Chnagahn - Bug Pot Party

Come and sit! All who eat the Chnagahn are friends here!
  Chnagahn is a hot stew served in large cauldrons over open fires, with raw ingredients dipped into the broth to cook them before eating. It is a popular dish across Araea as more than just a meal. To host an Chnagahn is an event, eaten in groups, or enjoyed at parties and celebrations.   Around the Chnagahn, feuds are forgotten, and bonds of kinships strengthened. It is eaten at marriages, funerals, and many other occasions.  

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by Vice.com

 

Making Chnagahn

  The first step to making Chnagahn is to make the broth. Water is boiled with bone and mushroom to create a heavy stock, then seasoned with flavorful fungi and animal blood. The broth is kept heated once served, with the stew's flavor changing as ingredients are dipped, boiled, and added throughout the meal.  
Some chefs insist on the traditional recipe for Chnagahn and consider any alterations to this age-old recipe to be sacrilegious. Brawls have broken out between competing schools of culinary thought over what kind of ingredients are acceptable. Everyone has an opinion of how Chnagahn is supposed to be served - everyone.
  Other ingredients are added raw or with minimal preparation. They are submerged into the stew either piece by piece and eaten individually, or left in the stew to boil and eaten later. The common variant of Chnagahn use skewered insects, diced or whole slug-fish, a variety of mushrooms and fungi, lizard organs, and thinly sliced meat. Many chefs have their own favorites they include, like spiders or other kinds of meat when available.    
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Traditions and Customs

  Chnagahn is a popular dish across Araea, enjoyed by nearly everyone, rich or poor. While some nobles consider it a peasant's dish, saying so out loud is unwise. To say "he doesn't like Chnagahn" is to levy a subtle condemnation of someone's character and good taste.   The stew is most commonly consumed by the working and middle class. At the end of a long season of work, Chnagahn is a pleasant and relaxing comfort enjoyed with friends and plenty of alcohol.   That is not to say it is not appreciated by the wealthy. There is no better way to sign a deal or alliance than with an ostentatious Chnagahn.    
The larger the party, the larger the pot   The size of the Chnagahn is a way to display one's wealth and generosity. People compete with one another about who can host the best Chnagahn as a sort of social status sparring.   Competing chefs must be wary not to go bigger than what they can manage: there is nothing worse than watery Chnagahn.
  Informal Chnagahn are community affairs. Neighbors or work-teams all contribute to the ingredients needed to dip into the boiling pot, while one or two people prepare the broth and fire. Those skilled in the task typically end up reprising the role and are much appreciated for their particular talent for preparing their part of the meal. People who decline to attend the Chnagahn are only excused once. Those who do so repeatedly lose standing in their community, and people begin to look on them with suspicion.   The whispers start: "he doesn't like Chnagahn".  
A common way to end a feud or quarrel is to invite the other party to host a Chnagahn together. The ensuing feast is a carefully choreographed ritual, where the feuding parties are expected to sit together, drink together and eat together. At the end of a successful Chnagahn and in the eyes of all those there to witness it, the feud is put to rest.   It is considered exceptionally poor form to dig it back up after such a feast.
Cuisine in the Caverns   Necessity and starvation have guided the culinary traditions of Araea. Everything that can be eaten finds itself in the pot, over a fire, or subject to more esoteric ways of preparing them. While mushrooms and insects are staples for everyone, rich or poor, humanity races with everything that creeps, crawls, and stalks through the caverns - eat or be eaten.   Read More About Araea Cuisine

