Inspired by a recent chat on Variant J’s Final Fantasy Friday stream, today we’re talking about food and culture. If I recall, the question asked by J was, why is food so memorable? This set me off on a tangent about deep ties between food and how deeply it is rooted in culture. When someone gives you food they made, they are giving of themselves- time, energy and love for you to nourish your body and spirit. It is a unique gift of the heart that can transport you to anywhere!
No matter where I am in the world, when I smell spicy meatballs I’m immediately transported to when I was just 5 years old and barefoot, standing in my nonna’s flagstone kitchen. It was always warm all around, and I would stand on a stool to help reach the counter as she painstakingly made over five hundred meatballs. I helped her count them out into bags and pour in sauce as we made meatballs for everyone in the family. If I smell roast beef, I’m transported to when I was nine years old, in my pajamas as my grandma made a meal for the family, as I peeled what felt like a million potatoes. Those are my real life memories rooted in food.
How does this affect your TTRPG or home-brewed world? When we build our fantasy worlds, we typically start with some kind of structure like a map. Maybe we come up with an idea of who will live in the world and build out from there. There is nothing wrong with this structure and it works really well for many game settings! But when you think about bringing a world to life, I challenge you to think about what makes life living in the world worthwhile. What brings culture to your world and its people?
The looks of shear joy the hobbits share when they discover pints of ale are sold at the Inn of the Prancing Pony is palpable. For our Critical Role fans, who doesn’t want to taste a Black Moss Cupcake from the Bakery in Uthodurn? Perhaps you’d prefer to settle down with a steaming hot bowl of Pumpkin soup from the Lumpy Pumpkin in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword?
In Kait’s setting, our characters have been all over the main continent and experienced so many examples of cultural development in world building! One thing that stands out to me personally, is a food stall we visited in the desert that had many kinds of stew. One of them was flavorful, spicy, and cold in the characters’ mouths! I imagine it is like the feeling you get when you eat dippin’ dots but spicy like curry!
Related: Cultured Creatives: Performance Art
What food memories do you PCs have? Please leave us a comment and let us know!