Tuchuk Eating Customs
Our initial view of the Tuchuk diet paints quite a nutritionally limited and rather boring picture:
"The Wagon Peoples grow no food, nor do they have manufacturing as we know it. They are herders and it is said, killers. They eat nothing that has touched the dirt. They live on the meat and milk of the bosk."--Nomads, 4
However, in Chapter 9, which extends from pages 83-104 and which details the elaborate banquet offered by Saphrar of Turia, Kamchak of the Tuchuks was busily "scraping another plate clean, holding it to his mouth, sliding and shoving the carefully structured design of viands into his mouth" (86). Earlier in the chapter, we are told that the delicacies included the braised livers of Cosian wingfish, the spiced brains of Torian vulo, and a "tiny thing, still quivering, which had been impaled on a colored stick" (86). Further, Harold of the Tuchuks was seen eating a hard larma in the Pleasure Gardens of Saphrar of Turia (220) and “reaching over the shoulder of one of the high council of Turia and taking a candied verr chop" (253). Obviously, when in Turia, Tuchuks broadened their gustatory horizons....
John Norman also gives us a wealth of information concerning what Tuchuks eat when at home and how these foods are prepared. Although the following quotes do not represent a comprehensive listing of, for example, each and every time Tarl and Kamchak drank Paga, at least one example of each and every type of food and drink offered in the Tuchuk encampment can be found below.
“Slowly, singing a guttural chant, a Tuchuk warrior song, he began to swing the bola…It was probably developed for hunting the tumit, a huge, flightless, carnivorous bird of the plains, but the Wagon Peoples use it also, and well, as a weapon of war.”—Nomads, 24
“I heard the lowing of a milk bosk from among the wagons.”—Nomads, 27
“…cooking pots hung on tem-wood tripods over dung fires…”—Nomads, 27
“By one fire I could see a squat Tuchuk, hands on hips, dancing and stamping about by himself, drunk on fermented milk curds….”—Nomads, 28
“…the other women of the Wagon Peoples I had seen, the dour, thin women with braided hair bending over the cooking pots.”—Nomads, 32
“…even the girl was there who wore but bells and collar, struggling under her burden, long dried strips of bosk meat, as wide as beams…”—Nomads, 34
“About Kutaituchik there were piled various goods, mostly vessels of precious metal and strings and piles of jewels; there was silk there from Tyros; silver from Thentis and Tharna; tapestries from the mills of Ar; wines from Cos; dates from the city of Tor."--Nomads, 42
"...there was a yellow stain on her mouth where she had been fed some fruit..."--Nomads, 42.
"...a dried tospit, a small, wrinkled, yellowish-white peachlike fruit, about the size of a plum, which grows on the tospit bush, patches of which are indigenous to the drier valleys of the western Cartius. They are bitter but edible."--Nomads, 59.
“’I shall roast fresh meat,’ said Elizabeth…
“When the meat was ready Kamchak ate his fill, and drank down, too, a flagon of bosk milk; I did the same, though the milk, at least for me, did not sit too well with the Paga of the afternoon.”—Nomads, 139
"'Odd or even?' he asked. I had resolved not to wager with Kamchak, but this was indeed an opportunity to gain a certain amount of vengeance which, on my part, would be sorely appreciated. Usually, in guessing tospit seeds, one guesses the actual number, and usually both guessers opt for an odd number. The common tospit almost invariably has an odd number of seeds. On the other hand the rare, long-stemmed tospit usually has an even number of seeds. Both fruits are indistinguishable outwardly.
"I could see that, perhaps by accident, the tospit which Kamchak had thrown me had had the stem twisted off. It must be then, I surmised, the rare, long-stemmed tospit.
"'Even,' I said. Kamchak looked at me as though pained. 'Tospits almost always have an odd number of seeds,' he said.
"'Even,' I said. 'Very well,' said he, 'eat the tospit and see.'
"'Why should I eat it?' I asked. The tospit, after all, is quite bitter. And why shouldn't Kamchak eat it? He had suggested the wager.
“'I am a Tuchuk,' said Kamchak, 'I might be tempted to swallow seeds.'
"'Let's cut it up,' I proposed. 'One might miss a seed that way,' said Kamchak.
"'Perhaps we could mash the slices,' I suggested. But would that not be a great deal of trouble,' asked Kamchak, 'and might one not stain the rug?'
"'Perhaps we could mash them in a bowl,' I suggested. 'But then a bowl would have to be washed,' said Kamchak.
"'That is true,' I admitted. 'All things considered,' said Kamchak, 'I think the fruit should be eaten.'
"'I guess you are right,' I said. I bit into the fruit philosophically. It was indeed bitter.
"'Besides,' said Kamchak, 'I do not much care for tospit.'
"'I am not surprised,' I said. 'They are quite bitter,' said Kamchak. 'Yes,' I said.
"I finished the fruit and, of course, it had seven seeds.
"'Most tospits,' Kamchak informed me, 'have an odd number of seeds.'
"'I know,' I said.
"'Then why did you guess even?' he asked.
"'I supposed,' I grumbled, 'that you would have found a long-stemmed tospit.'
"'But they are not available,' he said, 'until late in the summer.' "--Nomads, 149-150
“Aphris got up and fetched not a skin, but a bottle, of wine, Ka-la-na wine, from the Ka-la-na orchards of great Ar itself. She also brought a black, red-trimmed wine crater from the Isle of Cos.
“’May I serve you?’ she asked.
“Kamchak’s eyes glinted. ‘Yes,’ he said.
“She poured wine into the crater and replaced the bottle...Then she knelt before him in the position of the Pleasure Slave and, head down, arms extended, offered him the crater.”—Nomads, 151.
"There were a large number of tethered animals about the outer edge of the circle, and, beside them, stood many haruspexes. Indeed, I supposed there must be one haruspex for at least for each of the many altars on the field. Among the animals I saw many verrs; some domestic tarsks, their tusks sheathed; cages of flapping vulos, some sleen, some kaiila, even some bosk...The animals sacrificed, incidentally, are later used for food, so the Omen Taking, far from being a waste of animals, is actually a time of feasting and plenty for the Wagon Peoples..."--Nomads, 171
“In the morning, before dawn, we awakened and fed on dried bosk meat, sucking the dew from the prairie grass.”—Nomads, 261
”...together we had eaten some dried bosk meat and drank water, from one of the commissary wagons attached to one of Hundreds in the city. As commanders we could eat where we chose.”—Nomads, 307
Exotic Foods: Through the sharing of dirt and grass, MTC is home to many transplanted cultures. Bartering and raiding often provides our camp with exotic foods and beverages to appeal to every diverse palate. A complete listing can be found on our Foods and Drinks page.
Eating Customs: Tuchuks also eat their bosk meat in a rather odd and distinctive way.
“He was eating the piece of bosk meat in the Tuchuk fashion, holding the meat in his left hand and between his teeth, and cutting pieces from it with a quiva scarcely a quarter inch from his lips, then chewing the severed bite and then again holding the meat in his hand and teeth and cutting again…finishing his meat and wiping his mouth in Tuchuk fashion on the back of his right sleeve…carefully wiping the quiva on the back of his left sleeve.“—Nomads, 186-7