Food

One of the most important parts of any culture is its food, which is as important to the survival of a cultural as it is to the survival of its members. The cultures of Faerûn are no exception, and have developed in a manner similar to or apart from their real-world counterparts, resulting in a fun mix of real-world eating traditions and exotic or fantastic cuisine.

The baseline diet of the Forgotten Realms is based on that of medieval Europe, particularly England, but probably just through American and Canadian ethnocentrism. The social impact of "foreign" foods (by English reckoning), such as those from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Middle East represent the same diversity they did in medieval Europe. Likewise, the absence of "exotic" Japanese, Chinese, and Indian cuisine serves the same purpose as medieval Europe.

The typical meal of a farmer in the heartlands consists of bread, cheese, and beer, but which bread, cheese, and beer varies greatly by region.

Meats

Humans domesticated all of their favorite foods centuries ago. Today, cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep are a common sight in towns and cities across Faerûn.

  • Schnitzel - Schnitzel is a general term for any cutlet of meat; the most famous is Moonsea Schnitzel, which is a fried pork cutlet.
  • Stroganoff - Originally from Rashemen, this dish is popular across Faerûn but its ingredients vary greatly by region. The most common is made from sauteed beef, sour cream, onion powder, and pasta. Many variations include mushrooms, and some use diced potatoes instead of pasta.
  • Wings - Deep fried chicken wings are a common site in taverns across Faerûn. They are usually coated in a sauce made from butter and a variety of peppers.

Sausages

Sausage is made from ground animal flesh stuffed inside a casing made from its entrails. They are often spiced, and are usually smoked for preservation and flavor. Almost every human culture in Faerûn has sausage, but they are most popular in the Silver Marches, Cormyr, and the Sword Coast.

  • Sembian spiced sausage - A spicy pork sausage from Sembia made with garlic and fennel.
  • Smoked rothé sausage - Smoked sausage made from the rothé, a Faerûnian buffalo.

Fish and Seafood

Fish is the most common meat wherever land is scarce and water is plentiful.

  • Sushi - A Kozakuran dish, typically made from raw fish, rice, and seaweed. Hundreds of varieties exist, but only a handful are known in eastern Faerûn, and sushi is altogether unknown in the west.

Grains

Bread

Bread is a baked dough made from flour and water, and is the most common and most varied food in all of Faerûn, and probably Abeir-Toril. The soft inside of a bread is called the crumb, while the hard outside is called the crust.

  • Babka - A twisted loaf of sweet dough flavored with chocolate or cinnamon and topped with streusel. You can never go wrong with a babka. Chocolate babka is the best; the cinnamon babka is a lesser babka.
  • Baguette - A long, thin loaf that is popular throughout the heartlands of Faerûn.
  • Blackbread - Made from the sweetest, strongest molasses in Amn.
  • Brioche - A buttery bread with a crisp crust that is popular throughout the heartlands of Faerûn.
  • Croissant - A flaky, crescent-shaped roll that is popular throughout the heartlands of Faerûn.
  • Elven bread - Light and sweet, one small bite can fill a man's stomach for days.
  • Fruitcake - Flavored with rum or brandy from the Pirate Isles and studded with dried fruit and nuts.
  • Gingerbread - A cake-like bread made with ginger from Shou Lung.
  • Hard-Tack - A dry, bland biscuit made of unseasoned flour and water. This is eaten mainly by poorly-supplied soldiers and sailors, or adventurers who have fallen on hard times.
  • Onion loaves - These foot-long, grub-shaped bread loaves are liberally spiced with groundroot, leeks, and onion. They're best eaten with drippings, while hot.
  • Pretzel - A lightly-salted, twisted loaf of dough baked until it develops a brown crust. "Soft" pretzels are served warm with a side of piping-hot beer cheese or stone ground mustard. "Hard" pretzels keep well and are typically eaten as a tavern food or by travelers.
  • Sourdough - Made with a bit of dough from the previous batch, left to "go sour" to leaven the next. It has a heavy consistency and a hard, flaky crust.
  • Tortilla - A flatbread from Maztica made from corn. Though Maztica disappeared in the Spellplague, the secret to making tortillas remains.

