When I was world building for Woven, I hated coming up with money methods for my different countries. It just seemed like one of those nitpicky features that really weren’t going to come up much. Then I started writing my book, and realized how often I was using money. Food was a little more fun, because I’m a glutton and I like to talk about what sort of food other people are eating. A lot.
These two topics, of course, have absolutely everything to do with each other. That’s why I chose to group them together instead of giving each their own post. How rich a society is will dictate what sort of food is most common. I know that if I’ve got fifty bucks to get groceries for one week, and a hundred for the next, those two weeks are going to have vastly different menus. (Lots of hot dogs and peanut butter in week one. Maybe some fish and pork chops in week two. Either week, there will be potatoes, because potatoes are awesome and cheap.)
As for money, how people come about their money and what sort of money they have are both things you’ll want to consider. Personally, I went with a really simple method, different shaped coins of precious medals. In my main country, called Septa, I called the coins Octs, after Octavian the first, their first king. In another country people trade coins with numerical symbols that are mealy representative of the gold that the government keeps locked up (Like I used to think we did in America.) A third country uses only bartering, except for traders, who trade in other countries coins. I tried to keep it simple, and to alleviate my own irritation, had one of my main characters constantly messing the coins up and giving people too much and too little money.
Both money and food are going to be largely dictated by four main parts of your society.
Obliviously climate and weather are going to have a ton to do with the food your people eat. If they’re near the ocean, fish is their meatloaf. If they’ve got nothing but farmland, there’s going to be a rich diet of vegetables. If it’s cold, stews and canned things will be a staple. If it’s warm, people are pretty big on salads. You get the picture.
When it comes to money, consider what sort of minerals and stones might be mined in your areas. Now, I was more interested in telling the story of a boy who weaves than making up new metals, so I stuck with real ones like gold, copper, silver. You don’t have to do that. Maybe there’s some great metal that these people use for their money, and it’s extra heavy, or knows who its real owner is. Make it fun. Or, you can make it realistic. I know that gold and copper can be mined in Europe and Russia, the two main countries that my world is based on. So, I stuck with that.
Type of People.
What sort of person you are will make a difference in the food you put in your mouth. In fact, it will likely be the biggest indicator of what sort of food your people eat.
* Is there a prevalent faith that makes certain food taboo, like Hindu or Judaism?
* Do people drink alcohol?
* Do they have the extra income and resources to have sweets?
* How much time to they have to make food each day? Is there a mother or father home to bake bread and stew? Or is it more a matter of convenience?
* Are there restaurants, and bakeries?
We’ll ask similar questions about money.
* Does the prevalent faith have rules about giving tithing, or donating to the poor?
* Are people well off enough to indulge in sweets and booze?
* Do people invest in things like art, education or land?
And here’s the real big one. What can a person own in this world that would make them be seen as wealthy?
Relations with other people.
No world exists alone, much as China and North Korea would like to think they can. Your world will likely have multiple countries, unless there’s a reason why.
Now, food is something that is defined by its source. French wine, German sausage, Swiss chocolate, British tea. Then there’s food that you just know where it comes from. Sushi, haluski, lasagna, haggis. You know what country that food comes from. If you’ve got a neighboring country that has a distinctive dish, and it shows up in your country, you can assume they are now or have been friendly.
Money’s the same way. If you can change money from a country in a bank in your country, they were probably on good terms. If someone from your country pulls out a coin and someone from another country has never seen one like it before, they probably aren’t.
In my hometown, people get together in homes and bars over sports. We drink beer, and eat hot wings. Some people like to gather over wine, some like to collect at coffee shops. Food and drink is a big part of social gatherings.
And what kind of social gathering someone goes to will often depend on what kind of money they have. Rich people gather over good wine and fine cheese with artisan bread. People in my financial bracket meet over beer and pretzels.
What it comes down to is this; show, don’t tell. Do not tell us that your country is wealthy, in a cold district that mines gold. Show me your character ordering a fine buttered rum with a gold coin.