Jan 1, 2012

FoodBuzz 24: A Vegan Year of The Dragon

The Dragon and the Rainbow Goblin
by DJ Karma

Once upon a time, a baby dragon hatched from a very large speckled egg.  He was named Zephyr, after the warm west winds that whistled past his family's large cavern on the day he was born.

Zephyr grew incredibly fast, to become a gigantic and beautiful water dragon.  He had a long undulating body, punctuated by hundreds of pointy, multi-colored scales that poked out of the water when he swam.  His colorful armor reflected the rays of sunlight that shone down through the afternoon waters, as he glided effortlessly through the underwater world in which he spent most of his time.  All other water creatures skirted out of his way whenever he passed, because water dragons were considered the largest, the most powerful, and one of the few magical creatures in the world.

One day, as young Zephyr lazily sunbathed on the shore of the Great Sea, a large shadow flew over him.  He looked up to see a mighty eagle flying by overhead.  She looked down at him and screeched happily as she passed.  He waived back, and looked in awe at her broad wings that flapped rhythmically in the sky.  He looked at his own shoulders, and wondered why he didn’t have the wings to fly like the majestic eagles.

“Oh, how wonderful it would be to soar through the boundless skies!  If only I had the wings to do it,” he said dreamily.  “I would give anything to be able to fly!”  

Zephyr spent the next few days questioning his elder dragons about how he could obtain wings to fly.  All of them laughed at such an absurd ambition.  After all, water dragons were… well, water dragons!

Frustrated and determined, the young dragon decided to go on a special quest to find the secret of flight.  So Zephyr set out to ask the one being that would have the most answers in the dragon realm- The Moon, for The Moon was the controller of the sea and all things water related.  But first, he had to climb to the distant mountaintop of Mount Luna in order to get close enough to be heard.

Day and night, Zephyr trekked through forests and swam across rivers.  He climbed treacherous cliffs and steep ravines, until finally he reached the beautiful broad plateau of Mount Luna.  He peered over the edge of the mountain, and saw the spectacular view of green tree tops and dazzling blue waters, and in the faint distance, the tiny spec that was his sea cavern. 

It was still daylight, so he decided to take a nap and wait for the Moon to come out.  “Soon I will find out the secret of flight, and maybe I’ll even have wings to fly home!” he said excitedly to himself.

“So you want to fly, do you?” said a high-pitched cackling voice.  Zephyr was stunned to find a little greenish, wrinkly-faced goblin peering at him with little black eyes and big pointy ears.  Before Zephyr could answer, the little goblin changed to a pale pink. 

“You don’t need wings to fly- all you have to do is come to me.  For I have the magic that can make things happen!” he said sweetly.

Zephyr looked at the creature incredulously.  He knew goblins were very powerful, but could be greedy and conniving as well.  “I’m sorry, sir, but I have no gold to pay you.”

“Oh no, young dragon.  It is not gold I seek,” said the goblin, as he peered at Zephyr with his unblinking eyes.  “You see, I’m a rainbow goblin, and I feast on the colors of the rainbows.”  The goblin stood proudly as he turned a dazzling royal blue.

“But The Moon doesn’t like to share the rainbows, and would much rather horde all the delicious colors and distribute them at his will.  Those lowly plants and animals don’t deserve the colors as much as a powerful and magical being as myself! … and, uh… you, of course!”

Zephyr looked down at his own multi-colored armor.  “But what do the rainbow colors have to do with flying?” he asked.

The goblin danced excitedly, and explained his plan to distract The Moon and seize the next great rainbow, which was to be born after the next great rain.  In the distance, there was a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, as the skies grew dark for the impending storm.
“I will give you the power of flight, but you must fly up and divert The Moon’s attention.  When I get my rainbow, I will make your power permanent!”

So excited was Zephyr at the prospect of flying, that he agreed impetuously to help the goblin.  And so they waited for the storm, and for the small window of time, when The Moon used the rays of the morning sun to form a rainbow.

The heavy rains pounded the mountain all night and felt heavenly to the water dragon.  The rains finally subsided to a light drizzle, as the heavy clouds parted and dawn broke to shed an early morning light. 

The Moon descended through the haze, a large softly glowing sphere, and as the arms of the sun’s morning rays reached out to illuminate the sky, a brilliant rainbow arched over the land.  “Now is the time!” yelled the rainbow goblin, as he raised his arms. “Fly, dragon, fly!”

Zephyr felt his insides churn, as if his body was being filled with air.  Suddenly, he started to float upwards, like a large writhing balloon.  “I’m flying!” screamed Zephyr in astonishment. 

“Yes, yes,” screeched the goblin.  “Now remember our agreement!” 

Zephyr nodded and soared upwards towards the moon.  He felt the wind rushing through his scales and the exhilaration of pure power.  The Moon grew ever larger as Zephyr approached, and soon the flying dragon caught The Moon’s eye.

“What is this?” asked The Moon in a booming voice.  “I’ve never seen such as sight!  How does a water dragon fly without wings?”

Zephyr looked upon The Moon in awe for a moment.  “Good morning, your highness,” said the dragon timidly.  “I- I traded some gold with a goblin in exchange for the power to fly without wings,” lied the dragon.

“My, my,” said The Moon in amused admiration.  “That is an incredible ambition, but you must excuse me right now.  I am in the middle of distributing the rainbow colors so our world can be more rich and beautiful.

“But what should happen if the world does not receive the colors?” asked the dragon hastily.

“The colors are not just for outer beauty,” replied The Moon.  “They are filled with energy and love from me and The Sun, and they bring hope and prosperity to all who receive.  If the world does not receive the rainbow’s colors, everyone shall wither and suffer.”

