Worldbuilding Blogfest Day 4 – Risis


*shivers* I just . . . don’t understand how it can be 70 degrees one day, and 24 degrees two days later. Though last week we had those temps IN A SINGLE DAY. I’m ready for summer. Really.

Day 4 – Food, Drink, Holidays, and Culture

Okay, here’s the deal:

The Rishka are almost extinct, Sachi is the last one. While she knows some things about her race, and about her culture, she’s experienced very little of it, with the exception of the Naming each Rishka goes through when they choose to follow the path of the Kveres. It’s essentially their coming-of-age ritual.

Since the Kashtophim were initially a group that broke off from the Rishka, there are some cultural similarities that have evolved over the years. One of these is what has come to be known as the risis among the Kashtophim.

My eyes met Taphim’s and for the first time I let myself be truly glad about his presence. He gave me a smile that smoothed away the worries etched on his face, and it sent my heart into flutters and a blush spread my cheeks. I did love him. I just didn’t want to admit it yet.

He held out a hand and lifted me up from the floor. His voice floated through my senses. “Sachi, tonight we will share a risis.”

“Risis?” The word was unfamiliar. His grip was strong, but gentle, as he helped me stand. Somehow, I found myself in his arms.

His arm wrapped around my waist and pulled me against him. I could feel his heartbeat echoing mine – the same rapid pattering, the same flush across his skin. “A traditional meal for lovers to share.”

My breath caught in my throat, and my voice infused a hint of warning. “Taphim.”

“Sachi.” He knew how to read me now, and it was too dangerous, because I knew he heard the longing behind my hesitation. “Please, let me spend this evening with you. I promise, I won’t ask you to do anything except talk.”

(from chapter 4 of Catalyst)

What Taphim doesn’t know is that the risis meal has evolved from what used to be the year-long traditional courtship of the Rishka.

There’s a (kind-of funny) story behind this too. So, since Catalyst is entered in the NaNo Virtuosos contest, it was obviously my NaNo Novel written in 2012 (because YES, I am insane!).

When I got Catalyst polished enough to send out to my critique partners/beta-readers, almost all of them sent it back with this comment, or one similar to it:

FOUR PAGES of build up and you don’t actually show us the risis?!

So . . . last week, I sat down with my Rabid Rainbow Ferrets (long story, but it’s a group of six of us who have essentially turned into best friends/reliable critique partners/we-might-as-well-be-sisters) and they helped me brain storm the risis.

Here’s what we came up with (this is STRAIGHT from my notes, so apologies for the roughness of it):

Rishka: (undetermined name as of yet)

1 year of “courtship” between a couple seeking marriage, with five specific meals that are cooked & eaten together. Each main dish represents a specific aspect of a relationship, and ties them in with nature’s life cycles.

Spring – meat dish (most likely lamb or veal), something traditionally slaughtered the spring. The death of the animal represents the “death” each participant in the relationship must agree to – to their own desires and selfishness, and to be willing to lay down their life for the other.

Summer – salad with greens & fruits. The greens representing the fast, new growth of a relationship, and fruits the sweetness of it. The greens would have also represented the fragility of a new relationship because they can be easily crushed and bruised.

Autumn – roasted butternut or acorn squash with a pecan-sugar sauce. Representing the hard-headedness of humans. The Rishka would have tossed the nut shells into the fire, representing the willing compromise that must be present between a couple.

Winter – a dessert made of preserved berries from the first spring harvest, and cheese. Representation of a new leaf always being imminent after a hardship – a seed must die to be reborn, a good relationship grows stronger and more flavorful the longer it ages, it has stood the test of time, etc.

Proposal – the couple makes a loaf of bread together, and must consume the entire thing for a meal to show their intent to wed to the entire people.

Kashtophim: Risis

1 meal, with 4 dishes representing the four seasons and how they relate to different stages of a relationship. The partakers of the meal have no obligation in its preparation.

Spring – lamb with mint sauce. The lust/desire for meat represents the lust/desire for the other partner at the beginning of a relationship, since relationships among the Kashtophim are based more on mutual desire than benefit. Rich, desirable flavor from the meat, the mint is cool and refreshing and “tingly” like initial attraction.

Summer – salad with greens & fruits. The greens representing the fast, new growth of a relationship, and fruits the sweetness of it.

Autumn – roasted butternut or acorn squash with a pecan-sugar sauce. Representing the hard-headedness of humans. They’ve lost the shell-burning tradition over the years because of the fact that the couple doesn’t prepare the meal anymore.

Winter – same as above for food item, but the Kashtophim have chosen it to be a reminder of ending an “aged” relationship on a sweet note and moving on to something else, instead of looking toward the coming hope of spring.

(I owe many thanks to Serena, whose culinary knowledge far exceeds my own. Alas, she has no blog for me to link to.)

And a couple other things I’ve promised to share during the week:

shilaken elixirs – the Kashtophim’s attempt to develop a way to become immortal. It’s . . . rather awful. In construction. I would imagine in taste, also, though.

jirn – some sort of drink with caffeine in it. I have not yet decided if it’s more like coffee or tea.

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