“WOAH,” you say.  “YOU CHANGED THE TITLE OF THE BLOG ENTRY TO THE ACTUAL CONTENTS.”

“I know, I know,” I say. “I’m trying to shake it up a little here.”

To honor the Swords of the Serpentine Thread on rpg.net, I am going to write about… food.

Annoyingly, I kept writing about food when writing Eversink.  I expended fountains of precious words on meat-onna-stick.  Why?  Was I hungry?  Well yes, but…

  1. Food defines a people, an environment, and a biodome.  People living on mountains eat a diet rich in goat, while people living on the coasts eat a diet rich in oysters.
  2. Food helps define a people.  People who farm and herd cattle are a very different people than those who primarily fish, or hunter-gatherers.  Are people sedentary with huge feudal plantations?  Do they live on lashed together boats?  Do they farm smoky terraces of rice paddies?
  3. Food defines status.  People with a higher status eat much differently than people of a lower status.  Rich people can indulge in delicacies while the poor eat, well, meat-onna-stick.
  4. Food defines a sense of place.  Food markets, food carts, farm plots, grazing plots, fishing ponds, oceans, seas… These are the sounds and sights of a city come to life.  A city with no food is just archeology.
  5. And because of A Better Tomorrow II.

If you haven’t seen A Better Tomorrow II, first, you need to go get educated in classic Gun Fu and the Heroic Bloodshed genre of movies.  Go away and watch it.  I’ll wait.

Here’s the scene I really care about:

This scene has everything.  Chow Yun Fat.  Hong Kong Restaurant Wok Cooking.  Violence. Guns. White guys getting their comeuppance.  And, most importantly, a dissertation on man’s relationship to rice.

It’s the deepest shallow thing ever.

I have this image in my head of PCs parkouring down through Eversink underbasements pursued by some nasty summoned by a Sorcerer and then bursting up through a bathroom and stumbling out, all covered in gore, into a huge, ridiculous, ritzy gala and there, in the center of the gala, is this spread of oysters.   And me, being a curious sort who is in love with travel food shows, goes “ooh? where do the oysters come from?”  Nevermind the underbasements, the nasty, the Sorcerer, or even the benefit gala for poor Tangle Orphans.  What do I care about?  “Where’s the fish market?”

This unspools in a creative weave into building a fish market, and fisheries, and the smell of the docks, and the Tangle itself because the fishermen need to live somewhere and they do not live next to ritzy galas that serve oysters.

I can unweave anything if I start with food.  If, for some reason, the restaurant in Ironcross serves, of all the strange things, steak, and Eversink is on series of islands connected by bridges, where the hell does the steak come from?  And how fresh could it possibly be in a world without refrigeration?  Is there a Sorcerer who specializes in cold enslaved to some horrific Demonic Master and forced to freeze warehouses full of meat sides until the Sorcerer implodes in a giant bloody poof of Corruption?  Or does the Corruption go in the meat?!  How does the Demon smuggle the meat to the warehouse?  Does he also run a Thieves Guild?  Holy jumping jacks, that restaurant is a front for Smuggled in Illegal Demon Meat Loaded with Sorcerous Corruption.  And what happens if you, I dunno, eat it?

Dear God, do not get the special!

Things like this are why my friends think I need help.

I’m fascinated by man’s relationship with food and how it defines their place, their cities, their governments, and their entire ways of life.  Everything about man, space, life, and man’s relationship with food.

I once read this book, a Taste of Conquest.  It’s honestly not the greatest book of all time but I found the section on Venice deeply amusing.  Not for the food!  The food is abhorrent in that book — except these, Venetian Peverini, they look pretty good.

The book inspired me for two reasons:

  1. It lays out the machinations and machinery of how, in the 16th and 17th centuries, various spices start on one side of the world and traveled to the other side of the world, often in musty holds.
  2. The early mania for printing cookbooks.

When the printing press first spread through Europe, one of its first stops was Venice.  While at first, the bookbinders cranked out Bibles, they quickly churned out a more popular seller: cookbooks. (Then after that, you know, porn.)  Bibles people bought once.  Cookbooks people bought every time a new one was released.  Oh rapturous joy, early 16th-century cookbooks.   There are few things more bizarre, confusing, and glorious than a 16th-century cookbook.  They rarely have the ingredients, let alone full recipes!  And mostly they said: “Take a rabbit and roll it in pepper and cinnamon and roast and eat and don’t die.”

It’s glory because it talks about people, and things, and people eating things.  And it is a story of a city, and how the city worked.  And how it wrapped itself around that spice trade so people could eat rabbit rolled in pepper.

Eversink is loaded with food carts because I have a passionate love for street food.  And it’s loaded with food because it’s a place of people, and culture, and where people come together to share in culture.  And also, where the meat might be, just slightly, haunted.

Stats:

  • 21,467,820 tested
  • 2,003,107 positive cases.  Yikes!  2M cases!
  • 113,349 dead.  I note we are back up to 1K dead/day.
  • 59,550 cases in MD, 2,885 dead
  • 1 in 147 people have it in Howard County