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.

world building: sources of food

This is where the food comes from– it’s a big topic, so I’ll be touching on what meals would be like next.

Wild Fish
As opposed to domesticated fish. 🙂 Fish outside of mariculture (as well as other types of seafood– eel, crab, clams, shark, spoon worms, squid, ect.) are caught in the outlying lake, and is the farthest out that Vastii reaches away from the Pit; getting there from the center takes hours of walking. Still, as it is a source of food, many of the commoners live and work there, trying their luck and hoping for something large and expensive. The lake is over-fished, but it is also extraordinarily deep, and a majority of the water is not accessible by the air. Some experts believe that the lake accessible to them is less than a tenth of its true size.

There are various types of fish farms, but all of them must keep their water at a certain temperature, which is the most difficult part of the trade. Clams, eels, and certain fish are the easiest to farm, and for those that can afford to buy them they make up a significant portion of their diet. They also farm seaweed and other marine plants.

Creatures large enough to provide decent meals require feeding, and the best tasting animals are herbivores, so livestock are expensive and the selection is limited. Farmed animals also provide fur and leather, and most good clothes come from these farms as well. Animals kept include goats (well, furry goat-like creatures prized for their milk), dogs (a principal source of labor, transportation, fur, and food), moles, and cave-hares (these are blind, with plenty of very long whiskers).

Vine Farms
With so much fish and meat in most people’s diets, vine farms are usually used for other things besides food: various types of wood, pitch, oil, medicines. Still, there are several plants also used as food; hardy root vegetables thrive in mixtures of volcanic soil, mixed in with goat and hare manurer, and some of the climbing vines produce waxy red fruits that drop down and would otherwise be eaten by hares (who would spread the seeds after exiting their digestive system). Plants are not regarded as a meal, however, and other than a flat bread is made from the easy-to-grow root vegetables, it is not consumed nearly so much as is fish except by those who work cultivating plants (who tend to be healthier than most).

Ice worms are small, white creatures that are found on the surface between the earth and snow. They are particularly difficult to gather in any quantity, and eating them with a meal is a display of wealth and social status: they are regarded as a delicacy, despite their bitter flavor.

It should also be noted that almost everyone below the craftsman’s district will practice cannibalism at least once. Some communities within Vastii eat their own dead to commemorate them, to obtain their wisdom and experience. Some are just hungry, and see a frozen body as meat. And then there are a few that develop a taste for human flesh, who know that hunting men is easier than stealing livestock.