Regional Variants

Chnagahn has spread to almost every corner of Araea, and each region has made its own mark on the dish, adjusting it to fit with the ingredients available to them. While the broth is usually the same, with different bones used depending on what animals nest in the region, the ingredients for boiling can vary greatly.   Some common variants are:   Chnagahn-ika is commonly eaten by the city-states that live near the Abyss, adding seafood to the menu. Squid, shrimp, crab, or sea-urchin are popular and sometimes added live to the boiling broth in cages, while thinly sliced fish of any number of variants are popular.  
Nebiri-Shi or Devil-Shrimp are considered especially valuable, if only because it means someone survived meeting one.
  Chnagahn-Rã is eaten in the Outer Shell near the Surface and substitute the ingredients of the depth for what they can scavenge from the Surface. It tends to feature fewer mushrooms and more questionable plant-matter. Sometimes derisively referred to as Blight-Broth by chefs from the Inner Shell, it is a title not entirely unwarranted.   Chnagahn-Pai is either an abomination against Chnagahn or the highest culinary experience, depending on which chef you ask. Pai is the Chnagahn of the wealthy and substitutes "lesser" ingredients for more expensive ones. It is rich in meat, fat, and rare treats like the Gar'ro'dah.  
Stew Snacks   Vinhnh mushrooms are a popular treat to go along with the Chnagahn. The sponge-like mushrooms are dipped into alcohol until they've absorbed as much as possible before being boiled in the stew.
   
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Seasoning

In addition to flavors from ingredients, Chnagahn is seasoned with ground fungi powder and salt. It is sometimes given an extra kick by adding psychedelic narcotics, usually from mushrooms. These are added into the stew and are sometimes an alternative to alcohol at the Chnagahn party.   These seasonings are mild with pleasant, sensory-warping effects such as enhancing taste or smell, changing one flavor for another, or peaceful hallucinogenics. More powerful narcotics than that are reserved for rare occasions.    
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Cover image: by Sia Fusion Eatery

Comments

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Eternal Deity Ademal
Ademal Jacklyn
19 Oct, 2018 14:39

I made many expressions while reading this, most of them grossed out, and yet I've reached the end of the article to find myself somewhat envious that your people have such a binding and wholesome tradition.   They wouldn't think highly of me, though. "he doesn't like Chnagahn"   What sort of drink would you pair with this? I imagine as such a staple feast it has its impact on the economy and on what is considered necessary in a kitchen, is that true?

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19 Oct, 2018 15:02

You might enjoy Chnagahn-Pai more: much more meat, much fewer bugs. ;D   Either weak fungi-beer or strong fungi/mushroom spirits, usually. Brewed drink are safer to drink then straight water, so that tends to be the traditional thing.   And yeah; you can make a living being the crafter who makes Chnagahn pots, for sure. There's inns with particularly good pots, etc. The pot is the big draw, as far as tools go. Otherwise, it's knives and ladles, pretty typical stuff (plus bug-skewers, I guess? :D )   Thank you for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the read. <3


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
19 Oct, 2018 15:31

Agreeing with Ademal on this one. It's not something I'd want on my dinner table but holy crap the amount of effort that went into tying it to the culture is superb. I also like the idea of the 'spiked' Chnagahn using some more powerful ingredients.   The way that the affair is so community tied reminds of some Ethnis Trivia I wrote a while back, and that's a good thing! Is vegetarianism a thing in Araea? Is there a Chnagahn that is more suited for folks who dislike bugs? I see the Pai varient you mention in Ademals comment.   Keep up the fantastic work Qurillion!


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Check out my worldbuilding in the Ethnis Universe!
19 Oct, 2018 21:54

Thank you buddy! :D I appreciate it!   Vegetarianism isn't really an option unless you are pretty dang wealthy; food is too scarce to be very picky. Some do for holy-man-on-the-mountain type reasons. But that's about it. It's uncommon enough that there's not really a veggie-pot version.   <3


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
19 Oct, 2018 21:48

Not going to lie, I would attempt to create this hot pot and eat it too! There were lots of mention of different meat, so I couldn't help imagine what other flavors would intermingle with all the different meats like sources of acid and salt to make meat tender or to cut through fatty bits. That psychedelic seasoning is intriguing though! Does it have any taste or does it just trick the brain into different taste sensations?

