A Workman's Breakfast Material in Kalan | World Anvil

A Workman's Breakfast

Breakfast is a universal of Nero, especially of Pani Puri, culture. What this breakfast looks like depends on your class. The institution seems to be instinct, something I envy for a homeland where it is uncommon, though my beloved insists on it every morning come rain or shine.
— Anolf Oshtafan
  The Workman’s Breakfast, or more simply Pajaru, is a type of meal, eaten by the lower classes of Pani Puri. Its main purpose is to keep a person full during long work hours where breaks are rare.  

The Meal Itself

Prepared by the entire community, the meal is made for mass consumption. Usually, a person eating gets a slice of bread or some rice on a maruni. Sometimes the bread is homemade, but most of the time it’s yesterday’s scraps. Then it is a fight to the death to get what you want out of gosi bowls before it’s too late.   Gosi bowls contain fried vegetables, fish, eggs, fruit, etc. Their contents depends on the availability of ingredients and personal preferences. For example, Shari pajaru meals involve more fish than those inland.   It’s not just the bread that’s a leftover; most of the meal is made of leftovers. It’s all to make use of the food at hand; would you prefer slightly stale bread or potentially not having meal for a day and a half? Too, it saves preparation time for the entire community. What’s the point of getting up before you need to? The ritual of rummaging your house for what’s left is now enshrined into the public consciousness as the last thing done before hitting the bed.  


Nero folk shy away from eating red meat and cheese as part of their pajaru meal from because of superstition. Especially if you are a woman. The superstition applies only to women but most of the preparers of these meals are women and that dictates what ends on the plates. So, the superstition goes, eating red meat and cheese before sundown increases the likelihood of a pregnancy.   Depending on the region, this superstation can be pregnancy, or it can be specific sorts of births or the death-sentence that is an ectopic pregnancy. But whether it’s true or not, most avoid before sundown anyway.  


Juices are becoming more common to pair with this eclectic mix of dishes, but if you are one for tradition, tea is the order of business. Its easy and lucrative cultivation has led it to be the most popular choice, but it isn’t the only choice these days.  


Just as they make the meal from yesterday’s leftovers, its leftovers are given other uses. Not that there are often leftovers if the cooks are good or portion correctly. But in the rare cases there are leftovers, there are many uses for them.   Unless you are of the neediest of society, saving egg or fish is considered unhygienic and desperate – the hobby of the desperate or the miserly. Of course, if only part of the fish has been used, to use the rest is fine. The issue most Nero has with reusing is reusing already prepared animal products. Fruit use depends on the person: some sacrifice it. They say bring good fortune from the spirits. Other use it for jams, juices and whatever they can think of. For sure, vegetable leftovers are used in large amounts; animal feed, compost, vegetable oil making.  

The Rituals Surrounding It


As old as time

No one knows when a pajaru meal became a thing; it’s just always been. Perhaps it’s even older than the spirits. Who knows? Why does it matter anyway? But as with many unknowns, there are always myths surrounding.  


The Pajaru meal is about community, no matter your definition. It is eaten and prepared with your brothers, your family, sometimes your whole neighbourhood on special occasions.   Simple tasks for the youngest (or least competent), like laying out the gosi bowls or the Pajaru Zisa, the rug on which the meal is eaten. Food preparation for those more likely to be trusted with that sort of thing. Those preparing meat or fish are often the most important in this “community”. Sometimes the first amongst equals, sometimes their superior. You can trust them with meat a lot more than the others.  

Why is it eaten that way?


In those weird bowls

To non-Nero, the idea of eating out of shared bowls on the floor is absurd. The closest to them would be the Otlera, but the sitting on the floor is where they draw the line. But why gosi? Instead of complaining about the cooking, you can use the bread to make your own meal, which is more polite.  

On the floor

It’s another case of who knows. Tradition just states you eat it on the floor and a lot of the neediest don’t have enough money for tables and chairs. More people can weave than carpenter. You’re not even sitting on the floor, at least in a Nero’s opinion–there’s a mat, a Pajaru Zisa, often bright, handmade, and passed down.   Though. there are many theories why. Some state that it means equality. We all deserve food. According to legend, Tise Pye, the founder of Hizi Pas, once beat Savo at cards while she was eating Pajaru.  

Eating Order

  People often look the Pajaru meal at as a battle. A good fight. You still get food even if you can’t fight very well, but not the food you really want or the most filling. Hence the eating order. Tradition dictates that the eldest, disabled, pregnant, and children get priority in getting what they need or want. If you disobey this hierarchy, all the aunties and diners will severely judge you. Judgement turns into bad-talk about you, then into rumours. And rumours are powerful things.  

The rise of Pajaru-Stands

To cater to the rising demand, out-of-wagon stands and alleyway shacks have appeared on the street corners and backsides of houses in cities. In recent years, with the rise of machines and industry, it has forced more people into cities and, with it, living alone has become vastly more common. Only criminals, orphans, and ‘dirty’ people lived alone before, but now much of the young and working required to work these machines live alone. Money for these men is tight and cannot be spent on the traditional Eruru to be married.   Pajaru is a communal meal, so it’s not recommended to prepare it for one person, as it can be cumbersome and lead to loneliness. So, emerge the Pajaru-stands with these roasted grains, fried vegetables, meats of all varies and whatever they can get their hands on. They mainly serve tea, bread and eggs – boiled or fried mainly – with sometimes kahasa and fried vegetables. That pleases most and business thrives, so prices are kept low.   However, eating from these Pajaru stands is considered a lowly, unhygienic act only done for necessity. They favour the nocturnal businessman if they wish to make the most profit, so it has become a front for Pani Puri’s criminal enterprises. Though most are just people trying to make their own daily bread.

