cuttlefish ink

A Peek at the Food of Terratus.

Since I love world-building and food, I figured a post looking at the food and agricultural products in Tyranny was something that I had to do. I’m listing ingredients and crops here, but could be persuaded to come up with a cuisine and meal post much, much, later.

Because the game takes place mostly in the Tiers, most of this information may be only pertinent to them, if something can be linked back to the North or the rest of the Empire, I’ll make sure to mention it. Another thing to note is that a decent number of the consumable items use art assets from Pillars of Eternity, a very different setting with different influences, and that makes it a little murkier to interpret how it could fit into Tyranny’s setting.

The format will be a list (again) of named edibles found or mentioned in-game, separated into food groups. And thanks to everyone who helped me with this list or tolerated my yammering about it, you know who you are!

NOTE: VERY MUCH A WORK-IN-PROGRESS, I WILL ADD MORE IF I FIND MORE, LIKE MY OTHER LORE POSTS

WARNING: MILD TYRANNY SPOILERS

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Venice

Here’s an important thing to know: I romanticize (and sometimes Romanticize) everything. I get sighing and poetic and starry-eyed over things like trains and hostels and rainy windows. Cities are especially bad. If I’ve read the name in an old book, even once in passing, I’m going to be imagining intrigue and antique maps and winding streets and merchants of unimaginable riches, and no one can stop me. Of course, this being A. the 21st century and B. real like, it’s never quite what I imagine.

Here’s another important thing to know: Venice is the only place I’ve ever been that was exactly what I’d imagined.

Venice (La Serenissima, the Bride of the Sea, the Pearl of the Adriatic, the City of Bridges… I’m not the only one who gets all soppy and prosy over it) is an absolute labyrinth of bridges, milky jade-green canals, and ornate 14th century architecture. Lit with rose-colored street lamps and awash in Adriatic fog, it’s eerie and heartbreakingly beautiful. Without exaggeration, there is nowhere like it in the world.

  • The city appears virtually the same as it did six hundred years ago. It’s a large part of its charm. Unfortunately, this architectural stasis also applies to the septic system, which in many cases still empties into the canals. Never touch the fucking water.
  • Incidentally, the best times to visit are spring and fall. You’ll miss the majority of the tourist crowds, and the weather is mild and pleasant, if not necessarily sunny. In the winter the city often floods, and in the heat of summer the canals reek.
  • If the city floods (l’aqcua alta, the high water, caused by rain and exceptionally high tides in the winter months), you may want to buy waterproofing covers for your shoes (usually about €20).
  • You can find L’Acqua Alta maps at the railroad station and Piazza San Marco, showing you the routes still accessible, either because they’re naturally higher ground or because of second sidewalks that can be folded out during the high water. At the vaporetti terminal (the ferries that function like public buses), you can find a calendar predicting l’acqua alta over the next month.
  • You get from the airport to the Venice  proper by public bus or by train. Both bring you to the small station at the edge of the city. The rest of Venice is strictly pedestrian.
  • Climb the bell tower in Piazza San Marco. It’s not expensive, and it’s a beautiful view of the piazza, the city, and the surrounding ocean.
  • Venice the perfect city to get lost in, because it’s gorgeous, impossible to go in a straight line, and impossible to actually leave. For someone who once held a map of Paris upside down for a literal hour before realizing why it was taking me so long to find the damn hostel, that is an ideal combination.
  • A useless navigation tip is to watch the house numbers. If they change dramatically when you cross a bridge (e.g. 13, 14, 77, 78) then you’ve just crossed from one island to another. If they stay the same (e.g. 13, 14, 15, 16) then you’ve only crossed one of the later man-made canals.
  • It’s virtually impossible to walk ten feet without passing a store selling Venetian masks. The intricate designs and empty, staring eyes contribute quite a lot to the general eerie, era-out-of-time atmosphere.
  • Gondolas are quite expensive, used for tours rather than getting around (and haggling down the price means they’ll more than likely cut out the best parts). But to ride in a gondola for only about €2, look for traghetti: worn down gondolas used to ferry people back and forth across the Grand Canal, usually as people are coming and going from work.
  • If you need to get around, take the vaporetti along the Grand Canal, or a more expensive water taxi. I recommend you get on a vaporetto during sunset to see the city from the water.
  • The vaporetti can also take you to the islands: Murano, Burano, and the Cimetario. Murano and Burano are famous for glassworking and laceworking respectively, as well as houses painted every color of the rainbow, to help fishermen find the right home in the fog. (At low tide, when there’s a tiny crescent of beach by the Murano vaporetti terminal, you can see the ‘sand’ is almost entirely seaglass). The vaporetti also stop at Cimitero, Venice’s cemetary, which is silent, beautiful, and eerie.
  • The Doge’s Palace is beautiful inside as well as out, but honestly, if you’re on a tight budget it’s not worth the €16 admission ticket
  • If you want to visit the Basilica di San Marco, book a reservation online (€1.50) to save yourself literal hours in line. Bring the printed reservation. No photography is allowed inside.
  • Surrounding Piazza San Marco, you can see the astronomical clock, Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s palace, the column topped with the winged lion of Venice, and thousands upon thousands of pigeons. Nearby is the Bridge of Sighs, which connected the prison to the interrogation chambers of the Doge’s Palace.
  • In January/February there’s the famous Venetian Carnival; in September there is the Regatta ‘Storica.
  • Venice is very expensive and many of its restaurants are frankly garbage. Instead, find one of Venice’s many bacari where you can have a drink and cichetti (small, savory finger food). Basically, you pick out the ones you want and they’ll make a plate for you. Locals tend to have two or three while chatting with friends, and then possibly move to the next bacaro and repeat. Tourists often get ten or twelve for a full meal. Either way, the seafood is almost always delicious, and a glass of wine or spritz shouldn’t set you back too much here.
  • If you do want to sit down and have a proper restaurant meal, some local specialties are polenta, risi e bisi (a dish of peas and rice), and several different plates seasoned with cuttlefish ink (alla seppia).
  • Try spritz, a traditional Northern Italian drink made of Aperol and Prosecco. I recommend a small bar called Al Merca, right by the Rialto bridge, which is quite cheap at €2 a glass.
  • Only four bridges cross the Grand Canal. The most iconic is the Rialto, which in the morning is surrounded by a busy market of fruits, vegetables and cheeses. Be careful in the rain on Ponte della Costituzione; the turquoise glass is pretty but gets as slippery as if it’s been oiled.
  • The oldest cafe in the world, Café Florian, is in Piazza San Marco. It’s gorgeous, dates back to 1720, frequently offers live music, treats you like royalty, and charges somewhere between €10-15 for a coffee. If you have money to burn and some nice clothes, get a bit fancy and go have an espresso.
  • There is no such thing as cheap accommodation on the island of Venice. You can pay upwards of €30 a night, you can stay in Mestre (the mainland extension of Venice), or you can couchsurf. That said, if your heart is set on staying in Venice proper, I would recommend the Ostello Santa Fosca. It has a lovely garden and courtyard overlooking the canal. Get a bottle of wine and some good bread and watch the gondoliers go by.
  • On a map, Venice looks vaguely like a fish. At the eastern end, the tail of the fish, there’s a beautiful park. If you’re getting sick of the bustle and narrow alleyways and tourists, it’s a lovely walk along the ocean to a calm green park.