Pasta

Pasta is a Sembian food made from unleavened dough that is cooked in boiling water. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the most common outside of Sembia is commonly called the noodle, a Chondathan word with Illuskan or Damaran roots.

  • Bean curd noodles – Chewy, semi-transparent noodles from Shou Lung made from tofu.
  • Egg noodle - A thick, savory noodle made with eggs. When shaped, these are often called Spätzle.
  • Filled pasta - Similar to the more common dumpling but smaller, filled pasta is made with cheese, or less commonly meat, or rarely potato. Ravioli and tortellini are examples of filled pasta.
  • Ramen – Curly, thin noodles found all across Kara-Tur.
  • Soba - Fine, thin, vermicelli-like buckwheat noodles from Wa.
  • Udon - Fat, white, and long noodles from Kozakura.

Pastries

Cookies - Also known as biscuits or biscotti, these are thin slices of sweet dough baked until they are crisp. They are often topped or filled with other delicious things, such as chocolate chips or sweet frosting. Because they travel well and take very little effort or ingredients, cookies are a staple of adventurer's rations and children's lunches throughout the heartlands.
Éclair - A long pastry filled with a coffee- or chocolate-flavored crème pâtissière, custard or whipped cream, and topped with fondant icing. Other (less common) fillings include pistachio- and rum-flavoured custard, fruit-flavored fillings, or chestnut purée.

Vegetables

Vegetables are unfit for transporting, but some sort of vegetable can be grown pretty much anywhere. Because of this, there is a lot of vegetable variation by region. Elves and eladrin are known for their consumption of leafy vegetable, and dwarves almost exclusively eat root vegetables. Every other race falls somewhere in between.

  • Parsnips - Parsnips are a mystery. They look like a carrot, and are cooked like a potato. No one has ever eaten one knowingly.

Soup

  • Borsch or Borscht - A cold beetroot soup originally made by the orcs of the Hordelands, it was handed down to the berserkers of Rashemen and is commonly served with a dollop of extra-fatty sour cream and a boiled potato.

Salad

A salad is a simple dish that is typically unfit to be served as a meal, instead served as an appetizer or digestive aid. Not all salads are made from vegetables, but rare is the salad that isn't. The most common type of salad is made from leaf lettuce, and is popular with humans and elves. Orcs, who are omnivores in name only, call the salad tree ejaculate.

  • Caprese salad - An appetizer salad made from slices of mozzarella and tomato, basil leaves, and olive oil.
  • Sauerkraut - This pickled cabbage salad is a mainstay for shield dwarves and übermenschen throughout the North. It is typically served hot, and flavored with animal fats or dark beer, and eaten more often as a condiment than a solitary dish.

Sauces

Usually made from ground vegetables, sauces are used to enhance the flavor of meats or cheeses.

  • Dwarven mustard - A lightly-spiced, sweet stone ground mustard used to compliment smoked sausages. In some regions of Cormyr, it's widely believe to be a cure-all, aphrodisiac, and occasionally a personal lubricant.
  • Hummus - A Calishite dish made from mashed chickpeas. Other herbs and spices are often added to enhance its natural flavor.
  • Mustard - The king of sauces. Made from the seeds of the mustard plant and vinegar, this yellow or brown sauce has a pungent aroma and a sharp flavor and a varying level of sweetness and hotness.

Fruits

Because many fruits are enjoyed without any sort of preparation, they are a convenient food to find in the wilderness, though their short shelf life makes them difficult to transport without drying, which is detrimental to their nutritional value and flavor.

  • Apples - Apple orchards are common throughout Cormyr, as one of the few fruits that can withstand the warm summers and cold winters of the Forest Kingdom. Most other fruits are imported through Sembia, from wherever they're grown.

Desserts

Because of their natural sweetness, prepared fruits typically serve as desserts rather than meals.

  • Apple crisp - Also known as apple crumble, this apple and brown sugar dish is served in nearly every household and tavern throughout the heartlands.
  • Strudel - Another dish made from apples and brown sugar, but baked into a flaky crust.
  • Sorbet - A frozen dessert made with sweetened water and fruit.

