Food: Sustenance for Body & Soul

F is for Food...
F is for Food…

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

Food. Food is an integral part of every society, because everyone needs to eat to survive. Even in fantasy and science fiction. It doesn’t matter if they are vampires who eat only blood (it’s still eating and consuming nutrients!) or aliens who absorb what they need through their skin (it’s still eating and consuming nutrients!), everyone needs to eat. 

In some cultures, the preparation and consumption of food be very ritualistic and have significant meaning. Especially around holidays.

Food takes on an entirely new meaning when you have to raise/hunt/butcher/grow/harvest it all, too.

Depending on the type of society you’ve set up in your world-building, not getting the grains planted or a spring garden in – or livestock not breeding and birthing young successfully – could mean starvation.

Flood, fire, or extended winters and rainy seasons can all affect the growth of food as well – and cause famine.

Consider these things while incorporating food into your story:

What types of food, spices, and herbs are grown and produced locally?

  • What types of food, spices, and herbs have to be obtained from non-local sources?
  • How far do they have to travel?
  • If the goods are perishable, is there a way to get them to where they need to be before they spoil?

What would a peasant eat for breakfast, based on what’s available locally?

What would a monarch eat for breakfast?

What do the livestock eat?

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What kind of options would a character find available in their local pub/tavern/inn?

Are there any holidays that have traditional foods associated with them?

Are there any holidays with a fast associated with them? How is the fast broken?

Are there any other ceremonies or rituals that have the consumption – or abstinence – of food associated with them? What particular foods are involved?

For Dessert… (In Conclusion, rather…)

Poke through different cultures, especially ones similar to the cultures you’ve created for your world. Look at their traditional foods, and see what you can draw inspiration from.

In more extreme climates, like deserts and tundra, look at why they eat what they eat. Oftentimes, it’s for survival reasons, since those climates are more demanding on a person’s body than a more temperate environment.

Original Image used in header image by Muffet.

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18 thoughts on “Food: Sustenance for Body & Soul

    1. Fish on Friday is more of a Catholic thing than a general Christianity thing. A few of the more traditional denominations, and Greek/Eastern Orthodox might do it as well, though, since they have more similarities with Catholicism.

      But in general, I can think of at least 4-5 religions right off the top of my head who restrict their follower’s diets. And probably the only reason I can’t think of more is because I don’t know enough about different ones!

      Thanks for stopping by, Sophie!

  1. Food is important in real life and in stories. I make sure to write about my characters eating every now and then, because as I reader I find it odd when the characters in a book don’t eat a single meal throughout the entire story. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but the mention of a character grabbing a donut on the way out the door. and taking a bite of it, adds something. As a writer, I actually love to describe food. 🙂

    1. It IS funny when you read a book and not a single meal is spoken of. I always wonder if those characters subsist entirely on air!

      But really, it’s an acknowledgement of the mundane, daily activities in life that make fictional characters easy to relate with. Including eating!

  2. My Devices of War series was a bit challenging here. We don’t have livestock. So, I was left wondering what we would eat. The people who traveled by sea ate fish, sure. But what about the people who lived in the sky? They base their survival on their ability to self-sustain, so there isn’t much trade. Yeah. That was challenging as all get out.

  3. But then there was the other series — yeah, I know. I should go now and stop being a pest — where they’re not on a “world” as we would know it. They’re in a fold of reality. Dreamers are there only as souls. But what about the Dreamlanders? They’re BORN there! So how do they eat?

    Colors. They eat colors. Yes. That’s what I did. I mean, why not?! It’s Dreamland! LOL! Okay, now I’m going.

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