Worldbuilding Wednesday 6/19/24: What Do Dryads Eat? (Narnia LII)

Dryads, by Nikolai Efimovich Kuznetsov (1916)

When Lucy saw … the trees were going to eat earth it gave her rather a shudder. But when she saw the earths that were actually brought to them she felt quite different. They began with a rich brown loam that looked almost exactly like chocolate; so like chocolate, in fact, that Edmund tried a piece of it, but he did not find it at all nice. When the rich loam had taken the edge off their hunger, the trees turned to an earth of the kind you see in Somerset, which is almost pink. They said it was lighter and sweeter. At the cheese stage they had a chalky soil, and then went on to delicate confections of the finest gravels powdered with choice silver sand.

I’ve always loved this passage from Prince Caspian, even though the rest of the book is problematical for me. It’s the first time Lewis goes into the nuts and bolts of his imaginary world… what, exactly, do mythological creatures eat? In fact, later, in The Silver Chair, he tells us what a centaur’s diet is like: two stomachs, a horse one for oats, grains, and mash, and a human one for a super-sized hearty English breakfast.

Extrapolating on the four types of dryad food Lewis gives us above, I’ve creating a whole menu with help from ChatGPT. Who wants to open up a dryad diner or fast-food restaurant?


What dryads like to eat

Alpine Moiraine Crisp and refreshing with tastes of pine and fresh glacial till. Scraped from rocks at high altitude and mixed with lichen.
Black Volcanic Sand Crisp and gritty with a peppery kick. The texture is coarse and grainy. Usually eaten as a side dish.
Cave Pond Silt Light and delicate with a soda-mineral freshness.
Coastal Sand Salty, briny, crunchy mix of inorganic matter with silicates and kelp.
Cottage Garden Mulch Rich, savory mix of organic and inorganic material with umami notes. Layers of decayed leaves and woodchips give it a hearty, meaty taste akin to a well-aged stew.
Fenlands Topsoil
Comes from waterlogged areas like swamps, marshes, and tidelands. Rich and sticky with a gooey texture and high acidity.
Flourite This mineral tastes sweet and cool like mint.
Forest Floor A hearty mix of decaying leaves, fungi, and forest detritus, this soil has a soft mushy texture with a savory taste. It’s a staple of the dryad diet.
Lapis Lazuli, crushed Used by Medieval human artists to create blue pigment for manuscript illustrations, this gemstone is a delicacy for trees. It tastes sweet and tart like a mix of berries and minerals.
Mangrove Mud Mix of decayed mangrove roots and tidal silt, this soil is sticky, salty, and sweet with a hint of brackish water.
Mica Flaky and sweet, widely eaten for dessert. Its many layers make it the equivalent of puff pastry to the trees.
Obsidian Sharp and bitter with a glassy, burnt caramel-coffee note, eaten sparingly as an apterif.
Peat Dark and robust with a smoky aftertaste. The dryad equivalent of a fine aged steak.
Quartz Crystals Considered a form of a candy for young dryads. It has a crisp and clean flavor with a sparkling sweetness.
Red Clay Smooth and buttery with slight tastes of copper and iron.
Spring Compost Only available seasonally. Has a sweet, fruity flavor with a touch of citric tartness.

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