Some time back, Orcen mercenaries were used to against the people of the city (and accompanying country). The Orcen are a semi-nomadic people, who would be considered barely civilized by most. In a coup, the Leader of the time, hired many of said Orcen mercenaries away from the enemy army. Using the Orcen, they defeated the enemy and eventually drove them out of the region… recapturing their own lands and some additional lands the enemy had conquered.
Between campaigns they were quartered in small districts in various cities. The city people and the Orcen basically kept to themselves. Tensions occasionally built up. There was about to be a civil war over the keeping of Orcen forces.
Then the Orcens in one city had a party. It was more than a mere party, it was more like a festival. The festival was like one they had every year in their homelands, so they had an abbreviated version here. The main stay, besides the drinking of fermented blood and yogurt like products, was meat. Huge mountains of it, cooked on large metal shields over stoked fires. The meat is cooked with flavored oils and some vegetables, in a style unknown to the civilized lands. At first the Orcen kept to themselves, but a few poor and crippled city dwellers cautiously asked if they could have some. Orcen honor could not let them turn away someone without showing them hospitality. Eventually others of the city joined in, some brought what little food they could share. Some one brought vast quantities of beer and things became more friendly. The Evil Orcens became people in the eyes of the city folk, and the Idiots of the lowlands became wimpy people in the of eyes of the Orcen. The tensions were resolved for the most part.
The Army leader dispatched fast riders to various other cities, telling the leaders to tell their Orcen to have fun (and to discreetly ensure that people might goto the festival). Thus, another civil war was narrowly averted by simply throwing a party.
As the campaigns to drive the Enemy away wound down, more and more Orcens were released from contract. Most waundered back to their ancestral lands. A few found urban, civilized living to their liking. They opted to stay, just in case the government might need to hire them again.
Most took local wives and settled down, learning city crafts or working for the Guard. Most could do metal and leather work anyways. Some even made traditional shields and cooking shields. They would have neighborhood festivals to help keep the peace as time moved on.
So the Shield District is an old Orcen Mercenary Quarter. It is called the Shield District because Orcen always carried their shields. In terms of buildings, it looks the same as the rest of the town, perhaps a bit more run down. The signs are both in Orcen and the Local tongue. The only differences are the Pits.
Pits are open areas where local Orcen have created “restaurants” where meat is properly cooked and fermented yogurt can be had. Pits are usually one cubit (2 feet) deep areas of good size. Most have steps down into the pit, while a very traditional one requires you to jump or slide. While there might be a closed shed for storing food stuffs, they are mostly open air. Some Pits are accomidating the civilized folk and have roofs on poles covering over the seating (for shade or some protection) and even some of the cooking areas. Each pit is centered around the large cooking shields. The seating consists of low wood benches and even lower tables. Sharing tables, drinking with strangers, and singing badly all add to the experience.
The Pits were once frequently only by Orcen and those of Orcenblood, but since they are so economical (good value for cost), many of the locals travel to the district to eat in them. A few Orcen still have festivals for their building or street, but mostly there is one big city sponsored festival every year.
As time has passed, the cities along the old border now have a strong regional cuisine based upon Orcen Shield Cooking.
Note: Orcen can be a distinctive ethnic group, or could be a species division.