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Foods of Eredane
Eredane is a huge and diverse land, with food traditions that vary wildly. Some are based on the tastes and metabolisms of the traditional natives, while others are defined by the ingredients available.
The Kaladruns and Erethor in particular are more defined by the tastes of Dwarves and Elves respectively, whereas the Erenland and Asmadar regions are more based on location; halflings and humans and orcs in any given region of Erenland eat about the same things, despite their differing ancestry.
Of course, members of any race often come to appreciate the cooking of others (though perhaps more rarely in the case of toxic dwarven seasonings), and cooking “exotic” foods for feasts or banquets is a celebrated tradition the world over. This exchange might take the form of Norther lords enjoying “elven style” raw meat, or just Caransil youngsters challenging each other to try dwarven Pickled Ankheg.
All natives of the Great Forest share a simple but deep culinary tradition tied to their close bond with nature and keen senses of smell and taste. In general their foods have few ingredients and are simply prepared. Across elven culture there is a concept of appreciating each ingredient in itself, and they tend to see the complex sauces and baking of the other races as a muddled affair that covers up the taste of the actual food.
The lack of an agrarian culture also make grains a rarity in elven foods, which include only small amounts of wild grains. The addition of bread to the typical elven diet is relatively recent, due to increased exposure to refugees and the need to feed their armies as the forests shrink.
The use of magic has an interesting place in Elven food traditions. The use of Prestidigitation and Druidcraft to remove unwanted flavors and acquire fresh sprouts means that spoilage and foul food are virtually unknown within the forests and jungles. This has reduced the need for spices and preservation methods more common in other cultures.
Central Erethor (Caransil)
Seasoning is minimal in Caransil cooking, usually limited to oils, light pickling, preserves, and various floral and fruit extracts. It tends to give Caransil foods a light and delicate tastes, which many outsiders perceive as bland and floral by comparison to their richer and spicier native dishes (playing into the stereotypes of wood elves as frail nature lovers).
While Caransil do eat meat they do so sparingly, usually served raw or lightly seared. The consumption of meat does not bother their animal allies (many of whom are predators themselves), but most large game animals have dire relatives, making for potentially awkward mealtimes. As a result, the Caransil eat more meat from fish, as well as insects, rodents, and other “vermin” that do not have sentient relatives.
At home, wood elves eat dishes heavy with raw or charred fruits, nuts and vegetables. Most food is cooked simply over open flame or roasted in the ashes of a fire, or else made into soups that tend to be clear and light in flavor. Honey is used heavily both as a preservative and in dishes, and candied fruits and flowers are the traditional end to most meals.
On the road magically procured foodstuffs are common, with spells like Goodberry allowing a single magic user to sustain many traveling companions. Plentiful forage within the forest mean elves tend to travel light within their own lands. When heading into the Burning Lands or outside their forests, they bring dried and candied fruits and nuts, sometimes packed into clusters held together with honey. These are often magically enhanced, allowing a very small amount of food to last a very long time.
If the Wood elves are the gardeners of the Great Forest, with their groves of fruit and nut trees sown throughout, the Snow Elves are its consummate hunters. During the short summers of the north they gather tubers and nuts along with the spring greens, stored in root cellars through the winter. Otherwise, they hunt and trap for their food, eating just about every animal that lives in their cold homeland. Druidcraft sees frequent use during the long winters, bringing bright tastes of fruit, honey, and greens to an otherwise meat-heavy diet.
Unsurprisingly, hot beverages and soups are beloved in this frigid environment. Aromatic herbal infusions are a typical beverage at the end of a hard day, and fragrant teas imported from the south are treasured.
At home they prefer their meat raw or lightly seared and fresh, often dipped in oils seasoned with dried mountain herbs. Bones and those parts too tough to consume whole are made into simple soups and broths, which are used to boil root vegetables and otherwise inedible tubers. The snow elves do not shy from their predatory nature, and their meals feature parts of animals that most other cultures do not eat at all or prefer to hide in sausages and ground meats.
On the road, dried meats and freshly trapped animals make up the majority of each day’s meals.
Southern Erethor (Danisil)
The food of the Danisil stands in sharp contrast to the delicate flavors favored by their kin. They also primarily subsist on raw and simply cooked food, but their homeland is blessed with a huge variety of hot peppers, spices, and strange jungle intoxicants that can be featured in their food. They tend to see a single spice as the taste to be appreciated, and the food it is applied to as a subtle seasoning.
The more exotic plants and poison-making skills of the Danisil influence their cooking to result in truly strange dishes; it is not uncommon to eat a meal with the Danisil that leaves your mouth feeling alternately burning and numb, or which changes taste over the course of the meal.
It is believed that this divide in taste may have led to the more drastic physical shift between the Jungle elves and the rest of their race. While Sea, Wood, and Snow elves all live in different environs they all eat similarly delicate and unseasoned dishes, and to their palettes the spice-centered food of the Danisil is almost inedible. This tends to make visits between the two cultures brief, meals awkward, and co-habitation nearly impossible.