Dairy

Cheese

Cheese is a common table food made from milk fat. Many cultures produce cheese, varying wildly in flavor and consistency. Cheese is valued because it is more portable and preservable than milk.

  • Arabellan Cheddar - The most popular cheddar cheese of the Sea of Fallen Stars. It is a sturdy, orange cheese that travels very well.
  • Chessentan Lotus Cheese - Popular in Chessenta and in the empires on the southeastern side of the Sea of Fallen Stars. It is mixed with lotus flower petals, although there are other Chessentan cheeses that are mixed with rose or honeysuckle petals.
  • Damarite Red - Also known as Bloodcheese, it comes from the lands of the Bloodstone. Made from goat's milk, it has a sharp, hearty, pungent tang. It travels well, owing to its heavy, black rind.
  • Elturian Grey - Reminiscent of Blue Cheese, but has black veins. It is also known as stonework or dwarfcheese. It has a pungent flavor. Unfortunately, many knock-offs of Elturian Grey have come into being, sometimes using cow's milk instead of goat's milk. They try to sell them under similar names, such as Elturel Grey, Elturel Gray, etcetera, to trick the unwary.
  • Farmer's Cheese - Also known as pot cheese or cottage cheese. It does not travel well, so is mostly consumed locally. It is usually wrapped in muslin.
  • Green Calishite - Made by the Calishites, who mix curry into their cheeses to enhance the flavor. It has an aquamarine hue due to the curry. It is an extremely spicy cheese that can lay low the uninitiated.
  • Mist Cheese - Produced in Loudwater Vale, it is a rich, soft white cheese that becomes translucent when sliced thinly. It is also called Ethereal Cheese by the elves.
  • Nut Cheeses - Prevalent in Silverymoon, Mirabar, Sundabar, and the other cities of the savage frontier. They are a way to preserve un-shelled nuts (such as hickory nuts, walnuts, and chestnuts), which is done by grinding the nuts up and mixing them with cheese during the production of the cheese. Nut cheeses are typically rich and hard.
  • Pepper Cheese - A tangy, supple cheese created by mixing southern spices with a mixture of goat and cow cheese. The rind is leathery and dotted with peppercorns. Tethyr is well-known for its excellent pepper cheese.
  • Turmish Brick - A cheese mixed with the heavy red wine that is common among the Turmish. It is a sweet, crumbly, burgundy cheese, wrapped in red wax, and has a distinctive rectangular shape. It is popular as far north as Neverwinter. A 1-pound loaf costs about 4 silver pieces.
  • Vilhon Blanc - A lighter cheese than Turmish Brick, since it is made with a lighter wine. It has a sweet, delicate flavor. The cheese is typically consumed locally, and is rarely found beyond the Sea of Stars or Sembia.
  • Waterdhavian - Popular and common in Waterdeep. It is also called eyed cheese, holed cheese, or arrow-shot. This pale cheese has a sharp, tangy flavor.
  • Yak Butter - This mild and delicate cream cheese is made from yak milk. It can be found from the Spine of the World to the Hordelands.

Desserts

  • Gelato - A frozen dessert that contains less butter cream than standard ice cream because it is meant to be eaten in warmer climates, such as Sembia or Calimshan.
  • Ice cream - A frozen dessert commonly available in spring, when it's still cold enough to make but warm enough to want to eat. Unlike ubiquitous ice cream in the modern era, it is a rarity typically shared between young lovers.

Beverages

Beer

Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains and flavored with hops. They come in two main varieties: ales and lagers. Ales are made from top-fermenting yeast at room temperature and have a fuller flavor, while lagers are made from bottom-fermenting yeast at cold temperatures and have a crisper flavor.

