world building: meals

Last post I wrote about where the people of Vastii got their food. This is a continuation. As this is all new material, I don’t think this will be a very complete list.

Noblemen and Royalty
Noblemen have the most varied diet, as their wealth and status provides them the best that Vastii has to offer.

A meal that a noblemen might eat for breakfast, for example, is flatbread, baked with slices of redroot and stuffed with slices of goat and cheese. Alternatively, one might receive shrimp, or eel with bread. This is served with a small garnish of fish eggs, which are traditionally placed on a square of dry seaweed. Breakfast is a light meal, and is usually accompanied by a pale tea made from various plants and a very weak alcohol, called sap wine (which tends to range from one-half to two percent alcohol).

Dinner is the largest meal of the day, and this is when the most impressive food portions are served: on special occasions, a whole shark is brought into the noble’s dining room, garnished with tart roseate berries, which are cooked in their waxy skins until they turn to jelly inside and their red skins turn mostly transparent. Oyster tends to be cooked on the half-shell, pearls are lucky, but not valuable. Squid is prepared in one of several ways, from fried to raw. This is also the meal that ice worms are served in, and these are usually fried in oil and mixed with redroot and occasionally bits of ochii (explained below). Supper is a lighter repetition of dinner, and the food that is not eaten earlier in the day are often put into stews. The fish heads and tails are used the make stock. Bread is traditionally served with the soups.

The well educated have set a trend of eating a small chopped portion of a rather vile tasting plant called ochii (Oh-shee; all ch combinations are soft in Danache), as the university in Vastii has declared that it promotes longevity (after noting that those who work in the vine farms tend to be healthier than men elsewhere in the city). It has become fashionable to eat them because of this, through the mistaken idea that ochii makes one smart.

The noblemen’s beverages also have more variety than the other classes. In addition to sap wine, they also drink goat milk, fermented goat milk (an acquired taste), fire wine (from roseate berries), and tar drop (a sweet dark beer), and starlight, a rosy herbal juice from a variety of vines. It’s also one of the only beverages that does not contain alcohol.

Food in the craftsmen’s district
Craftsmen don’t get the fancy dishes, nor the access to milk or cheese, unless they are very wealthy or buying it for a special occasion. Fish, decent sized whole fish are roasted, stewed, and baked. They have bread, oil, assorted roots, and some spice up their dishes with sauces based on some of their wines for variety. Sap wine, fire wine, and starlight are the common beverages.

Common Fare
Common men eat the same basic meal over and over, unless they have access to a fishery, the lake, or the vine farms. Frozen kippers, mashed root, goat’s feet, and small cakes of bread feed them, and they usually have the choice between sap-wine and plain water. The water is not considered healthy to drink, even in ice form, and the common men prefer the former if it can be had. Those in the vine farms eat the most plant-matter, and as the university had noticed, are physically healthier for it.

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2 thoughts on “world building: meals

  1. It’s interesting that you dive into what foods they eat. I guess for an underground city it’s rather important, but for any other setting I guess it just never truly occurred to me to be important. But it’s the little things like food that give a setting its true flavor. (hehe, okay, pardon the bad joke) I’ll have to work on food in my own world as I have previously heinously neglected it.

  2. I’ve never done this, either. šŸ™‚ Given the harshness of the setting, though, I thought that it was very important that I start with the basics. Lighting under any other setting, for instance, would have been an afterthought, but here it’s life or death. Food also establishes where its grown, and who gets it. The palace has to get shipments every day for fresh food, and it sets the pace of the commerce. I used to imagine it as a bare-ish city; now I realize that if they want to eat, it’s going to be teaming around that highway.

    I’ll be done with food for now, I think. šŸ™‚ Next are some world-building links, my showcase, and then I’ll be moving on to the city structure itself. I hope my maps can do it justice.

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