I had never intended to produce this post; the first effort that I made along these lines received all of one comment ... which at the time was sad for me, as it took a lot of hunting around and work and I wound up writing it over a period of four or five days.
But then I added the tool from blogger on the weekend that installed links for popular posts - and I found that it was actually one of the five most popular posts I've written. Go figure. I don't know how this fits into Cyclopeatron's assertion that blog readers don't want creative content ... can you call something which is just plain scholarship creative? The combat simulation is much more creative (and equally time consuming), and though it doesn't generate many comments there are 20 plus people who at least vote. On the other hand, metal and mineral descriptions are different from what most of the bloggers blog about. So there's that.
This post (and I shudder as I start it) includes those foodstuff products which have arisen from the encyclopedia from which I get my industrial product references for my trade tables (which I haven't mentioned in months). It does not proport to include all foodstuffs, or varieties of foodstuffs, for that would be insane. But I wager there will be some mentioned of which the gentle reader will not have heard. I certainly hadn't heard of some before starting this process. The point is that everything common will be included, and uncommon things only as they happened to be mentioned by said source.
Food is any substance that is consumed to provide nutritional support for the body, which may be ingested and assimilated by the organism's cells. I stretch the point in bits, including items which derive from animals and plants, but which would not necessarily be considered edible. Through the post, I'll color code sections so as to make things clearer. When the color is blue, we've returned to the main alphabetical list. Grouped items will appear as a different color under a black heading.
Brewing. The production of beer through steeping various plant material, commonly cereals, the result of which is then fermented with yeast. I don't know how deeply I have to get into this. Beer has been brewed for thousands upon thousands of years, and is sometimes said to predate cooking in the technological history of man. You can, if you wish, make beer from virtually anything, because virtually anything edible contains sugars which provide the fermentation that gives beer its purpose for being. Most worlds insist on beer made from either grains or honey (mead), but it can be made from most vegetables and starchy plants, including tubers. Just 'cause its interesting, the Sumerians had a god of brewing, Ninkasi, which for reasons unknown didn't get into the Deities & Demigods supplement.
Cider. A fermented beverage made from apple juice - in effect, beer made from apples. While cider can be made from most any apple, its generally made now of apples specifically cultured to produce specific flavours. A medieval apple - prior to widespread cutting and recutting to produce varieties - would have been more likely to grow wild, though of course many areas of Europe had orchards prior to the fall of Rome. It must be remembered that Rome was subtropical, however, and not ripe with apples ... in large areas of northern Europe, cider would have been brewed long before apple orchards would have been common. No doubt, the brew was less namby-pamby than modern cider ... and heavier on the alcohol content too. It would not be the medieval equivalent of ordering 'milk.'
I include seven varieties of 'unusual delicacies,' some of which might not seem correctly widespread in an Earth-based world due to their western hemispherean origin ... to which I have one answer: druids.
Chocolate. We're all familiar with the old saw about chocolate originally not being sweet and being drunk as a coffee alternative in a Mayan world that did not have coffee. The people of the Andes and Mexican highlands probably still drink the bitter brew of the Mayans, but for me that seems boring and dull. And there are druids. So I accept chocolate's existence in the form we know it today, because that's fun and because it makes a really different treasure type. There's really no limitation on the portion size, either ... dungeon made of chocolate, anyone?
Candy. The Arabs had candy before the west did, and would have been most likely what we would call 'rock candy' ... hard sucking lumps that could be carried on long journeys in a very hot and dry climate with little trouble. The explosion of variety we're familiar with post-dates my world, so with the exception of the other confectionary listed here, I don't offer for sale anything in this category but hard candy. I suppose if a player made an argument for some other reasonable type, I'd be willing to give ground ... but no one has.
|Edible Bird's Nests|
Glazed Fruit. "The continual process of drenching the fruit in syrup ..." Mmm, sounds good. This is distinctly a European thing, and not easily found in North America. Once the fruit is sugared, allowed to dry and solidify, then powdered, it can be kept in a saddle bag for many months, ready for handing out to various orc children on the journey. Longer, if the mage has the right cantrips.
Peppermint. Not to be confused with the naturally occurring plant, the candy's origin is non-specific. The link says 1670, but that's only the confirmed date. For myself, I can't think of any two things more at odds than a D&D paladin and a sack full of candy canes ... but then I like mixed up images like that. Eh, treasure's treasure.
