Athasian Food (for thought)

Athasian Diet

I know there’s been lists of ingredients and foodstuffs listed here before. This is more a general concept of what would be different in a world where cooking in a lot of water would be a luxury. A little more serious in tone than the plethora of fruit used in the Shattered Lands and Wake of the Ravager too. I would challenge some of the additions to the world, as the original boxed set specifically states that the type of potion is NOT dependent on the fruit variety. It was ease as far as a PC game is concerned. You really want to eat a whole pineapple to gain the benefits of a Strength spell? Try doing that without a knife, cutting surface and a round or two to actually eat the damned thing. Right before killing that tribe of gith. But I digress. Here are the meat of my thoughts.

With a general lack of water and/or abundant fuel sources, conservation of both would generally lead to adaptations in cooking styles. While there may be traditions that go back to previous ages, many would be seen as extravagant in the eye of most Athasians. However, with bright sun (daytime heat hitting above 115-120 *F), a large supply of natural salt and a quantity of natural geothermic features, one can imagine how they’d be utilized.

  1. Drying of meat (or fruits and vegetables). At it’s most basic, thin strips, salted and left out to dry in the sun. This can be accelerated by reflection of sunlight, or using a black, perhaps obsidian surface.

  2. Black stone to cook eggs and protein. Much like when you see videos of an egg getting cooked on black asphalt in the summer. There’s no reason why this wouldn’t be the primary, fuel-less cook style.

  3. Mass cooking styles. When fuel is being consumed, using clay ovens, cook pits or the like to retain heat. Primary quick items would be cooked first, and other dishes would develop for the lower cooking times. For instance, small roasts/rendering and then eggs covered in the ash to save for the following day or later in the evening.

  4. When water is used to cook, the water itself will need to be reused or drunk. Meaning low salt cooking at least at the start of the process. If starchy items are being cooked, rice, noodles, bulgur, etc… the broth could be fermented. Perhaps even being brought to a centralized area in a city-state or village to turn into rice wine, broy, beer, kombuchas, vinegars or the like. Distillation would be unheard of as the process would require crazy amounts of heat and specialized equipment. Also, long soaking times would be used on any dried starches prior to cooking. This shortens cooking times - but isn’t used as often in modern non-fantasy life as it affects the consistency of the final product/dish. Dried noodles would also be soaked and re-hydrated before slight cooking/heating.

  5. Fermentation. While the outside temps reach too hot for slow ferments, quick ferments like kim chis and sauerkraut-like vegetables would be accelerated by a few days to even weeks. This would probably be one of the most common non starch preparations. Where it gets too hot for basic ferments, burying sealed vessels under sand or earth would be more common.

  6. Starches would most likely be cooked and dried - think rice cakes or puffed grains. Or johnny cake/hoe cake/pancake style items would be common.

  7. Oil would be a primary cooking element if fuel isn’t scarce, as it could be reused. However, rendering uses a decent amount of fuel itself. Sources of pure fat would be highly marketable.

  8. Salt in curing would be light, as we all know how excessive salt intake dehydrates. It would still be needed to keep everyone from getting sick all the time. I imagine dried sausages would be a very common item, much like modern day salumis. This could be elevated into a true art form. However, due to a lack of water to rinse casings… most sausages would be made from the upper intestines and not the lower. For some shitty reason.

  9. Agave, honeys and kank nectar being used as sweeteners.

  10. Insects would be eaten without most modern day disgust. Roasted or dried scorpions, grasshoppers, locusts. certain ants, ant eggs, etc… would be a common snack or dish component.

  11. Cactus treated like nopales. Could even be grilled, pickled, fermented, or just as a standard cooking vegetable.

In the doc I give my players, I add the list from the old site, I’ve seen it posted here… but the comments are closed. I think I did add a few things. I might update this later after comparing the two.


This is brilliant! You mention in the introduction, but then don’t have on your list, geothermic cooking – I’ve seen that done in a couple of places - leaving food in volcanic vents or bubbling hot springs until they are cooked.
What about cooking foods in acid e.g. like ceviche?
Or what about breaking down food by having it pass through the digestive system of some other animal first?


Those are all viable. Cooking in acid is risky though. It doesn’t generally kill parasites. Nothing like contracting a 6 foot long psionic tapeworm… and a lot of my initial thoughts are on commonality. Geothermal is rare enough among canon settlements and while there’s citrus in Athas… who has an abundance? Maybe Balic or in the Sorcerer King’s and Queen’s gardens or a particularly verdant Giant’s island.

The civet digestive tract idea is fun. I’m thinking silk wyrms or megapedes could produce delicacies.


Re #4: I would guess this brown water left over from cooking would go into a well that had a resident Id Fiend. Probably faeces too. The well would be designed in such a way to separate the good water from the polluted.

Edit: diagram.

Not to be that guy, but i imagine you mean a Cistern Fiend. Unless you wanted the water to come out insane, rather than purified. :wink:


Hmmm. An adventure idea? “The Case of the Curious Cistern Fiend”.


Hrm, Psionic Tapeworm. begins scribbling notes for the next campaign.