Loosen That Belt and Feast Like a King!
It is that time of year again: the leaves are dancing red, the air is crisp and cool, and the food—oh, the food is absolutely irresistible! Every autumn, the Meridell farms are bustling with hard working Neopians harvesting ripe fruits, vegetables, and grains to bring to your dinner table. The markets are teeming with fresh produce of every shape, size, and colour. There are so many choices that sometimes, grocery shopping seems a little too overwhelming! This guide will help you decide what to buy and how to prepare it to meet your budget and your demands. Now, ready to dine like King Skarl? ;)
With a successful grain harvest in procession, fresh bread is very affordable in Meridell this year. If you have some extra dough to your name (haha, get it?), the bread wreath is a delicious and visually appealing bread to serve during formal dinner parties. What more can I say? It's a loaf of bread shaped like a wreath. Well, I can also add that one loaf will set you back by 1,000,000-2,000,000 NP, but you can just ignore that part.
Living like a king, however, doesn't have to cost your life savings plus an arm or two. In fact, you can enjoy a loaf of royal cheese bread for a fraction of the price (28,000 NP). The secret to the extra cheesy flavour is its thrice-baked baking process. Crafty, huh? Twisted bread is another great option for the thrifty Meridellians. It tastes just like normal bread but the twists make it look much fancier than its mere 1300 NP price suggests!
Ahhh yes, the delicacy from one of Meridell's favourite pastimes: guessing the weight of the marrow. If you're feeling lucky, take a trip to the Meri Acres Farm and try winning one of your own. A 1 in 600 chance isn't that bad, is it?
Marrow is absolutely delicious. You can purchase a comparatively large one at the market for 20,000 NP. The price may seem a little steep, but it is well worth every Neopoint! Marrow can be served in a variety of ways: slice this fruit and drizzle milk chocolate over it for a finger-licking-good snack or bake it into a warm pie for a healthy and delicious dessert. Tired of plain ol' banana bread? Mash up a marrow and knead it into your bread for a unique taste. Marrow bread is most delicious when eaten straight out of the oven with melted butter.
Cheese production is one of Meridell's largest industries. The sheer number of flavours in existence can make a certain mathematically-challenged Aisha's head spin! There is a cheese for everyone: quadruple fudge cheese for the sweet tooth, spicy juppie cheese for the piquant Neopian, bubbling snot cheese for the practical joker, meaty cheese for the meat-lover, and even heavy bark cheese for your deaver petpet (you know, because their teeth are perpetually growing and all)! Okay, now some of these flavours are probably scaring you away, but don't worry, there are plenty of normal cheeses for the average folks! Soft white cheese, known for its white creamy centre, can be served as a side dish to almost any meal. In addition, the local farmers claim that alkenore cheese is just normal cheese shaped like an alkenore, not made of an actual alkenore, but I'll let you decide whether you believe them or not yourself...
Corn on the Cob
Freshly roasted corn smothered with butter, mmmmm! Be careful before you take a bite though—these babies are hot! You can find vendors selling corn on the cob everywhere in Meridell during this time of year. They make a savoury snack for Neopians out on field trips or outdoor adventures. For just 1,700 NP, you don't have to worry about breaking the bank when buying this Meridellian treat. The greatest thing about corn on the cob is that Neopets of all ages love it! I mean, who wouldn't love something that is delicious, easy to eat, and leaves your tummy feeling warm and toasty on a chilly autumn afternoon?
Ahhh gravy. If there is one thing in Neopia that is tastier than gravy, it is Meridell gravy. This gravy is positively magical; it can turn a disastrous meal into a feast. Is your broccoli burnt? Cover it with gravy. Is your overcooked turkey too dry? Cover it with gravy. Is your Neopet complaining? Cover it with gravy. The bottom line is that Meridell gravy adds flavour, texture, and moisture to any dish. I don't even know why anyone would sell this delicacy for anything less than five whole Draik eggs, but apparently you can get an ounce of Meridell gravy for just 5 NP. Isn't that ridiculous? Well, don't complain and start shopping!
This vegetable is incredibly versatile and very affordable at just 800 NP a piece! The crunchiness of the asparacone is a refreshing change from the general blandness of the typical supermarket vegetables. You can eat it straight up as a snack or in a light salad with blue cheese dressing. You can place it in your vegetable bowl with your carrots and broccoli—asparacone covered in creamy dip is a favourite among young Neopets. If you love Shenkuun food, throw some asparacones in your stirfry and you'll get a great hot dish with lots of texture. Yum!
And last but never the least, berries! The best thing about autumn is that all the berries are ripe with sweet juices. Look out your window and I'm sure you'll see at least one berry bush dotted with brightly coloured fruit. Berries are so plentiful during this time of year that the average Neopian can indulge in basketfuls without even making a dent in his pocket! Why not take advantage of the amazing prices and get some much needed vitamins and antioxidants into your body? You can either pick up a Basket of Berries up at the market for 7000 NP or pick your own at the Meri Acres Farm for 400 NP per six berries. There are so many ways to eat fruit—I promise, you will never get bored.
Throw a handful of dried jumbleberries (50 NP a piece) into your cereal for a healthy breakfast, or dot your ice cream sundae with a fresh loveberry (35 NP a piece) to share with a best friend, a sibling, or another loved one. The fishberry (10 NP a piece) is a delicious addition to any seafood platter. Thirsty? Pack a couple dozen aquaberries before you head out for the day; they will not only quench your thirst but also suppress that grumbling belly.
Foods to avoid:
Now let's be honest, not every item sold in the market is good food. In fact, it is just as important to know which foods to avoid as it is to familiarise yourself with Meridell's specialties.
Some merchants may try to get away with selling you blackened bananas. Do not be fooled! A banana may appear to be ripe and golden, but in reality, someone has painted over its rotten peel with a coat of yellow paint. Gently squeeze the banana to test its ripeness: if it squishes in your hand, it means it's probably a blackened banana and you shouldn't buy it.
The pootato is another produce that you want to stay as far away from as possible! Its main ingredient is as its name suggests, I don't think I need to go into any farther detail about this food. If you pick up a brown lumpy thing under the pretence that it is just a regular potato and it smells a little... strange, then chances are, you are holding a pootato in all its horrific glory. Put it back immediately and wash your hands with clean water. You don't want to get the grumbles, do you?
And there we have it...
Oh, Meridell—that rustic land of heroes and legends! Travellers, civilians, and any other Neopians who have stumbled upon this age-old world cannot possibly depart without feasting on the abundance of its earth. From cheese to gravy to berries, the pursuit of happiness in Meridell begins with food. So bon appétit!