nations:taipan:culinary_culture

Tai Pan Culinary History

Tai Pan mostly eschews traditional large-scale dedicated agriculture in favor of promoting own-grown produce and micro stocks to its people, supplemented by smart vertical farms and enclosed systems built into the infrastructure. In the wake of inhabiting planets and zones that were exceedingly less hospitable to not just human life, but plant life, Tai Pan faced an immediate shortage of replenishable food stores. Artificial farms and similar systems proved ultimately incapable of reasonably keeping up with rising populations and the needs of people who no longer lived in traditionally viable environments. Faced with this coming crisis, the Wing of Harmony developed a means of feeding their population in the wake of a newer way of life among the stars.

The Wing of Harmony developed a new gene modification program for plants and animals, with the long term goal of providing an easily replenishable source of nutrients for their population without having to resort to long term use of nutrient pills and bricks, which they believed would have negative effects on the long term mental and psychological well being of the population, much like the recent discoveries on cybernetics.

This new program simply dubbed the Vineyard, quickly began to alter existing plants and animals that stores had at their disposal. Numerous animals, plants, and modified variants of each were experimented on and tested in various fashions, before the Vineyard ultimately came to a final solution that quickly became widespread in the Tai Pan network of population centers, quickly solving potential threats of starvation while also sidelining the potential issues of dehumanization through improper food sources.

Each primary section of any given population center has its own dedicated Vineyard Repository, which serves as the closest thing to a farm that Tai Pan utilizes. These repositories grow and distribute seeds and husks to stores and businesses in their general range and authority, and serve as the local authority on such matters. Vineyard Repositories are typically built as large towers, well connected to transport systems and often built-in central areas.

The Husks

Husks are cylindrical devices that come in a number of sizes, with a flat bottom and surface that is easily balanced, but notably hefty for its size. They are relatively uniform in design, with the lower half’s metal casing being ridged and colored in typically silver and black patterns, though many individuals customize theirs. The lower half has several meters, showing the battery charge, water level, and status of the food item kept within it. The top half of the device is typically clear, with thick plexiglass that allows users to see within the husk to the item stored within, though the top is metal much like the lower half. The lid often comes with a hook, allowing it to be hung up around one's living space.

Chief among the developments of the Vineyard was the husk, the basis for Tai Pan food production. Husks were designed as small to medium cylinder pods that were capable of growing specifically designed seeds into their full fruitful forms, using a store of nutrient-filled water that became easily accessible through Tai Pan’s plumbing systems. These pods, devoid of dirt, were designed to efficiently and cleanly grow plant life that had been specifically designed for such pods. They’ve become an integral part of life in Tai Pan, to the point where practically every citizen who lives in their own property owns at least a few.

Typical husks were designed with the lower halves of the pods being opaque, the metal lining hiding the inner mechanisms of the inner heating, cooling, and battery mechanisms that allowed it to use the water efficiently, while a meter scale easily readable on the outer shell gave a clear indication of how much water remained inside, and whether more would have to be added. There are also multiple canals designed to allow root growth of whatever plant life is grown within, though most Tai Pan crops share nearly identical root growth. These sections of the husks open easily to allow the removal of the roots for recycling for further seed growth.

The upper halves of the pods are typically clear, with the plant item being grown inside being shaped by both genetics and the shape of the pod, allowing the user to watch as the plant quickly matures. While many plants can be visibly determined for maturity, most pods are capable of determining when the plant life grown is fit for consumption.

Though not common, husks are often exported out to other nations, along with many common food items grown in them, often as a means to try and attract a new wave of immigrants into Tai Pan. Rice Gourd seeds and various vegetable items are frequently sold in tandem.

Rice Gourds

Rice, being a major source of food for many populations, was one of the first food items that was determined absolutely necessary for mass production. However, one of the largest problems with such an action was that traditional methods of growing rice fields proved unsustainable for a large population, especially with the environments that Tai Pan ultimately began to settle being too hostile and alien for rice growth to be optimal.

Rice gourds were created for growth within husks, and are, by the Wing of Harmony’s own estimation, is the most commonly grown food item in the entirety of Tai Pan, something that Vineyard scientists take great pride in.

Rice gourds are most often found as oval, bumpy gourds with a hard shell that protects the inner grain. While the size of rice gourds depends on the container it is grown in, and the amount of nutrient water it is given, average rice gourds can reach around eight inches in diameter at its thickest point. The roots of rice gourds grow in a specific way in the canals of a husk and are easily torn off by twisting the gourd as it is pulled out of a husk. It is suggested that some sort of utensil be used to cut open a gourd, though some chefs take pride in being able to efficiently crack open a gourd with their bare hands.

Once a gourd is cracked open, one will find that the inner walls of the hard shell are lined with seed packets that contain grains of rice facing inward to a single point, the major stem that runs through the center of the gourd. Several stems exist in the gourd, each fully encompassed by seeds facing in all directions. If a gourd is grown optimally, then there is little to no wasted space inside the gourd, and a deft hand can harvest the rice quickly and efficiently in preparation for cooking. Gourd shells are recycled for further seed growth.

The colors of gourds vary heavily, but in most cases, the coloration of the gourd shows an exact depiction of what the coloration of the rice inside will be. This includes multicolored gourds, which most often produce multicolored rice. Traditionally this only has an effect on the color of the rice and has no notable effects on the taste.