Anolf’s Breakfast

Diary Entry by Anolf Oshtafan, scribed by his partner/‘beloved’, Rura Ero in order to be readable and to save paper   On our first morning here, my beloved partner friend insisted we have traditional breakfast, Pajaru, instead of my usual choice. We had a good mix of traditional foods – boiled eggs, kahasa, avocado, fried vegetables in tallow, fish too. I’m not too fond of meat in the mornings. It makes me quite ill, so I stuck to pastries and plants.   Too, we had tea. Not the tea we have back home, that is a misnomer according to my friend and in comparison, to that tea at home, I like it more. Bitter and gives a strange taste to the meal, but it is all right. He told me that when he was younger, his mother would make juice for them on special occasions. In future, I might recommend that again. Another thing I love about this sort of meal is getting to experience a good new food I need to learn to cook, in this case it is kahasa. My friend insisted he could make it for me, but I want to cook more myself. Kahasa is a type of dumpling from here, a national staple apparently, and I can see why. You can stuff it with most things. My beloved friend went for fried vegetables. I dipped it in some yogurt-y source with a unique punch to it. So much better than the equivalents we have in Ugane.   The only thing I wish is I could be more useful regarding making Pajaru meals. I eat like a horse, so I better give back. I tried to lay it out to make his life easier, but because of my slowly deteriorating eyesight (already bad to begin with), it ended up all wonky and he had to do it again. That’s the only problem I have with eating this way: it is difficult to fight for a gosi bowl of stuff when you can barely see the stuff. I can do it when it is just me and my all too patient friend. However, if there were more of us, I feel I wouldn’t get anything bar the bread! Also, if only I could dip chabr crisps into these dips. It would be heavenly. But my friend disagrees.   (in much smaller text, quickly written and in cursive) You are useful and loved, Olfa. And you do not eat like a horse, for the final time.


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Jul 22, 2023 16:18

I can see the fighting in front of my eyes. The best thing was the order one should fight over and that rumours are a powerful thing. There is truth to this. Beautifully executed.

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Jul 22, 2023 16:20 by Elizabeth Trkova

Thank you Eddie!

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Jul 22, 2023 20:54

You have described breakfast in my culture and that is funny to me. I particularly like the aspect of "no red meat" for women which ends up applying to everyone most often given the gals are the ones who usually prepare the meal.

Aug 16, 2023 14:16 by Elizabeth Trkova

Thank you, Mr Chimera!

I write a world called Kalan full of made up in my brain cultures, fashion and idiot main characters. Check it out if you wish
Jul 23, 2023 17:38 by George Sanders

This is one of my favorite articles you have written. You are bringing so many things into the creative process - quotes, journal entries, cultural experiences, and your narrator. Great way to think about the prompt too.

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Aug 2, 2023 13:26 by George Sanders

Lavani would like to add "A robust breakfast of equals and of community. Not all cultures put such an emphasis on breakfast and some are in such a hurry they miss the community aspect of a meal. Anolf is one of the best narrators in your world and I enjoyed seeing the edits and comments made by Rura."

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Aug 4, 2023 18:43 by Eric

I really like the discussion of social class woven into the article, not to mention the specifics about the ingredients and tableware (or floorware, it seems). Do you suppose workers could also go for milk or yogurt as their morning drink, or would this fall under the same taboo as cheese? (Or would these not be affordable/accessible for some reason?)

Aug 16, 2023 14:09 by Elizabeth Trkova

Oh I forgot to respond to this! Workers would definitely choose milk or yogurt. I was on a savoury foods kick at the time of writing and completely forgot about yogurt due to my own dietary preferences! However, for some, milk is seen as "unclean" due to the lack of pasteurisation available and is shied away from - kids tends to drink it a lot though, actually!

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Aug 16, 2023 19:37 by Eric

That's a tricky thing about cuisine in worldbuilding, isn't it? Difficult to come up with good recipes for something one doesn't regularly eat, though I like to think that can be a fun part of the challenge.

Aug 8, 2023 19:27 by Chris L

This is a lovely article and I like all the little details about your world that you've woven into your descriptions. I especially like the opening quote and closing vignette. I'm sorry that the "friends" have to hide their real relationship, but I can see the necessity in the judgemental society that you're describing in the rest of the article.

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Aug 16, 2023 14:14 by Elizabeth Trkova

Thank you, Chris, I appreciate the compliments! For me, the "little things" like breakfast spawn my big ideas a lot easier than writing about the "big things"! As for writing Anolf and Rura, it hurts to see them hide their relationship, but it is a blast to put myself in the shoes of someone like Anolf: a personality completely opposed to me for the most part. I hope to be able to explore them in future articles!

I write a world called Kalan full of made up in my brain cultures, fashion and idiot main characters. Check it out if you wish