Friday, November 27, 2020

Yeah, but what do they eat? - A Local Cuisine Generator



     All of us Americans have just stuffed our faces with a bunch of chow, so this is the perfect time for an article about it. It is no accident that numerous superstitions revolve around food. Several gods are dedicated to food alone; Dionysus, Demeter, Xipe Totec, Ō-Inari. The importance of sustenance is of course undeniable, but it is worth considering how much they can affect a society. While at the basic level there is the separation between sedentary and nomadic societies, the kind of food that a culture is dependent upon determines the sort of terrain they hail from. Finding out how your communities feed themselves is important for world-building because it gives you a number of assumptions that you can use to further the depth of your setting. 


     If you ever wondered why Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas are better than 3, 4 or 76, look no further than the care taken to explain how everyone eats.


These tables aim to give you a basis to build up the cuisine of the culture, tribe or society. To use them, simply roll 4d8 and consult the relevant results.


d8

What sort of customs surround eating food?

1

Sustenance cannot be consumed openly.

2

Food must be served and eaten openly, whenever possible.

3

Guests always eat before hosts.

4

Hosts always eat before guests.

5

Portions of the food, or a seat at the table, are reserved for the spirits of ancestors or local gods.

6

Only provincial foods or recipes are tolerated, foreign foods are seen as immediately suspect.

7

The local fare is considered dreadful and anything exotic is coveted.

8

Food is prepared in a communal area and then doled out to the residents in a particular order. The order may be based on age, gender, caste or some other factor.


d8

What are their staples?

1-2

Tubers and Game

3-4

Corn and Livestock

5

Cassava and Fowl

6

Rice and Seafood

7

Hunted and Gathered.

8

Food is scarce, and so it must be shipped in from another region. Roll again on this table, ignoring this result if it comes up again. That is what the community has for the next 3d6 weeks.


d8

What are their delicacies?

1-2

A particular animal or part of one.

3-4

Some specific type of fruit.

5-6

A remarkable sort of vegetable.

7

Something dangerous or otherwise strange—Cockatrice eyes, illithid brains, roper tendrils.

8

A particular dish made of common ingredients, but difficult or otherwise onerous to prepare.


d8

What is the primary method used to prepare food?

1-2

Baking

2

Grilling

3

Frying

4

Roasting

5

Smoking

6

Boiling/Stewing

7

Salting

8

None—food here is often eaten raw


4 comments:

  1. This is great - particularly the customs around eating which I have not come across before.

    Food is close to my heart for world-building - I wrote about how food carts and dinner tables are great settings for politicking and other business to get done; particularly if the players working a more 'things need to get done, we haven't time to slack off in a tavern today' angle.

    https://seedofworlds.blogspot.com/2020/11/food-in-world-building.html

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    Replies
    1. It just makes sense to focus on; every human activity is in some way related to it, even tangentially, so why would fantasy be any different?

      Martin is often made fun of for it, but the focus that he goes into with cuisine throughout ASoIaF really sells the different cultural groups. We know implicitly where we are due to the fare being served.

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  2. This is the kind of table I live for. Thank you!

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