World Building: Food in the Dark

Thanks to my new dietary regimen, I’ve been using a small portion of my brain to pay attention to food and what I eat.  I’ve definitely increased the amount of vegetables, especially legumes, that I consume, and since my hobbybrain is currently set to D&D, I’ve began to wonder what the various fantasy races eat.

This started when I was making my daily breakfast omelet – and adding a pile of mushrooms.  Mushrooms famously grow in the dark, so they must be a  staple of a dwarven diet, right?  So, mushrooms and… what else grows in the dark (and don’t say “fear”)?  I know that there are some vegetables that will  grow in shade or “dappled sunlight” – like leafy lettuce or spinach, as well as beans and peas.  Beets and radishes can be grown in infrequent light, as can  two big staples of my new menu – broccoli and cauliflower.  (Never really liked broccoli until we started making it fresh – what a taste difference!)

Dwarves can live without fruit – leave that for the elves and halflings.  But meat – that’s a dwarven necessity.  Assuming the keep a garden for their produce near their mountain home, perhaps they also have herds of cattle – or more likely, goats.  Mountain goats, right?

Flipping through some Monster Manuals, I see some other possibilities for underground grub – including grubs, giant centipedes, giant beetles and all of the various “big insect” creatures that populate the D&D world.  What about the weird stuff?  Are Cave Fishers part of a dwarven “Surf & Turf” menu?  If they like mushrooms, do they love Shriekers?  Or myconids?

I don’t imagine dwarves eating anything that can talk, but maybe they keep that side of their diet hidden from the surface races.  That could explain their hatred of goblins and orcs – a bitterness caused by rival groups eating each other.  Dwarven raiding parties planning sorties into goblin caves to gather treasure… and dinner?  Would they eat Yellow Mold, which could possibly be sentient?  Would they gain psionic powers after consumption of a certain amount? Or any of the oozes?  Frozen Gelatinous Cube deserts?

I’m starting to imagine a party of adventurers exploring a dungeon, looking for traps and treasure, while their dwarven comrade begins planning to feast on the fallen. “Hey Gimli, are you sure you don’t want to pack iron rations for our mission into the hobgoblin stronghold?”

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