What are the characters eating?
The people of Mythoversal Hellas tend to eat three meals per day: a breakfast upon waking, a midday lunch that breaks up the work day, and a more substantial dinner that’s more ideally shared among colleagues than with family members. Staples of the diet include wine, wheat, rye, and barley grains, and olives. Some crude utensils are available to the upper classes, but most people just eat with their hands and drink from cups and bowls.
by Jed Owen
WaterMythoversal Thebes is located at the source of two rivers, the Dirce and the Ismenus, which are fed by underground streams. The land abounds with springs and fountains, a good thing in a society where each day’s water must be collected from these sources and brought back to the household. This chore falls almost exclusively on the women or women servants of each household.
WineWine is an all-ages beverage suitable for any time of day. It’s stored in a concentrated form in clay vessels sealed with wax, and watered down in a mixing bowl before serving. Spices and fruit juices can be added in the mixing process, and some festivals are associated with specific recipes for preparing wine. Among royalty, mulled sweetened wine spiced with cinnamon and filtered through cloth is the pinnacle of hospitality. In the 5th Age, this beverage would come to be known as hippocras, but that term is anachronistic in Mythoversal times. The beverage requires a skilled cupbearer’s touch to prepare properly.
MilkWithin the City of Thebes, goat milk is a popular beverage. It can be heated and sweetened, made into cheese, or allowed to sour into a drinkable yogurt. Out in the countryside, where there’s more room for pastures, cow milk and sheep milk is available. With its rural associations, pasture milk is looked down on within the city as a peasant beverage, although the cheeses made from these milks is often in high demand.
JuiceFor those who can’t wait for their juice to become wine or cider, apple, pear, plum, and pomegranate juices can also be consumed fresh.
BreakfastThe purpose of breakfast is to put something in the belly that provides energy to start the day. And yet, even back as the 4th Age there are some who habitually skip this meal, others who would turn it into a buffet feast, and everyone in between.
CarbsBread and porridge are filling foods that can be sweetened with honey or fruit. Bread and porridge are made from the same grains, but porridge is boiled while bread is baked. Essentially, bread is porridge in a solid form while porridge is a hot, gloopy bread. Wheat, barley, rye, and millet are the most common grains. Regional variation means that different varieties of grain must be traded between kingdoms in order to make some kinds of bread baking possible.
EggsMorning is also a good time to gather and consume a variety of eggs from a variety of fowl.
LunchLunch foods are usually eaten on the go, as a solitary activity during the work day. Lunch foods are portable versions of breakfast or dinner foods.
Dried MeatsDried and salted meats and fish can be wrapped in clean cloth, carried around, and eaten without mess. A staple of workmen, soldiers, and travelers who may not have access to other accommodations in the field.
Home FoodsIn addition to dried meats, fruit, nuts, and bread will be more readily available to those who can consume a meal at home.
MeatAnimals must be sacrificed to a deity before the leftovers (i.e. the meat) can be consumed by mortals. In this way, every meal that contains meat is a meal shared with the gods. For common folk, outside of festivals, meat meals are rare occasions. Meats can be roasted on spits, baked in an oven, or boiled. Portable souvlaki ovens could be used by travelers, consisting of a rectangular pan to hold hot coals and slots on which spits of meat could be placed. In addition to muscle meat, organs and intestines are also consumed, and various kinds of meat may be chopped and combined. Chopped and spiced meats stuffed into animal intestines are common, but in Mythoversal times aren’t yet referred to as sausages. Chicken, duck, and goose are popular poultry among commoners. Beef, lamb, goat, sheep, and pork are commonly obtained from domesticated stocks along with hunted game including venison, rabbit, and wild boar. Meat pies are also popular, with chopped meats commonly served with only a bottom crust and open top.
FishFish is often cooked and eaten with cheese, although considered unlucky for warriors, so is avoided by soldiers.
VegetablesCabbage, leeks, barley, turnips, peas, and beans were cultivated locally.
SnacksSometimes, an extra boost of energy is needed between meals, particularly before a grueling activity.
Seeds and NutsAcorns, almonds, and walnuts are cracked for their inner meats, while kastanan nuts are scored and roasted so the outer casing can be peeled off (these would later be called chestnuts). Watermelon seeds, imported from North Africa, could be roasted as a delicacy. Although the seeds were eaten, the watermelons cultivated at this time were not yet edible.
Fresh and Dried FruitsApples, pears, tangerines, grapes, oranges, lemons, and olives grow locally. Not all apples are edible by humans unless specially cultivated. Crab apples are fodder for horses and goats. Dried figs, apricots, and raisins also made excellent snacks.
HoneycombIf you can get some without being stung too badly, honeycomb is an excellent source of energy.
InsectsInsects are an acquired taste. They’re a good source of protein for people who don’t have access to better foods, but are also eaten by those who enjoy the taste. Cicadas are most often eaten in the nymph stage with people usually preferring the males to the females, which may be full of eggs. Grasshoppers, roasted and sweetened, are also popular.
CakesMelopita is the earliest known example of cheesecake, and the celebrated recipe of The Hecatite Cheesecake Festival. Honey cakes were produced using honey, nuts, and sesame seeds. A particular favorite in Creon’s oikos is a honeyed bread with olives and served with crumbled cheese and olive oil.
FruitsPomegranates and apples along with dried fruits like fig, apricots, and raisins, accompanied cakes or were offered on their own. Olives are everywhere, with imports from Athens being preferred to local varieties.
PuddingsNot chocolate or vanilla, and certainly not butterscotch, but various puddings are available in Mythoversal Hellas.
LiverFattened duck or goose liver, made by force-feeding birds for some number of months, is a delicacy inspired by an Aegyptian practice. In the 5th Age, this would come to be known as foie gras.
Common SpicesCumin, anise, fresh and dried thyme, fresh and dried coriander, roasted onion, poppy-heads, capers, and pomegranate seeds are used to flavor a variety of foods.
Rare SpicesSalt is a commodity of value, like gold. Cinnamon is a rare import trotted out on special occasions.
SweetenersCane sugar is unknown to Mythoversal Hellas, but there are other ways for people to indulge a sweet-tooth.
HoneyHoney is either gathered from wild hives or cultivated by beekeepers.
Grape must juiceA “must” is a pressed juice that includes not only liquid, but also seeds and skins.
NectarHoney flavored with flower petals is the basis of a food called nectar, which is analagous to the ambrosia said to be eaten by the gods.
Dried FruitDried figs, apricots, and raisins can be added to sweeten recipies.
On This Page:
Join World Anvil to subscribe to updates.
Consumable, Food / Drink