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Welcome to Night Vale, episode 54: A Carnival Comes to Town (via the-librarians-of-night-vale)
“LOOKS LIKE MEAT’S BACK ON THE MENU, BOYS" bellows the Orc to his Orc friends. Orcs know what menus are. Orcs know what restaurants are. are there bistros in Mordor? these are the questions i need answering
You are not the first to ask this! In fact, the first person to ask about restaurants in Mordor was Frodo Baggins himself (whose birthday it is today). The line is in book VI, Chapter One: “the Tower of Cirith Ungol”
'I can't go all the way at a run, Sam,' said Frodo with a wry smile. 'I hope you've made inquiries about inns along the road. Or have your forgotten about food and drink?'
Since they then scavenge for food amongst the dead orcs, I think it is safe to assume there is a certain lack of confidence in the gastronomic opportunities ahead of them.
This makes sense. Mordor is based on a slave economy. Food is grown in the south east, around the sea of Nurnen, but there is no evidence of any kind of money. It does not seem likely that Orcs (or mannish slaves) get paid. When Sauron demands tribute, it is in resources (the horses of the Rohirrim for instance), not wealth, although the Orcs do express some interest in Frodo’s mithril coat. Orcs do require food and drink, and seem to have preferences about what kind they get (and even a cannibalism taboo, which is interesting in and of itself). My guess though is that they are fed by some sort of commissary system, with very little choice involved. So yeah, no bistros in Mordor. And probably no bistros in Isengard either, although Saruman does seem to actually use currency - he buys pipe weed from the Shire after all. But his Orcs don’t seem to.
On the other hand, Minas Tirith, although a fortress city, does have an economy. It has shops and things. Pippin is fed from communal butteries as a military officer, but it is reasonable to assume that there are also restaurants with menus and things, even if they are abandoned with most of the civilian citizenry having been sent away. Minas Tirith is a fortress in war time, and thus it’s hard to get a good cross-section of normal life.
But Osgiliath, on the other hand, was a city - the chief city of Gondor, before it fell to orcish raids. It is likely, perhaps even inevitable, that Osgiliath had restaurants, inns, pubs, perhaps even bistros, and that these establishments had menus. The Orcs sacked Osgiliath and took up residence in the Eastern half of it. And because they do need to eat, they likely encountered these dining locales, and, yes, the menus within them. It is not inconceivable that they could have carried that knowledge as a running joke, even into battle.
…on the other hand, it’s a stupid line and there’s a good reason it wasn’t in the book.