The stereotypical Dungeons and Dragons campaign starts like this, “Our heroes meet in a tavern”.
But what kind of tavern? Is it a dwarven one, an elven one, a halfling one? What kind of customers are there? More importantly, what kind of food is there?
The exact composition of your tavern will depend on the campaign that you’re playing, of course. But at least you have some help with the menu – the Forgotten Realms are filled with a wide variety of food and drink.
Since the standard setting for Dungeons and Dragons is pseudo-medieval, it’s a pretty safe bet that any real-world foods from that time period can be found in the Forgotten Realms. That means that simple meat and bread dishes are common, as well as boiled or roasted vegetables. Spices would typically be the property of the wealthy (at least on the European-inspired Swordcoast), but not completely unheard of among the common folk. Most meats were given flavor by the addition of sauces which they would be dipped in.
One notable dish, likely to be found in smaller towns where the inn doesn’t have the funds to hire a chef or cook especially for guests, is perpetual stew. This is a pot of stew which is kept perpetually simmering over the fire (sometimes for decades at a time – don’t worry, it’s still safe to eat!), and very rarely emptied out completely. Instead, ingredients are added as necessary to replenish the dish, often as partial payment for eating from it. These stews are likely to contain whatever can be grown or hunted locally, since finer meats or spices would be wasted on them.
You can also find a list of, and recipes for, various medieval dishes here: Medieval Cookery
Unique Food in the Forgotten Realms
Aside from medieval dishes, the Forgotten Realms also has a number of fun and unique foods that can be used to ‘flavor’ (pun intended) your campaign.
Note: We haven’t included any desserts here, those will get their own list!
Here are some of our favorites:
Meat Dishes in the Forgotten Realms
This halfling and gnomish dish is certainly a ‘delicacy’ – its maggots fried in maple syrup.
One of very few elven meat dishes, surkyl is baked porcupine. Don’t worry, they take the quills off before eating it.
A dwarven dish of sliced potatoes, onions, and boar. It’s extremely common all throughout the Forgotten Realms.
A meat skewer, made from chunks of alternating horse and ox meat which have been marinated in various strong sauces.
While not quite a meat, jellied eggs are far from vegetarian. This Thayan delicacy is pretty gross to most outsiders, since the green jelly encompassing soft eggs with runny red yolks are meant to have the same texture when cut as delicate human flesh.
First presented to humans by lizardfolk at the signing of a treaty, this dish of snails is traditionally served in a human skull. It’s not meant to be an insult, but nonetheless is fairly infamous among the Forgotten Realms.
As the name implies, scaletail is fried snake (or lizard) meat skewers. It’s incredibly common in the southern parts of the Realms, but only very rarely as far north as the Swordcoast.
Cheeses of the Forgotten Realms
Luiren Spring Cheese
Also known as ‘cheeeese’, or ‘mind cheese’, this greenish cheese is actually pretty gross. However, it has a drug-like effect on halflings, in whom it causes sluggishness, relaxation, and sometimes hallucinations, like strong alcohol. It is also highly addictive to them.
This cheese, so white that it can be translucent if you slice it thinly enough, packs a strong and rich flavor. It’s also called ‘ethereal cheese’.
This soft, rich cheese is made from catoblepas milk. Many a retired or unemployed adventurer find work doing the milking necessary to make it.
A Rashemen cheese, sjorl is so potent and smokey that few who aren’t Rashemen can tolerate it.
Breads of the Forgotten Realms
Incented for travel, this halfling bread is shelf-stable for weeks at a time. It’s also particularly tasty and colorful, since it’s flavored with lemons and oranges, which also serve as a source of vitamins.
Helm’s Hold Journeybread
Another traveler’s-loaf, these simple, hardtack biscuits are cheaply made and bought in Helm’s Hold, a northern city.
Originating in the wizarding nation of Halruaa, this sweet bread gets its name from its shape. It’s fried, cooled, and then rolled in powdered sugar and spice. They’re commonly sold in city food-stalls.
This sweet bread is leavened with yeast and eggs. While it’s unknown who invented it, but it was created in the city of Amn, and named for the gnomish baker who popularized it.
Plant Dishes of the Forgotten Realms
Commonly eaten by elves, this thick, cold soup is made of five different types of tree bark. Despite this, it tastes like beef stew.
This sweet-and-spicy sauce is a halfling specialty, made of plums, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and thello-fruit (essentially kiwis).
Found throughout the Realms, gurdats are a cheap favorite of pan-fried mushrooms and cheese.
This vegetable soup, cooked via heated stones, is a common meal in Icewind Dale. In-universe, it gets its name from the stones used to cook it, but in truth takes its name from the folklore ‘Stone Soup’, wherein a traveler, pretending to make soup from a stone, convinces the people of a town to contribute enough ingredients to make a delicious meal.
A mashed vegetable pie favored by elves as a kind of traveling-food. Humans and dwarves also call it ‘root pie’, since it is often made with potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Do you have any favorite foods or dishes from the Forgotten Realms? What are they? Have you managed to work them into any of your campaigns? Let us know in the comments below!