Xian Cuisine

Cuisine in Xian tends heavily towards rice and seafood, those two foodstuffs being most common in the city. Locals tend to eat better than do most, as food production and export is the city's major industry. Even the poorer craftsmen can expect a bowl of rice porridge at the end of a day's work, and the wealthy have tables groaning under delicate viands.

Porridges and gruels are common fare among the poor, thickened by whatever vegetables and protein is at hand. Cakes of sticky rice take the place of bread in most cases, though some wheat, barley, and millet is grown in the drier hills. Drinks are rice beer, with the wealthier commoners being able to afford potent rice spirits. Food is eaten with chopsticks or spoons and knives, depending on the customs of the diner.

The wealthier citizens can afford fish as a regular matter, with the occasional addition of a chicken or chunk of pork to the fare. Grilling, stir-frying, and steaming are popular methods of food preparation. The noveau riche often make a point of serving "traditional Imperial cuisine" at their table, no matter how impractical it may be or how vague the ingredients. Of some gourmands, it's said that they'd serve soup with chopsticks if that's what the old recipe said.

The elite of the city are known for the decadent abundance of their tables, with countless dishes presented, all spiced and flavored with condiments brought from all over the Isles. Many of these meals are scarce tasted before they're sent away. Many estates of the wealthy have particular rooms set aside in the kitchen for "jewelers" to come and pay the head cook to pick through the meal leavings, fashioning meals from the leftovers that they later sell in the market. At the center of town even a respectable scholar would not turn up his nose at the remains of a princely one's meal, so splendid are the offerings, while the further the meal travels, the cheaper and less savory it becomes. At the outskirts of the rice fields, old crones sell flyblown rice cakes and leathery scraps of nameless meat for half a copper coin.

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