Food is a central part of a culture. All to often this experience that appeals to so many of the senses is overlooked in a game setting. Description is the most important part of setting the gamer table.
The sense of smell should be first addressed, be it the whiff of pan-seared garlic or the yeasty smell of hot bread. The first impression of food is through the nose. Nest, the eyes see the food, noting colors, shapes and textures. Stir fry is exciting due to the red, yellows and greens of the peppers and veggies, the shapes are long and angular. Now compare to a bowl of pottage, lumpy, brown, rather coarse in texture.
Taste is the hardest to describe in words, and this would be the biggest challenge. Myself I am no Iron Chef and do good to cook without setting my kitchen on fire. Avoid using comparisons as much as possible, I would suggest hints and flavor tips. Rather than say it tastes like marinara sauce, mention the red sauce has a chunky texture and the players can taste a hint of pepper, onion, and a sweetness underlying it all.
onto the Scrollage!
The Courge is a staple crop of Falhath. The plant is a low lying perenial that produces a large round squash that ranges from a tan to a deep orange color. The fruit has a rather sweet nutty flavor and the seeds are roasted over a fire as a snackable treat. The thick rind is the main food of the plant, being chopped into cubes and added to stews much like potatoes would be. The Courge serves in similar potatoe roles, being chopped into hash, fried in fat, and even being mashed and distilled into a stout sweet liquor.
Courge is a main ingredient with onions and peppers in Falhathian stir-fry, a popular form of street cooking. Once the veggies and sometimes mixture of goat meat or poultry is cooked, it is stuffed into a wooden bowl and eaten with chopsticks.
Black Vinegar is unique to the famous Dwarven chefs of Degroz-Dag. It is made under the supervision of specialized dwarves who's soul purpose is the vinegar's quality control and keeping the process a secret. Black vinegar is made when the darkest dwarven meads go sour. Large amounts of sugar and other secret ingredients are added and the final product is akin to the long-aged syrupy, viscous balsamics of our world. Made properly, it requires at least ten years of aging in treated oaken barrels, away from any light sources or heat.
Black Vinegar, or Ooxsus as the dwarves call it, is then bottled and exported, as well as used by the dwarves themselves as a flavor addition to their meaty and hearty recipes. It is never used in the cooking process due to its extremely concentrated and piquant flavor, but as a final accent in the form of several gooey drops right before the meal is served. With its sharp, pungent smell and deep, smokey, muti-layered flavor, it is a favorite at all Dwarven marriage feasts.
The humans have taken to making imitation Ooxsus, but this comes out more sour and less thick than the dwarven original. This pleases the enterprising dwarves, since it just allows them to charge even more for their Ooxsus.
The Ruhig Pepper
Easily recognized by its waxy white color, the ruhig is a pepper found only growing near the border of the Great Woses. The pepper is known for its fiery flavor that is reminiscent of peanuts and that eating the pepper raw can cause temporary paralysis of the vocal chords, rendering the eater mute for a short time. If cooked this property is lost.
Ruhigs have become a sort of weapon in certain circles, with actors and actresses loosing their voices before a critical performance, or with magi who loose the ability to use magic if they cannot speak. Mages know the ruhig plant as Magebane.
A popular food, nix as it is called for short is a large seeded grain not unlike corn, though with a much harder casing. This seed is generally treated in a bath of lime juice, or lye mixture to soften it before washing and cooking. The kernels are plump and a pale beige color after boiling and are added to local soups such as lozolo.
Nix is also ground into a rough but rather filling pottage that is served as a breakfast item, often with a piece or two of goat sausage. More innovative cooks have added peppers, sweet spices, and other oddities to the pottage to liven up an old country dish.
Lastly, nixtamal kernals can be fried in hot oil to produce hard crunchy kernals that are a popular snacking treat. After being fried and while they are still hot the kernals are liberally sprinkled with spices, or other flavorings.
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? Responses (4)-4
This is oh-so-true. Every country has a main food which is their Staple diet, and first source of nutrition. It's nearly always a carbohydrate, too. Irish have their potatoes; Asia their rice; North Africa have CousCous, Americans and Australians have their fast foods :D
And as a chef I notice that even foreigners visiting Australia still tend to order their staple food, and even a foreign family living in Australia for several generations will eat that same type of meal - it's all learned throughout generations.
So in a fantasy world it would be no difficult task for someone learned in this to realise that the person sitting in the corner of the pub eating a Courge Stew may just be from Falhath. And from that, you would be able to understand that that person would have morals and traditions similar to your average Falhathian. If you were insightful, you could learn a lot simply by what a person prefers to eat.
Cudos, Scrasamax. A topic close to my heart :) It's natural I should rate it highly
Great scroll idea for foodies everywhere like me, and of course Shadoweagle, Master Aussie Chef. :D
A good way to give depth to a campaign. Thanks.
An important subject indeed. This could have been shown more love.