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Half Wheel, Quart, Small Wheel, Rectangle shapes of Zhongya - Painted by Theodus Kirion
|Source of milk||Senadonian Tkha|
|Aging time||min. 8 months|
Zhongya (ჟონგია, Zhongia) is a traditionally Senadonian brined curd cheese made from the milk of a Senadonian Tkha. Typically ripened for a period of 8 months, Zhongya cheese is typically produced in a white grainy block, which is then crumbled. Zhongya is typically used to top off the Senadonian Salad, but is also used as a regional topping for salads. Zhongya itself is also served with the Imedian Whiteberry, typically the Imedian Highlander Snowberry to balance the saltiness/sourness of Zhongya or to enhance the sweetness of the Imedian Whiteberry.
Zhongya itself has many variations across Imedio, however each one goes by a different name with Zhongya affixed at the end. The majority of Zhongya cheese variations are made using the same recipe with tweaks to certain instructions or to the base of the milk, which is usually a difference in the regional Tkha. Traditional Zhongya is referred to as Dzveli Zhongya, which infers the original base of a Senadonian Tkha with the original recipe of blending and creation. Today Zhongya is identified as apart of Akannus cuisine, meaning within races of the Akannites, Zhongya is universally shared in cuisine.
Zhongya originated during the Pre-Constructionist Era earlier than the Seiranian Sabaphos, making it one of the oldest cheese made by the Akannites. The practice of making Zhongya originated in Senadon, which helped to establish Senadon as a center of food production and later as a market village. The recipe of Zhongya made its way out of Senadon through means of families. Families typically dedicated generations to producing Zhongya as a living, leading to new prosepects to be spread out through the planet of Imedio. By the time of the Second Abiatharic Era, Zhongya had become a planet-wide staple using different regional variations of the Tkha.
Today, the majority of Zhongya is produced within the cities of Senadon and Serenope, making up at least 47% of all Zhongya produced within the Akannite Confederationin those two cities. Other important cities that produce Zhongya include Asatiani, Astillia, Ochamchire and Ambrolauri. All of these different Zhongya production cities typically have different regional variations that differentiate in appearance, texture, feel and taste. All Zhongya regional variations however, follow a basic process that includes the brining and aging process that is then inspected and marked.
Zhongya's inspection and marking is charged with the Zhongya Inspection Committee, which is a committee of representative with approved companies manufacturing Zhongya that establish the basics and rules around producing and marketing Zhongya. As such, barrels must meet a classification on regional variation and compliance with standards according to established rules. The process however, changes between regions considering the mixture of the initial milks with Tkhas and Tskhvaris as well as the total mixture during coagulation where other ingredients may be introduced.
Zhongya is used mainly as a table cheese, where it is eaten typically in a sliced or crumbled form. However, Zhongya within several other regions is considered to be a cooking cheese, where it is used in recipes. More traditionalist places where Zhongya originated use it as a table cheese, while places who adopted Zhongya into their cuisine use Zhongya as a cooking cheese. Zhongya itself has a quite salty taste and is crumbly in its original form. Regional variations will differ on tastes and texture.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Production & processing
- 3 Reviewing
- 4 Description
- 5 History
- 6 Production by region
- 7 In culture
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See Also
- 10 References
The name Zhongya has had its origins lost. It is suggested that it is a constructed word that originates from Constructionist Era. Zhong (ჟონგ) came to represent milk that originated from a Tkha, while ya (ია) came to represent the product of that milk. Zhongya itself as a word is archiac and only used to refer to the cheese, as both Zhong and Ya as individual words were eliminated from vocabulary, as they were never fully used within Akannite vocabulary.
Zhongya is typically represented with , a ligature that uses Asomtavruli, an ancient form of writing Akannite. The character Ⴃ with a Ⴀ superimposed on the empty area, it spells out და in modern script. Pronounced "da", the ligature has come to represent manufacturers that produce Zhongya. Its original meaning is understood to be "and", but has shifted to be a representation of Zhongya. An edited version of the ligature with the Ⴀ removed and the symbol of Maradisoba replacing it within the Ⴃ is the current logo of the Zhongyan Inspection Committee.
