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The Argentolian Empire is a massive land that spans a region roughly the size of the continental United States. Located in the southern hemisphere of its planet, the north is generally tropical, the south generally has a Mediterranean climate, and the middle is a series of harsh deserts and high mountains.

Here's a climate map of Sparteia, a northern region of the empire:

enter image description here

Here's a climate map of Pheron, a central region of the empire:

enter image description here

And here's a climate map of Lurias, a southern region of the empire: enter image description here

Finally, here's the whole empire just to give you an idea of where everything goes: enter image description here

Given that the Argentolian Empire has the flora and fauna of the Palearctic, Nearctic, and Neotropical realms (for the purpose of ingredients), how would this varied geography and varied climates affect differences in cuisine in these provinces and just in general?

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    $\begingroup$ Differences in cuisine are driven by the differences in available products and spices. Historically I would assume that individual regions of your empire may develop quite a different cuisine, but presently, what is the tech level and the amount of trade within your empire? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Mar 3 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander tech level is high middle ages (1300s-ish), and there is plenty of trade (although much more of it is by sea than overland due to the difficult geography) $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Rottweileronmarket-day. "Pheraki Beach" is just the name of a town in Sparteia. The words on the map are all just town and city names, not the names of geographic features. If you're asking why the map of Sparteia doesn't connect to anywhere on the others, it's because it's not supposed to. Sparteia is one of like 4 different northern regions, it's just the one I feel is most representative of the north overall. The same applies to the other 2 regions (Pheron is not the whole center, and Lurias is not the whole south. Those are just the most representative regions for the center and south.) $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Rottweileronmarket-day. I added a map of the whole Argentolian Empire to give you some perspective on where these places are. $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ Gosh o'm'gosh. No one can fault you on not having worked on this quite a bit. Very impressive. $\endgroup$ Mar 3 at 20:49
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Look at Europe.

Weasel I am going to guess that you are American and I mean no offense if you are not. Most Americans would struggle to identify differences in cuisine across China or Africa or Central Asia but many of us know something of Europe - we can find it on a map and know that it is comprised of many little countries all with different languages that used to fight a lot but now are part of one big happy Empire called the Empire Uropean. Except the United Kingdom that bailed out.

Some of us have even gone to Europe. I went to Europe. In Portugal even little bodegas had these giant white smelly slabs of hard salted fish. I thought "good god who would eat that given a choice of anything else?". Those folks, it seems. It was not bad but they had fresh fish too! In Spain which is right next door I did not see any of that but they were eating a lot of other unusual stuff like snails. In France they ate horse kidneys which I had not heard of eating before. Also snails. Italy had pizza and tiny cups of coffee. I did not get to Romania.

Those places are practically in each others laps. They have open borders and a common currency. You can get chocolate in all of those places. But they each have a regional cuisine because not long ago they were not in an empire and they were each doing their own thing.

So too the nations of your empire. They are all imperial now but I bet before they were conquered and added to the empire they were fighting one another and doing their own things in their own country.

In your fiction you can spice up the fact that it is an empire of far flung countries by having individuals in those countries comment on foods and practices from the other countries. When I show up in Italy carrying a giant slab of salt cod from Portugal they can ask me to leave it outside and offer me a tiny cup of coffee and some amazing cookies.

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What's nearby?

People generally eat food that can be produced and stored locally. Historically in much of the world, producing food (or working enough hours to afford food) took a lot of effort. So finding foods that were nearby and slow to spoil was key. Some types of food exist everywhere, like breads. But others strongly rely on local culture.

Even today in wealthy nations, these local food traditions remain. As an example, consider the popularity of trout versus catfish in the United States. Neither fish is a luxury good and both could be sold anywhere in the country thanks to a modern logistics network. Yet data from Google Trends shows a definite regional preference. Guess where catfish are easier to find.

Google Trends data comparing US searches for "catfish" and "trout"

I suggest Googling the types of plants and animals that exist on Earth in areas that have climates that are the same as those in your world. You can make arbitrary changes to fit your story by introducing different cultural attitudes, which also have an important role in a given area's diet.

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Cuisine may vary greatly, but merging all regions in one empire would make most dishes available to everyone.

Think of China, for example. Historically, many regional cuisines had developed, like Cantonese, Hunan, Sichuan and even Mongolian (which is not strictly a Chinese cuisine, but often grouped together). When more trade made products, spices and recipes available in other regions, they quickly adopted some of the other's recipes. Note that while the new dishes were (and still are) known by their historic roots, residents of other regions may come to greatly appreciate those and incorporate them in their everyday life.

As far as how quick this process would go, it depends on the amount and speed of trade. If a certain culture (or livestock) can not be grown or bred in another region, it has to be imported, and that drives up prices. For spices, the markup would be insignificant (within a unified empire), but shipping fresh fruits may be out of question.

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