  • Bitter Black - A heavy stout from Arabel. Served at cellar temperature, it is jet black with a dark brown head of foam.
  • Dragon's Breath - A Sembian brew of harsh temperament. It is often served with a platter of dark rye bread and strong cheese.
  • Elminster's Choice - A dark, cloudy beer from Immersea with a heavy head and a smoky aftertaste. The name is likely a marketing ploy—Elminster will drink anything short of ram's piss.
  • Golden Sands - This Calashite beer, like most southern brews, is a golden lager. It comes in several varieties: Basic, unadulterated; Gold, fortified with cacti and nettles, giving it a sharp aftertaste; Limon, piss and lemons, mixed; Orange, braced with orange and currant, it’s sweet with an acidic aftertaste.
  • Iriaeboran North Brew - Widely regarded as an acquired taste, it has a dark amber color and a bitter aftertaste called "the bite of the north winds."
  • Luiren's Best - Brewed by the halflings of Luiren, this hefty stout is as black as ink and nearly as thick as the snows of the Spine of the World. It has a sweet flavor and frothy head.
  • Old One Eye - A fire-red lager stamped with the brand of a cyclops head.
  • Shadowdark - A frothy ale from Shadowdale. It has a pale yellow foam atop a cloudy brown bubbly liquid and a light bitter taste.
  • Suzale - Officially called Purple Dragon ale, is a top-shelf nutty brown ale first brewed for King Azoun IV of Cormyr but now sold across Faerûn. Its name is a pun on Suzail, the capital of Cormyr.
  • Tanagyr's Stout - A heavy, pitch-black stout with a low, rich malt flavor. It is brewed in Zhentil Keep, but often ships in unmarked casks to avoid the stigma.

Cider

  • Kneecracker - A robust drink cloudy with heavy sediment.
  • Purple Hill cider - A strong, clarified cider made from apples and accent fruits such as cherries, plums, quinces, and gooseberries from the Purple Hills orchards of Tethyr.
  • Strongbeard cider - This is a strong dwarven cider common in the Silver Marches.
  • Vilhon Cider - A sweet cider with apples, cherries, blueberries, and pears from the Vilhon Reach, it is best served piping hot with cinnamon or cloves.

Wine

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented fruits, usually grapes. They are flavored with a variety of herbs and a good vintage will fetch a high price in any market across Faerûn.

  • Arabellan Dry - A dry red wine with woodsy undertones and a berrylike taste.
  • Berduskan Dark - A heavy, sweet wine. It is so dark that it’s nearly black and has a high alcohol content.
  • Blood Wine - A product of Aglarond, blood wine has a heavy body and deep-red tone. Its taste is lush and full with a slight after bite, made from shriveled grapes said to be possessed by the dead.
  • Clarry - A pink blend of table wines sweetened with honey and spices.
  • Evermead - The eladrin mead, against which all other drinks are compared. Made according to closely guarded traditions in Evermeet and aged for hundreds of years, rare is the bottle that touches human hands.
  • Fire Wine - A thick, almost black wine made in the Old Empires. It is very strong and spicy, and is said to have medicinal qualities.
  • Mead - Mead is a delicate, sweet wine made from honey. It is rarer and more difficult to produce than wines made from grapes or other fruits. The best common mead comes from Neverwinter bees.
  • Saerloonian Special Vat - A pale red wine made from raspberry and strawberry.
  • Saerloonian Glowfire - A pale chartreuse wine renowned for its faint luminescence, with hints of pears.
  • Saerloonian Topaz - A yellow-amber wine with dry, nutty undertones and bold fruit overtones.
  • Spiced wine - Common in Calimshan and Tethyr, spiced wine is a sovereign remedy for nausea, cough, and other common ailments. Flavors include raisin, cinnamon, fennel, anise, nutmeg, and clove.
  • Table wine - Common table wine is a staple of taverns across Faerûn.
  • Undermountain Alurlyath - A sweet white wine with a slightly nutty aftertaste. Its wonderful taste and full body are further enhanced for romantic evenings by its prominent silver and green luminescence. Few would guess this wine was brewed by the church of Lolth, and fewer still would be willing to drink it if they knew how it was made.
  • Westgate Ruby - A bold crimson wine with a slightly acidic inclination.
  • Winter Wine - A purplish-blue dessert wine made from frozen grapes in the North.
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