Cuttlefish are amazing creatures that can instantly vary their color and shape either for camouflage or to communicate with each other. They use jet propulsion to move backward in quick bursts through the water.

The ink that Cuttlefish use to distract and escape from predators has long been used by artists, writers and later, photographers. Its characteristic dark reddish-brown color is where the term “sepia” comes from; Sepia literally means Cuttlefish in ancient Greek, so just think of these amazing cephalopods next time you use a sepia filter on one of your pictures - photo taken in seagrass beds off of North Sulawesi, Celebes Sea

1.

You would dream of lying down in some gracious ocean, letting
it swallow you. To tumble in that heavy silence, to find a pulse
in its cool belly. It’s silly now. You saw the women with their
pearl-toothed smiles, their casual grace, you saw this and you
needed a gravity to succumb to. You were heavy in ways
you did not understand.

2.

He has a smile so wide you can count the gaps in his teeth.
You have a different face for each day, trying on each one,
checking angles in the mirror. Today you are a doe, pearls
round your neck, red lips, big eyes, staggering on shaky legs.
When he laughs, you see clear to the cave in the back of his
throat. You want to get lost in the city of his teeth, to curl up
in his mouth. You wonder if being a woman is nothing
but wishing to be devoured.

3.

A letter slips under the door: Who are you, really? You try
to write it down. Your pen levitates above paper, clutching it
all white-knuckled, eyebrows knitting together. You cannot
pull the words out to respond, or you do not remember. You
look in the mirror. Someone has written woman? in red lipstick.
You do not have answers to these questions and you are afraid.
You crack open your skull and tip your head, expecting an ocean.
A question mark tumbles out, a pearl.

4.

Where did you come from, someone is asking. My mother is the
sea,
you lie, and it’s a beautiful one. I was never a child, only
a milky strand of pearls
, you add, half believing it.

5.

You feel something in your chest rise up as if by some
unspeakable magic, fluttering towards the flicker of a match
in the hand of a boy who smiles too wide, whose cheeks bloom
twin roses when you look up through spidered lashes to challenge
his shy gaze. It’s just the moonlight, you want to say, the spell of
the ocean. 
Your ribcage parts ever so slightly, threatening to
unlock your chest, and you try, you really do, you try to pretend
you don't want this. He leans forward to light your cigarette. It’s
like turning a key. 

6.

Where did you come from. He is asking about your mother. He
is opening you, lighting a match to things long untouched by
light. Where did you come from. You think on that woman,
eyes like two big pearls, her half-thoughts, her half-kept house,
half done, half asleep. You tell him you were born to a woman
who only does things half-way. Does that make me only
half a woman?

7.

You have new dreams, now, of little children made of pearls,
slippery and cool in your palms. All girls. You clutch them tight.
They are heavy in ways they do not understand. Why why why.
You do not have answers to these questions and you are afraid.
Somewhere, a city weeps.  

The ability to ask questions like ‘Where am I and who is the “I” that is asking?’ is one of the things that distinguishes mankind from, say, cuttlefish.*

* Although of course it’s not the most obvious thing and there are, in fact, some beguiling similarities, particularly the tendency to try to hide behind a big cloud of ink in difficult situations.

—  Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent
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“Cuttle Cut” 💦
Cuttlefish Ink and cuttlebone on thick neck, brimming with life. On paper. With pen. #ink #art (at Lady Brisbane)

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Inktober #31! A self portrait. With a jumping spider. So I guess some will find this Halloween themed after all? (Hey, if you have to unfollow me for this, that’s your choice! It is tagged appropriately as “spider.”)

If one could ride a jumping spider, you’d get hella bad whiplash. Damn!

For being one of my favorite animals, I sure do need to draw them more. (It’s all those leg joints!) I have vowed to do a full fledged piece using this concept. Someday… (When I get better at drawing spiders!)