Food for Fantasy Fiction

I used to be a chef so have a background in working with food. When making food for fantasy worlds, consider your realms biology. If there are no pigs, people cannot eat them.

Alien creatures will be a product of your own mind. You can also choose to make animals and plants poisonous or inedible. Governments and religions can ban food types.

There are different ways to source food. Each depends on the technology available to your people. Some have thorny ethical connotations with consequences.

·         Foraging - You can create vegetarian or vegan societies who pick fresh fruit.
·         Hunting - Some cultures hunt wild animals for meat, fur or even bones.
·         Domestication - Domestication will depend on what biological plants and creatures exist in your realm, plus the human capability to master them.
·         Science - We live in an age of food growing in laboratories. Science is one of the greatest human endeavours, but that makes me feel sick.
·         Magic - If your culture includes magic, food sourcing is redundant, if magicians can conjure food.

One to five meals a day is common in cultures. Meals are normally associated with traditional times, food type and size. Eat the last meal of the day twelve hours before the first. This aids your sleep cycle.

·         Breakfast - Morning - Literally means to break the fast after sleeping.
·         (Midmorning) - Many cultures incorporate midmorning meals into their diet. Terms across the globe include second breakfasts and elevenses.
·         Lunch Noonish - My favourite meal, and always a welcome break from many hellish mornings.
·         (Afternoon) - Like the midmorning mean, many countries eat small meals before dinner.
·         Evening - Dinner - Also known as tea and supper, it is a hearty meal normally shared by friends and family, bringing together collective ideas and good-times.
·         (Night) - Midnight - In the moonlight of the witching hour, people crave midnight snacks of Cheddar. That’s Monterrey Jack-O’-Lantern for American readers. This is undeniable proof that the moon is made of cheese.

Formal Dining - Courses
Formal dining can include any number of courses. There is no standard but five, eight, ten, twelve, sixteen and twenty-one are common. Think of your favourite twenty-one ingredients.

If you are choosy, fussy or finicky, like I am with adjectives, then consider sixteen or less, and focus on those ingredients. Courses can be drinks, or only include one ingredient.

You don’t have to follow our earthly standards. You can create your own. They can become a basis for cultural norms.

Having different cultural dining rules is a great way to add conflict. Outsiders can choose to offend hosts, or naive newcomers may fall foul to foreign formalities.  

It’s your fantasy. You may as well make it tasty.

Food preservation is important. It’s difficult without modern innovations such as canning and refrigeration. Ways to preserve food without freezing are packing with salt, spice, or using ice.

Because of the dangers of drinking dirty water, it can often be beneficial drinking alcoholic beverages like beer or wine. Citizens of cities of greater population actually show signs of becoming more alcohol tolerant.

Your citizens need different types of cutlery and utensils to accomplish even the simple task of eating. They need plates for placing, blades or knives for cutting, skewers or forks for prodding and spoons, bowls and beakers for liquids.

Utensils and cutlery may be from many materials. This will depend on what is available. Your citizens may know things similar to wood, rubber, stone, ceramic, metallic, glass or plastic.

Your cultures can chose to cook in many ways. Cooking always involves an element of heat; otherwise, people can eat food raw.

Top chefs use many techniques for cooking, but most people only ever use the basics. This chart covers a few in a simplified way. I include the ‘X/?’ sign as I like the idea of cultures cooking by pummelling hot fat or water down on food from above.


Happy Creations!

More Information: DietCulture, ReligionMagic

Jim M