Production & processing
Zhongya is made using a base of whole Tkha milk, traditionally using Tkha milk sourced from the Senadonian Tkha. The milk is not pasturized to retain its original culture and keep the salty, acidic flavor. The Zhongya, at this point a curd, is then drained of whey using a specially created cloth bag specifically made to drain whey using rennet. The curd is placed in small containers to create small individual wheels of Zhongya. Before the aging process begins, the cheese itself is salted until a 5% salinity is achieved. Afterwards, the curd is left to infuse with the salt for several days. After infusion, the cheese is then placed within a wooden barrel or a metal container, typically stacked on top of each other and separated by thin sheets of wood. The cheese is then brined with a 6% salinity in water solution that is introduced into the barrel. The container is kept at specifically around 80°F and needs to maintain this temperature. The use of a wooden barrel is preferable as it imparts a unique aging flavor, and remains uncontaminated with any metallic ions that could be introduced into the cheese.
Zhongya at minimum must be aged for eight months, but can be aged for longer. The Zhongya barrel must then be inspected for possible infections or descripencies in the production process. All Zhongya barrels are inspected by the Zhongya Inspection Committee and afterwards given a proper seal of recognition along with standard and prefix. As it is recognized as a UTS, regional variations are allowed by all must meet the minimum standards of its recipe, production and result. Barrels are marked with proper stamping indicating its region, the regional production method, its original production date and a UTS standard marking. Zhongya that is prepared in a metallic container is marked as such that it was produced in that method, and is typically transferred to a wooden container.
Zhongya is typically imported as opposed to produced in the planets of Lesath, Calagains, Sinindroli, Iridesa, Nagrium and Serenope Regulus. Production on these planets is allowed, but never happens unless the planet can host the Senadonian Tkha. To date, Iridesa, Nagrium, Serenope Regulus and Calagains are able to host the Senadonian Tkha. On the planet of Iridesa, following the original recipe, Zhongya is produced without any other notable regional variations. Numerous rare and undocumented regional variants within Imedio and Iridesa exist that remain mostly undocumented.
Each political entity has different food standards that are apart of the Akannite Confederation. No law from the three systems exists preventing off-brand Zhongya from being sold. However, wholesalers and merchandisers typically do not buy Zhongya that is not certified by the Zhongya Inspection Committee. The Zhongya Inspection Committee has a minimum standard that must be made by manufacturers and artisans in order to be classified as "Zhongya", which includes:
- A base of Tkha Milk that must make up more than 50% of pre-brining mix.
- Introduction of different ingredients to create a regional variation must contain a majority of Tkha milk.
- Brined with a solution of water with a measured 5% salinity.
- Aged for a period of at least 8 months, recieveing the qualification of Fresh Zhongya
The listed main ingredients introduced before or during the curding process are listed on the barrel, including the regional variation of the Tkha sourced from. Dzveli Zhongya will be listed as 100% Senadonian Tkha on its barrel, while Serenop'iuli Zhongya will be listed as 90% Senadonian Tkha and 10% Imedian Serenopian Whiteberry. This is then typically reflected on the packaging of Zhongya.
There is also a limited list that is updated by the Zhongya Inspection Committee that lists specific ingredients that can be listed, that is dependent on different varations and the ingredients pre-curdling. The use of certain ingredients will term it under a regional variant, even if it was not produced within the region. This is very rare though, and typically discouraged without prior approval from the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
The Zhongya Inspection Committee in 427 introduced the prefixation system that became attached to the standard system as apart of the regulations process. As a result, the prefix is listed on the barrel. Typically, as a marketing strategy, the prefix and the ingredient precentage pre-curdling is put on the packaging to show its authenticity of Zhongya. It is required by the Zhongya Inspection Committee to place the prefix on the barrel to keep track on specific regional variations.
Currently the lastest prefix list issued by the Zhongya Inspection Committee is as follows:
|Akhali - Akh.
|8 months||Creamy, typically fresh out of the barrel Zhongya cheese. The cheapest classfication, it can be used as a hard spread or as soft sticky crumbles. Sold as a small solid block, cubes, rectangular slices, curmbled, or in the marked barrel.|
|Akt’iuri - Akt.
|9 months||Creamy, smooth Zhongya cheese. The most often sold classification, Zhongya begins to become more solid and crumbly. Sold as a small solid block, cubes, retangular slices, crumbled, or in the marked barrel.|
|Akt’iuri Sarezervo - AkS.
|10 months||Creamy, smooth Zhongya cheese. Sold typically as a small solid block, as cubes, curmbled, or in the marked barrel.|
|Sarezervo - Sar.
