and for all…

Augmented with fledgling knowledge of the esoteric Precursor science-magics of neural physics, the machine p--

Had you going there for a second, didn't I?

M6/Z Magnum
Manufacturer: Misriah Armory
A fully automatic pistol modified for high-risk, close quarters ship-boarding procedures, which saw some utility against the Flood during the UNSC's brief exposure to the parasite. Its inaccuracy is offset by its high rate of fire and did not see widespread use.

Nilluminator: What is the status of the Pale Blade and the Servants of the Abiding Truth?

The last known location of Dural ‘Mdama, the so-called “Pale Blade,” and the Servants of the Abiding Truth forces loyal to him is within Onyx, which transitioned back into slipspace along with the three planets of the Zeta Doradus system that the vast shield world encompassed. Mackintosh, the outer-most planet in orbit within the shield world, became the Servants' fallback point.

The full story around this is explored in Halo: Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck.

CG1991: What's the Chief's favorite food in his rare downtime?

I hear he's still pretty fond of stealing Osman's crackers…

Spartan_Will: On the main loading screen for Season 2, who is the third Spartan with Dinh and Eklund?

The third Spartan seen on the Lone Wolves key art is intended to be representative of the player's Spartan alongside Dinh and Eklund, but it is worth noting that their appearance is not necessarily prescriptive for a specific “canonical” configuration.

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ChiralCrystal: Did the Precursors have enemies prior to the Forerunners turning on them?

Through recovered sources offering various accounts from countless millennia ago, much has been speculated about the nature of the Precursors' relations with other species.

One particular case recovered from the investigations made by the UNSC Rubicon returned a notable exchange between Chakas and the Lifeworker known as Genemender-Folder-of-Fortune who was stationed on Zeta Halo:

“What are Precursors?”

“Creators of all life in our galaxy. The originals. They made Forerunners. They made humans. They made thousands of other species—and erased them when they felt the need. Long ago, when it became apparent that the Precursors were about to erase Forerunners, there was a war, and Forerunners erased them.”

Halo: Primordium (2012), p. 194

The veracity of Genemender's claim, beyond the actions taken against their makers, remains unknown, as Genemender was notably several million years removed from the time of the Precursors' primacy.

And so, today's feast comes to an end—it's time to retire for the night with full bellies and, hopefully, fuller minds (especially if you were after that machine pistol lore).

Oh, before we go, I'll award a point to anybody who knows where the “Zanzibar and Grill” billboard is in Halo 2: Anniversary. Find it, snap a screenshot, send it my way, and you might earn yourself a shoutout in the next issue so we can all appreciate the pun.

See you at Halo WC!