The term Tsaban cuisine generally refers to the cuisine of ethnic Tsabans, particularly those on the Tsaban peninsula, though it can sometimes refer to cuisine of the country more generally, regardless of ethnic group. Tsaban cuisine relies heavily on fish and other seafood, venison, wild rice, and soups, and is notoriously salty. Tsaban cuisine generally relies on long cooking times at low heat to draw out and combine flavours. The country is famous for its bustling seaside marketplaces.
History and Culture
Due to historical occupation by the Osveraali Empire, Tsaban cuisine has been heavily influenced by Atsiqan cuisine. Ingredients native to Atsiq, such as kiwi and hazelnut. Later occupation by and historical proximity to Nordjaelm has also influenced cuisine.
The largest meal is the evening meal, though all meals are traditionally eaten together with the family. There is no dessert, though sweets may be eaten between meals. Broth and soups can be sipped directly from the bowl or eaten with a broad, flat spoon. Other food is cut with a knife and then eaten with a flat spoon or the hands.
In most seaside cities and many towns, seaside markets selling fresh and live fish and seafood run every day of the week. Both independent vendors and larger companies sell their goods at stalls. These markets tend to be fairly informal, and haggling is common. Live theatre is also a common fixture.
Dairy and poultry are used more frequently in the northern and northwestern provinces. Smoking, both to preserve and to flavour food, is also more common in this region.
Wild rice (genus Zizania) is a staple food of Tsaban cuisine, and has been consumed as long as humans have inhabited the region. Wild rice is grown on the banks of lakes and in shallow paddy fields (about 1-3 metres deep) created by flooding and damming.
Seafood is another staple. Fishing is a major part of Tsaba’s economy. All types of seafood in the region are consumed, including molluscs, crustaceans, and urchins. Seaweed and kelp are harvested from the Jaxukuk and Dragon Seas, and used either fresh or dried. Roe is also eaten. Traditionally, venison is the most common meat, though beef is becoming increasingly widespread. Grouse, seabirds, and rabbit are historic staples; however, though they are still commonly eaten in rural areas, they are more rare in urban centres.
Fruits and vegetables cultivated in Tsaba tend to be fairly hardy to compensate for the cooler climate. Potatoes, beets, turnips, onions, and apples have all been successfully imported and cultivated. Mushrooms are eaten fresh, but are also commonly dried. A wide variety of berries and currants are native to Alpa and feature prominently in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Though not a staple, dairy is most often consumed in the form of yogurt, kefir, or soft cheeses. Milk and cream are sometimes used in cooking.
Lard is the most common cooking fat, though oil is catching on.
Seasonings and Sauces
Tsaban cuisine is known for its saltiness. In Tsaban culture, salt is considered healthy and energizing, following a traditional belief that the sea is the source of life and vitality. A Tsaban proverb about cooking suggests that broth should be as salty as the sea. Almost all salt used in Tsaban cuisine is sea salt.
NAME TBD is a salty fermented fish sauce popular in Tsaba.
The primary source of sugar in Tsaba is sugar beet cultivation, though sugar from other sources and honey are also used. Sugar beet sugar is sold in either an unrefined syrupy form resembling molasses and a refined form resembling white sugar. Both are used as an ingredient in cooking and baking. The syrup is commonly drizzled over sweeter dishes.
Mint is one of the few herbs indigenous to Alpa, and is found in both sweet and savoury dishes. NAME TBD is a popular bright green mint simple syrup manufactured by COMPANY.
Jams and jellies are also popular in Tsaban cuisine, and use a variety of berries, and -- in modern times -- other fruits. Alongside their primary flavours, most jams and jellies contain currants for their natural pectin. Traditionally, the berries are not crushed, broken, or blended while the jam is being cooked.