|11 months||Creamy, firm Zhongya cheese. At this point, Zhongya begins to get a strong sour taste while its texture becomes more firm. Typically sold as a small solid block, cubes, curmbled, or in the marked barrel.|
|Khelosani Sarezervo - KhS. or Khe.
|12 months||Creamy, firm Zhongya cheese. Khelosani Sarezervo begins to impart a tangy taste, and is more firmer. Only sold as a small solid block, curmbled, or in the marked barrel.|
|Serenop’iuli Sarezervo - SeS.
|16 months||Creamy, firm Zhongya cheese, made specifically from Tkha sourced from the area around Serenope. Only sold as a medium sized solid block, rectangular, or in the marked barrel.|
|Ast’iliuri Sarezervo - AsA. or Ast.
|16.5 months||Creamy, firm Zhongya cheese, made specfically from Tkha sourced from the area around Astillia. Typically more yellowed colored, only sold as a medium sized solid block, curmbled, or in the marked barrel.|
|Senadonuri Sarezervo - SeS. or Sen.
|18 months||Firm Zhongya cheese, made specifically in Senadon with traditional Senadonian Tkha. Produced only in licensed Senadonian cheese houses, only sold as a large solid or in the marked barrel.|
|Asatiani Tetri - AsT. or Asa
|20 months||Firm Zhongya cheese, made specifically from Tkha sourced from the area around Asatiani and K'anama. Only sold as a large solid block or in the marked barrel.|
|Senadonuri Khelosani Sarezervo - SKS. or SKh.
სენადონური ხელოსანი სარეზერვო
Senadonian Artisan Reserve
|24 months||Form Zhongya cheese, made specifically in Senadon with traditional Senadonian Tkha. Produced only by licensed families passed down to current generation, only sold in a barrel.|
The inspection process is carried out by the Zhongya Inspection Committee. Initially, paperwork will be prepared from the manufacturer so that the Inspection Committee only needs to confirm the reported ingredients, age, brining and taste. Typically, the specific percent of water salinity prepared is only tested every month from every manufacturer, as the brine is typically not prepared fresh. This is meant to prevent off-flavours from contaminating the taste of Zhongya.
A small knife is prepared and then swipes into the leftmost part of a wheel. The way the cheese breaks off will be a determining factor as it will give inspectors a preview of the texture of the cheese. A closer examination at the cheese is made to determine its color under a white light and its composition. The cheese is then given a taste test to determine the taste as well as its age. This inspection will determine whether or not the barrel itself will be labelled with the proper identification and prefixation. The identification step is only utilized as a means of checking from new or untrustworthy manufacturers that cannot confirm the reported ingredients on paperwork. Every barrel is then given an identification number, and then the prefix's acronym as listed.
The inspection is preformed by three different people: a Zhongya cheese master, a Zhongya Inspection Committee representative, and a Zhongya Marketing representative. Typically the cheese master will preform the full inspection, with the swipe of Zhongya and determining its features. The Zhongya Inspection Committee examines and documents all paperwork, and gives the final marking after consulting with the cheese master. The Zhongya marketing representative typically will give every barrel a price based on the paperwork provided as well as the features and quality of the Zhongya barrel overall.
Inspection is considered complete once the final price of the barrel is determined from the Zhongya Marketing representative. The barrel is given a unique number by the Zhongya Inspection Committee representative. All paperwork included is given to the Zhongya Inspection Committee, and is afterwards entered into a system that exists until it is reported sold to either wholesalers or private estates.
Dzveli Zhongya (ძველი ჟონგია, Dzveli Zhongia) is the most produced type of Zhonga. Simply referred to as Zhongya, it is a white brined cheese. Zhongya lacks a skin or crust, with a creamy texture with a firm and smooth touch. Its taste is usually described as a mild saltiness with the same creamy and smooth texture. Zhongya does not melt easily due to the brining and is aged for 8 months. Lower quality or less aged Zhongya is typically creamier, with a lack of graininess. Sometimes it is packaged specifically as a cream, where High quality Zhongya is aged for longer, typically for a period of 10-12 months, imparting a significantly more sour taste.
Dzveli Zhongya is seen as a base of Zhongya and for its pricing, as such it typically priced dependent on its age. Fresh, Active, Active Reserve, Reserve and Artisan Reserve are all sold at cheaper prices compared to regional prefixed Zhongya.