Treacle. Sort of a medieval equivalent to molasses, not as dark and not as thick, but syrupy and meant for eating with bread. A barrel of this stuff would go for a fair price and be a real pain to roll around, since the center of gravity doesn't shift as fast as it does with water ... the barrel would have a tendency to wobble, you understand, and even 'get away.' For reasons surpassing all understanding, treacle became known as a medical cure all ... so obviously it ought to be important to magical research, too.
Copra. Note that we've returned to the main list, and left confectionary behind. Copra is the dried meat, or kernal, of the coconut. While it can be eaten, and even stored, it's typically dried and cleaned as the first stage in producing coconut oil, in which state it is used extensively (to be discussed later). Copra can be used as an animal feed, and apparently - according to this - is highly combustable. A mage with a dry cantrip and some black powder could have a field day. Give me two druids with the ability to change into swallows and I'll destroy your field artillery in short order.
Cream. Straightforward and something we're all familiar with, a very common substance that doesn't seem to occur all that often on equipment lists. Why would it? It is not adventure friendly. You can't wipe out a band of roving goblins and then take their cream to market. Goblin ranchers, sure, but not goblin rovers.
Milk. More boring than cream. But if I can make a comment on those bloggers who are busily calculating the number of calories that can be obtained from 30 acres of medieval yield wheat, the addition of milk or cream to the diet of your average cotter or villein deserves its due. A single cup of whole milk contains 146 calories and 8 grams of protein ... and therefore a village cow goes a long way to increasing the health of everyone in the community.
Camembert. With strawberries, please. Wikipedia says it was invented in either the 18th or 19th century in Normandy, but with cheeses I just can't believe there wasn't a peasant equivalent around for centuries beforehand. Perhaps that is just wishful thinking. One way or another, I repeat, my world has druids.
Cheddar. The association between this cheese and that called 'cheddar' in North America makes the fantasy of D&D look staggeringly scientific. It originates from a town of the same name in west England. I would wager that most persons in the world's western hemisphere have never actually tasted cheddar cheese ... I did once, years ago, but I can't seem to find it where I am. I repeatedly stumble across groups swearing up and down that they make cheddar, and then it turns out that, well, they don't. Trust me, you bastards reading this in England have my envy. Note that the picture on the link isn't orange.
Edam. Named after the Dutch city, a total failure as cannon ammunition and still, marvelous with wine and pears.
Ewe's Milk Cheese. The encyclopedia isn't specific, except that the reference I have comes from Aveyron, France. If any gentle reader would like to identify which ewe's milk cheese Aveyron is famous for, I wouldn't mind hearing about it.
Gorgonzola. An Italian cheese for which I have a medieval origin (AD 879, according to Wikipedia), in the town of the same name. I have places of production including Nuara (modern Novara) and Lecco, both in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy. This is definitely leaning into my cheese favorites.
Gouda. An excellent cheese from Holland, the city of the same name, and for my money superior to Edam (when you can get it from a Dutch maker). I like that "pungent, underlying bitterness." The hardness would make it a most excellent choice for dungeoneering.
Parmagiano. Excessively common now, parmagiano is heavy on maintenance, takes a long time to produce and includes issues such as what fodder cattle are raised on. It's an excellent cheese for long-distance travel, as it is hard and remains edible for literally years. . Ah, the best for last. Stilton is a blue cheese, traditionally invented in the 18th century, and must be eaten to be believed. Though I understand some do not like it. Baffling.
Pont-l'Évêque. Another French cheese originating in Normandy, said to date from the 12th century, and similar in texture to brie and the above-mentioned camembert. I haven't actually tasted this, but it is very popular. An alternate name for the cheese is 'angelot.'
Red Leicester. This, I admit, I haven't tasted. If anyone wants to send me a sample, I'm certainly ready for it. Please, not aged less than six months. Might as well be effete about it. Leicester is a large city in central east England, for those who don't know.
I want to make the brief point that while there are ongoing issues with Stilton and other cheeses regarding the dangers they present in not being pasturized, none of the cheeses mentioned here would have been pasturized during the middle ages. Perhaps a cantrip could make them safe, but certainly some people would feel that unmagicked cheese tasted better, and would be aware they were hazarding their lives in eating cheese. But what D&D player would tolerate their 9th level fighter kicking it after a few bites of Stilton? Unimaginable.
This is a long and grueling task, and I will continue. Aside from a few random items, the larger categories yet to come include distilling, baking, meat, oils and wine. About 75 more foodstuff types.