At home Danisil eat fruits and greens drizzled in peppery oils, simple cuts of meat rubbed with dried spices and seared, and roasted tubers topped with preserved peppers and hot sauces.
On the road they pack dried spiced meats and clusters of nuts and dried fruit similar to those made by the Caransil, but often laced with chili peppers or more exotic seasonings.
Erenland is an incredibly diverse culinary landscape, mixing the food traditions of various invaders, those of the Halflings that call it home, and those of the Elves in the west and Dwarves in the east. Its rich fields and agrarian history mean that grains are a staple, but the style in which they are prepared varies drastically. Across the region, however, foods tend to be complex and layered in nature. Sauces, seasoned meats, stews, and preserves mix to create rich foods from simple, bland ingredients.
The Northers have a tradition of hearty foods heavy in dairy, grain, and the meat of domestic animals such as cattle and aurochs. This tradition persists in Northern Erenland.
At home they eat stews that mix many root and cold-tolerant vegetables with grains such as barley, served with fresh crusty breads and flavored with herbs from the plains. Cheese and milk are served with most meals, along with the light honey-sweetend ale favored by the region.
On the road, dense dried breads are softened in soups made from grain and dried meats.
The southwestern region of Erenland mixes the culinary traditions of Sarcosan, Halfling and Danisil to create a hearty but firey cooking tradition. The rich sauces and preserves of the Sarcosans are spiced to the edge of edibility. Beans and rice thrive in this damp, warm plain, and find their way into many foods.
In the south, the use of chicken and beef gives way to fish and shellfish, and the food becomes less intensely spicy, instead taking on more savory and rich flavors that compliment the delicate tastes of seafood.
At home they eat meats and beans simmered in hot spicy sauces, usually served with bread or rice. Flatbreads topped or rolled with spiced meats and beans are a common staple for those working the fields, as they keep well and require little preparation.
On the road dried meats, dried peppers, and dense flat breads are the staple. Dried beans and grains are often carried, used to make quick soups using the plentiful water of the region. Many travelers from this region are surprised to learn that the everyday dried and powdered spices they bring with them to season their travel food become incredibly valuable as they move East and North.
Primarily influenced by the Sarcosans, southeast erenland is a land of rich preserves and long-simmered sauces, paired with pickled olives and fruits seasoned with hot spices.
The Dwarven food tradition is far less regional than most; after all, a cave is a cave the world over, and the seasons or local climate hold little sway over the subterranean kingdoms of the Dwarves.
The traditional dwarven diet is heavy on mushrooms and subterranean plants, as well as meat from the various denizens of the underground. The hearty dwarven constitution means that they utilize spices and seasonings that are mildly toxic to most other humanoids, though most dwarven cooks are mindful of this because small dwarven children and the elderly can suffer similarly to humans from these ingredients. For those who can stomach these ingredients, however, they provide some of the most intense flavors in Eredane. Much of the reputation dwarven cuisine has for being bland or disgusting is due to the “mild” dishes visitors are usually served, which suffer from a lack of salt and surface spices to replace the toxic dwarven staples.
Dwarven ale is the most widely-known example of this tradition: it is brewed from Paleberries (a tiny, tart white cave berry with a growth cycle of about one and a half years) and a type of large mild mushroom that can be eaten like a potato or made into bread. Each of these ingredients is mildly toxic on its own. The resulting brew is nourishing and heady to dwarves, but potentially deadly to anyone else. The widespread consumption of this beverage (and the effect it has on humans and elves) widely influenced the perception of dwarven toughness throughout the ages. Erenlander ales and beers are thought to descend from attempts to recreate this brew in a more human-palatable form, but most Dwarves find the stuff tasteless and thin.
Large insects such as Ankheg and some of their more domesticated relatives are eaten much in the way cows and chickens are eaten on the surface. The meat of these insects is similar in texture to shrimp or lobster, but less salty, and tends to be served either seared or stewed and shredded. The meats of insects and other cave dwelling creatures such as bats are collectively referred to as “cave meat” in most dwarven dialects, by contrast with “surface meat” such as beef or poultry.
The preservation and fermentation of foods is the aspect of dwarven cooking that most others find hardest to stomach. Cave meats and eggs are submerged in vinegars or alcohols and allowed to ferment for weeks or even years, bringing out and intensifying their flavors to a degree that many outsiders find nauseating.
At home, cave meat is typically cooked with mushrooms, fermented eggs, and flavorful herbs or lichens to create intensely rich soups or roasts. Mushrooms are ground and mixed with yeasts from the breweries to create a type of bland bread that effectively balances the strong meals it is served with. Red surface meat is a particularly favored delicacy, and is often shredded and spiced then added to sauces to stretch it.
On the road, dense dried mushrooms and dehydrated meat can be softened in the ever-present dripping water of the subterranean realm. Beer and ale are commonly used to supplement travel diets, and a type of vodka made from the same mushrooms used for ale brewing packs a surprisingly high amount of nutritional value.