December 24, 2014 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Reiassan, as a continent, is grain-poor; this colors any number of things about the nation, but especially its diet.
Most of the continent is ridged with glacial valleys and mountain crests, the valleys usually so rock-heavy that “moving rocks” is synonymous with “useless activity.” The South – the land that used to be Bithrain (where the Bitrani come from) has more fertile farmland, but much of it is very swampy.
Thus, the primary starch crops are first the tazret (generally referred to in this transcribed story as a parsnip), which is a long, thin starchy root vegetable that is cold-tolerant, drought-patient, and hearty; and rice, grown in patties in the south. Some wheat is grown in small valleys that have been extensively cultivated to allow for that sort of production, but amaranth is more common as it’s a more tolerant plant.
Because of this, and the way that parsnip and rice starches behave vs. wheat starches, bread is a far less common part of Calenyen meals than it is of a modern American’s. A typical farmer’s meal for a Northern Calenyena family would involve vegetables over parsnips, with bread or cakes being a rare occurrence, generally only for holy days or holidays; a southern meal substitutes rice for the parsnips, with the vegetables changing slightly for climate. Meat would be served when available and vary with the area – fish, wild game, farmed goat and fowl.
The Edally Academy seeks to make its students feel as at home as possible in the school, although they have constraints of food transportation, availability, and production as well.
Thus a typical dinner at the Academy would be: fish over rice with greens, or fowl over parsnips with greens. A sweet rice-cake or bean-cake would be provided before dinner, and a handful of honey-candies afterwards.
The variety of meals served helps to ameliorate some of the feelings of homesickness, but occasionally will have exactly the opposite problem: for instance, having a familiar protein served in an unfamiliar way with a strange vegetable can sometimes be worse than an entirely unfamiliar meal.