Worldbuilding Wednesday 1/16/19: Exotic Vegetables

Some of the many varieties of potatoes cultivated by the Inca people.

What is the difference between a fruit and vegetable, anyway? Traditionally, fruits taste sweet, and vegetables savory, that is, not sweet.  But this doesn’t account for the tomato (sweet) being in the vegetable section of the supermarket, or the melon family being divided in two, with some members (cantalope, watermelon) being fruits, and others vegetables, even if, like certain squashes, they taste sweet.

Another definition is that fruits are the mature ovaries of plants and thus contain seeds (except for varieties developed by humans to be seedless) while vegetables are the other edible parts of the plant, like its leaves, stalks, roots, and flowers.  Yet peppers and eggplant and still classed with vegetables and not fruit.

My definition is that a fruit is most commonly eaten raw, while vegetables are most commonly cooked. But, again, this doesn’t account for salad greens and apple pies!

Confusion aside, here’s some randomgenned veggies that can be used to provide nutrition in your fantasy world.

Exotic Vegetables

Chabais: A thin, elegant tuber that grows in bunches underground like the fingers on a hand, Chabais is zesty and crisp, with pale flesh speckled with scarlet. The skin is brown and ridged with “eyes.”  Chabais prefers moist areas to grow in. Its flowers are often harvested to make a healing tea.

Ylan: A  foul-smelling, leafy vegetable that softens and sweetens when cooked. It is only the leaves on the upper stalk that are eaten. YIan stores a lot of salt and has natural sugars, and so does not need seasoning in the pot. It is often pickled for later use. Also known as “Fairy Food.”

Zhath pod: This tropical tree has an edible seed pod that is delicious when poached. The pods grow in clusters of five and are shaped like flat disks. They must be picked when green. If they have turned brown, they will be too bitter to eat.

Alkaday: A fist-sized, starchy vegetable with a bright blue peel that is removed before cooking. Alkday is very filling, though bland. The peel is used as a dye. Alkaday stores and travels well, leading many farmers to grow it as a cash crop.

Izbo: A leafy stalked vegetable with dark, curling, blueish-green leaves. The stalks have a magenta tint, and are steamed and eaten separately. The taste is reminiscent of cauliflower.

Aeva: A small, contorted root used to flavor stews and soups with its unique spice. The tough gold skin must be peeled completely away to reveal the carmine interior. Aeva is often chewed when raw to sweeten one’s breath. The taste is like lemon, turmeric, and cinnamon combined.

Jajrasilla: A tuber that grows in a shape resembling a human foot, jajrasilla is salty and crunchy when eaten raw. It has smooth gold skin and an ivory interior. When cooked and mashed, it makes a fine custard.

Chphosis: A large root that is found only in swampy areas and must be dug out of the mud. Chphosis has a thick, smooth red skin and a creamy interior. It is labor-intensive to gather and thus very expensive, being eaten mainly by the wealthy.

Yubric: A soft vegetable similar in size and appearance to a cherry tomato, but dark reddish-brown in color with a fuzzy skin. It spoils very easily and must be eaten fresh.

Morvia: One of the most versatile and tastiest tubers around, with rich, buttery flesh. Morvia grows in the shape of a lopsided crescent and its skin ranges from lavender to blue. It may be baked, boiled, or fried.

Jizbol: The flower buds of this large desert succulent are gathered in the spring. They have little taste, but stain the foods they are cooked with a bright orange.

Vendha: A robust vine whose large, circular leaves may be steamed and eaten. The leaves lose their bright green color when cooked, turning black. They are full of important nutrients. Vendha is easy to grow and blooms with spectacular orange-yellow flowers in early summer.

 

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