Cuisine in the Commonwealth of New England

fallout 4 - Cuisine in the Commonwealth of New England

To put it simply, everyone's gotta eat, from the lowest of slaves to the most established of settlers. The availability, variety, and supply of food is literally life-and-death for most people in Post-War America, and the Commonwealth of New England is no different. However, just because America is a post-nuclear-war blasted hellscape doesn't mean people haven't found ways to "spice up", sometimes literally, their diets, and one can find good, and even tasty, food in New England as much as anywhere in the Post-War US:

  • Sources and Availability:
    • One of the most striking characteristics of the diet of much of the Northeast is the seasonal availability of food. Unlike the factions from the warmer parts of the country where agriculture is possible for most of the year (such as the NCR or the New Colombian Confederacy) the Northeast sees its agriculture limited by the freezing colder months, with winter being felt even on the southern and eastern coasts for up to 4 months of the year, with later autumn and early spring usually seeing frosts and cold as well. The New England region is further hampered by the thin and rocky soil present across most of the arable land, which in turn shows decreased fertility compared to the more fecund soils of New York and points south. However, New England's proximity to the sea and the (relatively) rich fishing grounds off the coast gives the populace a bounty of fish, one that often can be used year-round. Add in trading, another seaborne option New England dominates in, and it becomes apparent why the majority of the Commonwealth's population is distributed along the coastline
      • Agriculture: New Englands thin and rocky soil is not very fertile, and it shows in the crops grown. Razorgrain, while viable, is not nearly as productive as Corn and Tatos (to the point where Corn on average has a threefold return in food-to-land-sown compared to Razorgrain, and potatoes have a sevenfold return on average), and New England must largely import the Razorgrain it needs, especially since it has such a growing population. Most agriculture focuses on crops that are effective even in non-productive soils and can be preserved for long periods of time, such as corn, beans and peas, onions and garlic, carrots and parsnips and turnips and rutabegas, cabbage and melons and cucumbers. Other crops include many varieties of "Mutfruits", from apples to grapes to berries, as well as maple syrup and sugar, which aside from cane-sugar is the only source of sugar available in the Post-War. The consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is only really common for all but the wealthy in the summer and early autumn, right after the harvest. At all other times of the year, most food-crops are either preserved through salting, freezing, smoking, drying or pickling, or processed into foods that can be stored for long periods of time, such as jams or sauerkraut. Due to the comparative fecundity of the Connecticut River Valley (also called the Pioneer Valley), the Commonwealth is engaged in bickering with the Kebekwa peoples and the Empire of New York over said territory, and as a result New York has prohibited the importation of Hudson and Delaware Razorgrain to New England, drastically driving up the cost of the Grain in domestic markets.
      • Fishing: Off the coasts of New England lie some of the most "fertile" fishing areas of the Pre-War world:
        Georges Bank - Cuisine in the Commonwealth of New EnglandGeorges Bank and the Grand Banks, and while they were overfished to the point of nonviability before the Resource Wars and damaged in the Great War, "today" they have recovered enough to fulfill not only the immediate needs of the Commonwealth of New England, but the East Coast of the US and even beyond. A substantial portion of the CNE population is involved in some way with the fishing industry, either catching the fish themselves, processing them on-shore, or trading them to whoever wants them. Cod is the largest catch by far, both Pre-and Post-War, and halibut comes in a close second. The proximity of New England to these fishing grounds means even the poorest citizen can enjoy fish, even fresh fish, several times a week, drastically increasing food security in the Commonwealth and leading to much-improved qualities of life due to a cheap and nourishing source of protein, and "saltfish" is the Commonwealth's leading export by both volume and value.
