Cuisine of Caphiria
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The cuisine of Caphiria is highly influenced by the ancient Latinic and native Sarpic cuisines that predated it. Dietary habits were affected by the political changes of Caphiria over its long history, and the empire's enormous expansion, which exposed Caphirians to many new provincial culinary habits and cooking methods. Caphirian cuisine is generally characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only two to four main ingredients. Caphirian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional have proliferated with variations throughout the country.
Dining and Meals
Caphirian tradition places an importance on conviviality through food dating back to antiquity. The modern Caphirian meal structure consists of: ientaculum, a very basic breakfast eaten by the lower class; prandium, a more standard and typical breakfast; vesperna is Caphiria's equivalent of lunch although it is the least consumed meal. The mother of Caphiric meals and social events is the cena (dinner), a meal which has barely changed in the last 2,000 years though the dishes themselves have become more and more exotic to the average Caphirian taste buds.
At dawn, the middle and lower classes eat an ientaculum, sitting normally at a table with their family. This gets some energy into them before quickly leaving for work. Since wealthier citizens tend not to have such obligations, they enjoy a different meal around 10-11 am. This prandium's closest equivalent in other cultures is the less common brunch as it tends to get served with food from both the ientaculum and vesperna - Caphiria's equivalent of lunch. The latter meal is most often forgotten by Caphirians because it is completely informal, merely a means of regaining enough energy to make it through a long day.
Only the cena and prandium are served in public restaurants since most citizens would not pay for the basic bread and vegetables that are staples of other meals which can easily be prepared for less in their own homes.
Both kinds of breakfast feature some kind of wheat bread dipped in olive oil or served with cheese and crackers. Prandium is interesting because it usually features meat of some kind, like pork or beef and animal products such as eggs. The most popular meat for this time of the day is lucanica, a short, smoked pork sausage.Some favorites to eat during a vesperna are: fava beans, lentils, peas, shrub leaves for seasoning, boletus, truffles, snails, clams, oysters, thrushes, dormice, sea urchins, and mulsum, a mixture of wine and honey. Honey tends to be generously added to servings.
A classic cena starts around 6pm; with great punctuality; and goes straight into the night. The meal is so long that smart guests will have only eaten breakfast that day and maybe worked up an appetite with light exercise. This monumental feast opens with a gustatio (appetizer), a non-filing course featuring delectable treats to get people's taste buds ready for the prima mensa (main course) which can last several servings depending on the ambition of the host. In the last few hours, out comes the secunda mensae (dessert). Treats offered at this point might include fruits like figs and pomegranates or sweetened pastries like cakes, rolls and fruit tarts. This part of dinner is usually very filling but many will not notice in their insobriety. When the party is ending, and the party has been a success, a guest will praise the host with one last comissatio (round of drinks) before guests return to their homes, often carried away by their servants.
Caphirian cuisine has a great variety of different ingredients which are commonly used, ranging from fruits, vegetables, sauces, meats, etc. In the north of Caphiria, fish (such as cod, bacal, etc.), potatoes, rice, corn (maize), sausages, pork, and different types of cheeses are the most common ingredients. In central Caphiria, the cuisine uses ingredients such as tomatoes, all kinds of meat, fish, and pecorino cheese. In Acreum, pasta (especially pappardelle) is traditionally served with meat sauce (including game meat). In Southern Caphiria, tomatoes (fresh or cooked into tomato sauce), peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, oranges, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, certain types of fish (anchovies, sardines and tuna), and capers are important components to the local cuisine.
Caphirian cuisine is also well known (and well regarded) for its use of a diverse variety of pasta. Pasta include noodles in various lengths, widths, and shapes. Most pastas may be distinguished by the shapes for which they are named—penne, maccheroni, spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, lasagne, and many more varieties that are filled with other ingredients like ravioli and tortellini.
Pasta is one important element of Caphirian cuisine. Pasta is categorized in two basic styles: dried and fresh. Dried pasta made without eggs can be stored for up to two years under ideal conditions, while fresh pasta will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. Pasta is generally cooked by boiling. Under Caphirian law, dry pasta (pasta secca) can only be made from durum wheat flour or durum wheat semolina, and is more commonly used in west Caphiria compared to their eastern counterparts, who traditionally prefer the fresh egg variety.