Diana Wynne Jones’s classic send-up of fantasy novel food staples in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (see: gruel, why everyone is always eating it) gives you a good idea of what to stay away from, but food in speculative fiction novels is (or ought to be) a complex business. In this session, we’ll cover two real-world culinary systems in some depth (pre-Columbian cuisine of central Mexico and mid-20th century New York City) in order to understand some of the base logic of culinary systems: how they connect to climate, agriculture, politics, religion, and–of primary importance–warfare and imperialism. If your fantasy society grows potatoes, drinks beer, and eats chocolate, what does that imply about its people and their history of trade and conquest? This is meant to be a jumping-off point to a more nuanced way of thinking about worldbuilding. Thinking through what and how people eat is fundamental to understanding who they are.


This workshop is available to anyone aged 18 or older for a $55 fee.

Unless otherwise stated, all times listed are US Pacific Time.

We offer a limited number of scholarships for each class to Black and Indigenous writers and writers from other marginalized backgrounds on a first come, first served basis. Please email us at workshop@clarionwest.org with a one-paragraph statement about your scholarship interest and/or need. Please include the name of the class you would like to apply the scholarship to.

By participating in any Clarion West activity, you are agreeing to our Code of Conduct, the Clarion West Harassment Policy, and our Zoom Guidelines.

Clarion West will refund all class fees if the request is made 30 days prior to the class date. Refund requests made within 30 days of the class will be honored if we can fill the seat. Any exceptions are subject to approval by our workshop staff.