While early in Tai Pan’s history, very few variations of species existed of rice gourds, as Tai Pan developed, more and more variations began to exist. Rice gourds often come with specialized names and codes that detail the specific blend of genes used, resulting in varying tastes, textures, flavors, and other factors regarding the rice. Naturally, the public has a few favorites, and these often overshadow the others. Naturally, the most popular species of rice gourds are also exported as seeds to other nations alongside husks.

Modified Fruits and Vegetables

While many vegetables and fruits are similar to those that exist in other nations and prior within human history, none grown in husk systems are untouched by the genetic treatments of Tai Pan sciences. Nearly everything has been extensively modified to grow in the husk systems primarily, with very few cases of the plants growing outside of such systems, even in cases where the original plant was known for its hardiness. Countless vegetables can be grown in husk systems, though a handful of similarities exist among them.

While not all fruits and vegetables are grown in gourds, in most cases any item that is considered at high risk of damage from accidents often comes in gourds (such as grapes, bananas, and other soft plants). These gourds are often visually distinct from rice gourds, more closely resembling the food item that is contained within.

Regardless of whether a plant is grown in a gourd or not, the amount of any given plant that is grown is often dependent entirely on the space and nutrient water provided to it. Comparatively large amounts of a fruit or vegetable can be grown in comparison to typical manners of farming them, and in the same vein may be in a much smaller amount than are traditionally grown simply because husk systems cannot grow them in bulk.

Most notable within the husk system is the excessively large amount of genetic variations that can be purchased. Heavy variations of existing strains are used for common differences such as flavor, ripeness, texture, and color, and are often coded in similar ways to rice gourds. The different variations typically are all very nutrient-rich, particularly in organically occurring vitamins such as vitamin D due to a lack of solar production of it on some planets. The exact mix of vitamins and nutrients in such products often varies locally due to a number of factions, meaning that the same product in two regions could vary in a number of ways without the population fully being aware.

Melon Crabs

Melon Crabs are a genetically modified animal that is mass-produced in Tai Pan as the most common source of meat and is often the primary if not only meat item that most lower castes have access to. Genetic descendants of Squat Lobsters, Melon Crabs are so visually distinct that anything more than a passing family resemblance is difficult to identify if one doesn’t know what to look for.

Melon Crabs are eyeless, soft-shelled crustaceans that are extremely docile, with low environmental needs. While they cannot be grown in husks, they are easily grown in personal aquariums and more frequently in water containment units at restaurants specifically built to grow and maintain a healthy population. Their outer shell is almost the same consistency as their rich, plentiful meat, and as such requires little preparation before the meat can be cooked and served, typically only stripping the digestive system much like one would do with a shrimp.

Melon Crabs are heavily modified and come in a large variety of subspecies, typically being flavored and textured differently to match the meat similarities of chicken, beef, lamb, or other common or favored meats. As a result, while Melon Crabs are directly referred to in cooking, they’re frequently simply called the meat they replicate. Though unique blends for unique mixtures of flavor and texture are made, they tend to be less popular than ‘natural’ animal combinations.

Melon Crabs are grown from packets of their eggs which are distributed from Vineyard Repositories, though due to their soft-shelled nature, the eggs themselves are considered to be highly fragile. As a result, there’s an expected margin of failure where not all eggs will hatch due to damage in transport, though the surviving brood will often eat the failed eggs. They are fed through a mixture of nutrient water and a specific feed sold alongside the eggs.

Taianese Spices

While the artificially created foods that Tai Pan has created for its population vary extensively, the true variation of the culinary culture of the nation can be most easily identified by the spices utilized by the nation itself. After the Vineyard developed and began to spread its method of easily feeding the population of the empire, it focused on a method of keeping the fairly limited supply of food that could easily grow bland to most people enjoyable and varied. It focused its attention on the creation of spices and created its largest department of production as a result.

Taianese spices are often fine, ground powders of various consistencies that have been genetically altered from numerous plants, roots, and other sources in the labs of Vineyard Repositories. These spices show the largest extreme of variation out of any other culinary item produced by Tai Pan, with the intention of the Vineyard being to allow the taste of any dish being applied through these spices.

While many of the nearly countless spices produced are only identified through a code that allows the repository to sort and store them, the more common and popular flavors and mixtures have product names, and these are produced in larger amounts to allow for exporting outside of Tai Pan. While these spices, often coming in small containers, are a staple of Taianese culinary culture, they must be purchased directly from repositories or local grocers, as their specific blend and mixes used are too specific to be created by individuals, as well as most mixtures not having a public recipe available.

Other Agricultural Products

While the prior devices and genetically altered organisms help feed a majority of the Taianese population in large urban centers, there are of course food and agricultural items that cannot be produced through these methods. These food items are developed and harvested within the expansive towers of the Vineyard Repositories. Other food items, also heavily genetically altered, are grown, farmed, and harvested with extreme precision and efficiency, oftentimes completely unrecognizable from their source genes and parent species.

Some meats have to be raised and harvested in special manners, often done in specialized containment centers within Vineyard Repositories. Such meats aren’t common for lower classes and are typically reserved for those of higher status in Taianese society. However, it’s not uncommon for these rarer types of meats to arise in households for holidays and special occasions.

The Vineyard uses expansive hydroponic systems and vertical farming systems, as well as heavily modified animals with increased production yield to make up for their lack of quantity that could be rivaled by more expansive farmland. Vineyard Repository systems are often responsible for more than just food items, though the exact things produced in such towers aren’t common public knowledge, and often vary from place to place, though silk is known to be one of the more common non-food products to come from such repositories.

  • nations/taipan/culinary_culture.txt
  • Last modified: 2021/03/16 13:05
  • by jabonicus