      • Animal Protein: An important source of nutrition, most people rely on fish and a select amount of other animals for protein. Radchickens are a common domesticated animal, kept for their eggs, and pickled eggs are a common food served in meals and as snacks. (the chickens themselves are not commonly eaten unless they stop producing eggs). Next is pork, stemming from pigs, which like dogs appear to not have mutated too much. Most rural households keep a pig penned up to feed on scraps over the course of the year, with slaughtering usually done in autumn. Bacon and ham are commonly preserved through smoking and salting, and are common sights on the table, with rendered bacon fat being one of the most popular cooking oils available. Beef and mutton are the last meats commonly eaten, usually in smaller quantities than other meats, since Brahmin and Twisthorners have utility and other economic uses (such as milk production for Brahmin and wool production for Twisthorners) other than food. Regarding wild game, venison (from Radstags) is a very common and popular meat eaten, usually taken in autumn and smoked or salted. Radturkey is a traditional New England autumn food, roasted in an oven with a wide variety of side dishes. And then there is Radrabbit, today disparaged as a "poor mans dish" due to the wide availability from fields and forests. Lastly, there is Mirelurk meat, which due to the Commonwealths extermination programs is actually rather scarce, and therefore valuable. To eat Mirelurk meat drenched in melted butter is something few Commonwealth citizens can afford to experience.
      • Trade: The Commonwealth has a wide network of trade, reach up and down the East Coast of the US to the Gulf of Mexico, Europe and beyond. This network brings in foodstuffs that aren't available in New England naturally, such as spices, molasses, fruit and rice, luxuries such as coffee, tea, and cane-sugar, or surplus staples such as Razorgrain. The Commonwealth also imports non-food goods such as Radcotton, iron ore, coal and charcoal, and exports finished goods such as mill-woven cloth, finished iron (in many forms), and ships.
  • Common Diet: With the above in mind, the cuisine of most people of the Commonwealth is dependent on three main staples: bread, broth, and brews.
  • Alcohol: Making produce such as grain, fruit or the leavings from other processes into alcohol is a common method of preserving food, making unpalatable foods "edible", or just a method to reduce unnecessary waste. Beer is a staple, made from malted Razorgrain, but hard cider made from apples is quickly supplanting the dominance of beer in the domestic market due to the increasing price of Razorgrain. Apples are cheap, can grow easily even in the New England soil and climate, and produce a lot of fruit. From hard cider it is possible to make "applejack", where a barrel of cider is left to freeze and the ice scooped out (which concentrates the alcohol in the mixture). Such a beverage is used to pay the prisoners that work on rebuilding the Commonwealth's road-system. Then there is wine, both locally produced on the South Shore of Massachusetts and imported from abroad, used for drinking and cooking. Rum is made from imported molasses, available on the cheap from sugarcane-processing plantations in the Caribbean and the New Colombian Confederacy. Finally, there is whiskey, which is commonly made by farmers using surplus corn.
  • Snacks: Snacks are commonly made using cheap, readily-available ingredients. Popcorn, made from….. well, popped corn kernels, is readily available, served on bartops to drinkers, to schoolchildren at break and everyone in between. Next are "pickles", which can be anything that have been pickled in vinegar, from your "standard" cucumber varieties to onions to carrots to eggs and more. Popular and common both as a method for preserving food and as a taste-bonus. And then there is fruit. Apples and grapes and berries of various sorts are widely available, in fresh forms during the summer and autumn months then preserved in some way later. Oranges, imported from Florida, are semi-expensive but widely-liked, and it is common to set out a bowl of oranges when expecting an important guest (or someone you want to impress). Tarberries, a mutated form of cranberry, are also commonly eaten, served as a jam or preserve mixed with sugar. Crackers are commonly served as snacks or "on-the-go" foods as well, made of flour and water and salt. And, finally, there are "chips", made of potatoes sliced thin and fried in oil.
  • Fast Food: most people at meals at home, but for the urban mill-worker that needs to get to and from work quickly, nothing beats a fish-and-chip shop, very common in the port-cities of the Commonwealth. Due to the low price and wide availability of fish and potatoes, it is economical to buy up large lots, batter them up and fry them in oil. These shops can serve hundreds of people in an hour. Another common quick-meal is baked beans, often served in a hollowed-out heel of stale bread, so that one can eat the "bowl" when the beans are gone.
  • Desserts: Pies are especially common in New England, with apple, pumpkin and blueberry perhaps the most common. Often flavored with added sugar and spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar, pies are commonly served on holidays, to celebrate a special occasion, or just to show off (butter, eggs and spices aren't cheap!). Egg custard tarts, called pastel de nata in Portuguese, are very popular, even outside the regions where Portuguese-descended people live. And during the winter it is popular to make "Maple Taffy", from boiling maple syrup hardened on snow.

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