19 Oct, 2018 21:59

If you do, I would love to see pictures of that. XD   In real life, there's a pill made from miracle berry that turns sour into sweet. Some of the psychadelics might of of that variety, turn acidic food into buttery, etc. Definitely some of that. :)


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
artificial_infinity
artificial_infinity
20 Oct, 2018 19:43

I'm not going to pretend this looks particularly appetising, but it's a great idea! I love the cultural variants you've added into the article, it makes it feel really realistic and grounded. What was the origin of this dish?

22 Oct, 2018 07:35

In-setting or out of it?   In the world, it probably came from communal meals where they threw whatever they had into boiling water to try and feed everyone.   Out of it, the main inspiration for the dish is the hot pot and just eating big bowls of stew with my family, pretty much. :)


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
Elijah T
Elijah Talbot
23 Oct, 2018 03:19

The article is amazing. The amount of detail that is put in the article makes my stomach turn. But I have one question, how much does it cost to make the meal? I don't mean the exact price but how costly the meal is. The reason I say that is because it might affect on how the world might view the dish. If its cheep why would they bother making it a cultural custom? If its expensive why wouldn't the higher classes not eat it? If the price is just right how did it become popular?

23 Oct, 2018 20:29

It is a reasonable expense, which is why it is so popular. The cost of the quantity required is cut down because it is typically spread out over all the feasters.


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
23 Oct, 2018 20:16

Honestly, just looking over the article, it's for sure a bit stomach-turning. But the amount of depth put into the entire thing makes up for it for sure. Love that you even made a few variations of the dish with different names!   I'm just curious about a bit of history of the dish, what caused the creation or naming of dish and if any people of your world actually don't like the idea of eating lizard organs and so on... Otherwise, good article!

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23 Oct, 2018 20:43

It probably has its origin communal meals where they threw whatever they had into boiling water to try and feed everyone, back in more tribal days.   Food is scarce in Araea: almost all of human civilization exists underground and the surface is a blasted, irradiated wasteland. Lizards and bugs are the most common sources of meat there are, so it's either like that or starve. On the plus side, both organs and bugs can be delicious.   https://www.worldanvil.com/w/araea-qurilion/a/cuisine-in-the-caves-overview-article


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
1 Sep, 2020 11:57

Ok, this was equal parts delightful and ... disturbing on a culinary level. :D   I have to admit ... I'd actually try Chnagahn ...   The tradition is great! I love how its a community affair and rooted so deep into the culture. So are there specialties in the crafting of the Chnagahn pots? I was curious since this is such a important tradition, are pots styled? Tell stories of a past or particularly memorable event? Maybe even where a famous Chnagahn chef recited their favorite recipe and it was immortalized on a pot?

— The wolf of Tales of Justice, Creator of Legends of Elohey, Star Wars: Shards, Fiven Chronicles and more!
12 Nov, 2020 19:13

That really was what I wanted to focus on :) The context of the tradition and dish in the world.   And yeah, that definitely makes sense - I think that sounds more than likely and could be a good thing to a dd when/if I go back to this article! Great idea! :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
7 Oct, 2020 23:33

Aside from the whole bugs thing, this sounds amazing. What an amazing communal experience. I love all the little details on the culture surrounding chnagahn too, like digging up a feud after a chnagahn to end it is bad form, and the regional variants! Really great article, Q. :)

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
12 Nov, 2020 19:13

Thank you <3 :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
27 May, 2021 14:32

This article is absolutely disgusting XD Psychedelic insect stew…   " Nebiri-Shi or Devil-Shrimp are considered especially valuable, if only because it means someone survived meeting one." XD   " To say "he doesn't like Chnagahn" is to levy a subtle condemnation of someone's character and good taste." This is a nice details :D   Great article, I love how you've incorporated cultural details into that :D And all of those magnificent pictures… so appetising…

5 Jun, 2021 10:44

Thanks! I love doing that - culture and context is really what makes something interesting and really makes it come to life, I think <3


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!