Zephyr suddenly felt ashamed.  “Please do not let me interrupt your important work, your highness!” 

But when Zephyr returned to the mountain, it was too late.  The rainbow goblin had already stolen the rainbow and was nowhere to be found.  Zephyr looked all around frantically, but saw only a world sadly devoid of color.  He himself started to feel depressed, as he noticed his own armor fading of its once magnificent hues.

From the high mountaintop, Zephyr peered all around, desperately looking for any sign of the rainbow goblin.  The plants, sea, and all the land’s animals seemed sickened and graying.  Then, for a brief moment, Zephyr saw a flash of rainbow colors in the nearby woods, next to a large gray boulder.  Weakened and no longer able to fly, Zephyr was still determined to find the goblin and convince him to return the stolen rainbow.  So he set off down the mountain and towards the boulder that was sure to be the goblin’s secret lair.

After slipping and sliding down the large mountain, and trekking through the dreary woods, he finally reached the big gray boulder.  Exhausted, he looked all around the boulder, but all was quiet. 

“Goblin!” roared Zephyr, his anger rising.  “Come out and face me!”

But there was no response.  Inside Zephyr’s chest, grew a feeling of intense rage.  He felt his throat burning hot, and puffs of smoke streamed out of his nostrils.  Suddenly, he opened his mouth to roar and flames of red-hot fire shot out, searing the big gray boulder until it glowed red as well.  Zephyr was somewhat surprised, as he had never used his fire before.
He had never been so angry before.  “Come out now, goblin, or I’ll turn your secret lair into ashes!”

A small door flung open from inside the charred boulder.  “Now, now, young dragon,” said the goblin sweetly as he finally emerged.  “I was just securing the rainbow, and was about to return to the mountain to make good on our agreement.  No need to be so angry!” 

But Zephyr didn't trust the goblin's words, and he didn’t care about flying anymore, in fact, he had forgotten all about it.  “I don’t want to fly.  I want you to return the rainbow, so The Moon can restore the world to its former glory!”

Return the rainbow?” laughed the goblin, who flashed a bright orange.  “I will not be returning anything, and your fire is no match for my magic!”

“Please, goblin,” pleaded Zephyr.  “The world is suffering and dying… because of me.  I will do anything you ask, if you return the rainbow now!” 

The goblin wrinkled his suddenly purplish face in thought.  “You have nothing I want,” said the goblin coldly.  “I already have what I want.” 

Zephyr suddenly had an idea.  “What if I could convince The Moon to create an even bigger rainbow?  Would you return the smaller one if I could help you steal an even bigger one?”

The goblin’s ears perked up.  “How big?” 
“At least twice the size,” said Zephyr confidently.
The goblin agreed, amused at the dragon’s efforts… for the thought of having two rainbows instead of just one, did sound very attractive indeed.

“Make me fly, and I will convince The Moon!” declared Zephyr.  The goblin waved his hands and off he went, a wingless dragon soaring once again, up towards The Moon.

This time, The Moon looked much fainter against the brightened, yet colorless sky.  “Hello again, flying dragon,” greeted The Moon.
“Your Highness!” breathed Zephyr.  “I have made a terrible mistake, and because of my foolishness, your rainbow has been stolen!”  He continued to share his story with The Moon, ending with a tearful apology and the second agreement he made with the goblin, in hopes of tricking him into returning the rainbow. 

“Young dragon,” The Moon chuckled.  “I know this goblin.  He has been trying to steal my rainbows for centuries.  He has finally succeeded... and he has no intention on returning anything, or keeping any promises.  It is true that your actions have made the world suffer, but learning from one’s mistakes is one of the greatest achievements in life, and I am proud.”

Zephyr blushed.  “But what should we do about the goblin?  Do you think we can get the rainbow back from him?”

The Moon chuckled again.  “I will create another rainbow for the world, but alas, I do not believe that we will ever get the stolen rainbow back.  But you might be surprised at just how things work out, when one does not learn from their mistakes.”

With that, The Moon conjured up another storm, and another rainbow.  And, he was so impressed with Zephyr’s honesty and morality, that he gave the power of everlasting flight for all water dragons.  To Zephyr, he also gave a magic pearl that glowed with the powers of The Moon, and Zephyr became the Guardian of the Sea, the Giver of Rain, and The Protector of Rainbows.  Since then, the magic pearl and its magical responsibilities have been passed down from generation to generation of worthy young water dragons.

As for the rainbow goblin, his greed became his downfall.  Never did he have an entire rainbow all to himself.  So he feasted… and feasted… and feasted on the stolen rainbow colors.  Soon he became drunk from his overindulgence, and something unexpected happened.  All the excessive colors had mixed together inside his body and turned him a permanent dull brown.  Since his magical powers were based on the brilliance and delicate balance of the rainbow colors, he could no longer do any magic… nor any magical mischief ever again.

-The End-
This tale was inspired by the book “The Rainbow Goblins” by Ul De Rico, ancient myths about the wingless Chinese dragons, and my son Joshua, who is to be born this year- The Year of the Dragon.

Happy 2012!  
The Lunar New Year isn't until January, but unless you're Asian American, it's not widely celebrated in the U.S.  According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2012 is The Year of the Dragon- the most powerful of all the signs.  And, what better way to celebrate than to throw a "Dragon Party" to ring in the new year?

Here are some dragon-themed foods I served...
Cucumber and Carrot Dragon
Spicy Dragon Wontons
Coconut Cupcakes with Almond Dragon Scales
We had so much fun, we forgot to take pictures!  I mostly caught people eating cupcakes.