World Building - Food

If you're creating a whole new world with a totally different culture, you better get creative with what everyone's going to be eating.  And give them good reasons to eat it too - whether the food item is cheap and easily available or if something isn't eaten due to religious significance.

India is forcing me to be very open to new foods.  I've spent my life being extremely picky, but exploring vast and different menus is proving to be a very rewarding experience.  Here are a few new foods in my life:

Paneer Masala (om nom nom)
Baingan Bharta

If you know what those are, congratulations! The Hindi to English section of The Rough Guide to India is my new best friend ;)

It's lunch, Jim, but not as we know it

Even the way to eat food in India is different.  Using just your right hand (your left is reserved for use in the bathroom), you use your fingers to scoop, pick, mix and eat food.  Every meal is both a taste and texture experience.

And the way food is served is also brilliant.  For instance, on the plate above, the waiters served samples from the food everyone at the table ordered.  When your plate is empty, the waiters will serve more from the plates brought out of the kitchen.

The spices and tastes are so new.  I could eat Indian-style chicken for the rest of my life! Smoky and soft, it melts in your mouth.  Other flavours set my tongue dancing.  A few spices catch the back of my throat and leave me reaching for water or raita, delicious Indian yogurt.

I'm going to miss a lot of the food on offer here!

So, when world building, use both your own culture and others to create the food and the way in which it is eaten. The little details in the consumption of food can be a great way to establish big picture facts about your world - and your characters' places in it.


  1. Oooh, SUCH a good point! Isn't it amazing how much we remember about the FOOD in our favorite books? Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, all have their own food that we associate. And it tells so much about hte culture and socioeconomic situation, too.

    Enjoy the amazing stuff you get to eat! I'm jealous.

    1. Exactly! You have, as they say, hit the nail on the head.

      I think I'm enjoying it a little too much ^^;

  2. Mmm... raita! One of the things I like about Indian food is that, as a vegetarian, there's plenty of choice since a lot of Indian food tends to be veggie-friendly.

    Food certainly is one of those "details" of world-building that at least shows you've thought things through, and at best lends credibility to your world.

    1. I'm enjoying a lot of vegetarian dishes. My favourite is paneer masala - it's cottage cheese in a spicy sauce. So, so, so tasty!

      The slightest detail of food adds a great depth to your world. And I'm a huge fan of small details.

  3. That is one area I hadn't thought about before, yet it's so obvious. Thankyou.

    I've been a fan of Indian food for a long time now, mainly because it has a great flavour.

    1. You're welcome ^_^

      I'm new to Indian food, but I LOVE it! I'm going to be exploring a lot of restaurants when I return to the UK next month!

  4. This post is making me drool! I love Indian food, but I have to admit to sticking to mattar paneer and chicken tikka masala. I should branch out more :)

    1. Branch out as much as you can! The food is soooo gooooood!

  5. Fantastic suggestions! I will probably need to do more of this in edits when I get to the parts where my MC experiences food on another world. By the way, I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! Details are on my blog :).

  6. This is so great! Thanks for sharing all your experiences overseas. :)

  7. Mmm, I love chicken tikka masala. Now I'm hungry...
    I don't read her blog regularly, but Malinda Lo did an interesting post talking about the Chinese influences on her novel HUNTRESS, in particular with food. I tried to find it the other day and couldn't though. Anyhow, like you noted, there's a lot more to consider than just what you eat, when world building.


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