Senadonuri Zhongya (სენადონური ჟონგია, Senadonuri Zhongia) is Zhongya that is produced within the area around Senadon. Senadonuri Zhongya is typically marked and sold as Dzveli Zhongya, and only exists to clarify regional difference between Zhongyas. Senadonuri Zhongya exists as a base for further regional differences within Senadon which sometimes produce Zhongya differently.
Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya
Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya (ჩრდილოეთ სენადონური ჟონგია, Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya) is Zhongya that is a variant of Senadonuri Zhongya that consists of a mixture of Tkha milk and the Senadonian Tskhvari, found in the north of Senadon. The addition of the Senadonian Tskhvari gives off a lightly yellow tinge to the coloring of the Zhongya. Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya is brined for a period of nine months, and afterwards sold by the barrelful. This type of Zhongya is considered to be rare by the Zhongya Inspection Committee, and is not sold anywhere except local markets and directly to families within Senadon. As such, it is typically never requested to be approved by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya is considered to be both a table cheese and a cooking cheese, and is typically utilized in cooking. With a much dryer texture but with a buttery-salty flavor, Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya is used in several different recipes, most notably the Chrdiloet Tapli. Since it is rare and only sold in local markets, Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya is not inspected by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Samkhret Senadonuri Zhongya
Samkhret Senadonuri Zhongya (სამხრეთ სენადონური ჟონგია, Samkhret Senadoniuri Zhongia) is Zhongya that is a variant of Senadonuri Zhongya that is identical to Dzveli Zhongya. Using Tkha milk as its base, it is brined and cold smoked using chips from the Mukha for a month after the end of its brining period. Found in the south of Senadon, it is given a slightly browned, baked pellicle to the coloring of the Zhongya. Brined for a period of eight months, it is sold by either a wheel, a quart or a square. Like Chrdiloet Senadonuri Zhongya, this type of Zhongya is considered to be rare, and is not sold anywhere except to local markets and directly to families within Senadon. As such, it is typically never requested to be approved by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Samkhret Senadonuri Zhongya is considered a purely table cheese and is not utilized in cooking. Given a mix of a dry exterior but a smoothened interior, it loses a lot of its acidic flavor leaving a mostly salty, smooth taste. Samkhret Senadonuri Zhongya is typically dressed with abreshumi and tarashen.
Serenop’iuli Zhongya (სერენოპიული ჟონგია, Serenop'iuli Zhongia) is Zhongya that is produced within the area around Serenope. Otherwise referred to as Serenopian Zhongya, it is much different as it is prepared slightly different from Dzveli Zhongya that imparts a completely different texture. Serenop'iuli Zhongya uses milk that is made from Serenopian Tkha, which is then flavored squeezed juices from the Imedian Serenopian Whiteberry which is added during the curding process. It is then brined, aged and marked. The addition of the Imedian Serenopian Whiteberry detracts the saltiness of a Zhongya cheese with slightly sweet aftertaste which creates a much more complex taste to the cheese. Serenopian Zhongya is semi-hard and unlike other Zhongya variants, lack holes.
Typically aged long, it is aged for 16 months. It is cut into retangular pieces when prepared, and can be fried. Its texture is typically more elastic and sticky than typical Dzveli Zhongya and can be smeared easily. It is the lowest priced of the regional variants of Zhongya but is higher than non-regional variants of Zhongya due to its age. It is much more readily available than Ast’iliuri Zhongya. Within the markets and the Zhongya aging system, cheese that is produced and aged in the stated requirements, being sourced from Serenope and aged for 16 months, they are apart of the Serenopian Reserve.
Serenope as a city is tied in its history with Senadon, and as such shares different, more rare regional variations. The most notable rare regional variations are Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya and Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya
Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya
Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya (სერენოპიული მთის ჟონგია, Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongia) is a variant of Serenop'iuli Zhongya that consists of a mixture of Tkha milk and crushed juices from the Imedian Cloudberry. Found more towards the mountainous areas, where the Imedian Cloudberry is used frequently over either the Imedian Highlander Snowberry or the Imedian Serenopian Whiteberry. The Cloudberry is crushed using a Serenopian berrypress, which occurs after pitting the Imedian Cloudberry. As a result of the change from use of Imedian Serenopian Whiteberries to the Imedian Cloudberry, Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya is colored a more purer white that lacks any yellow color. The result is a much more noticable complexity to the cheese, and has a stronger sweet aftertaste. Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya is typically sold by the wheel or quart, as opposed to the barrelful. This type of Zhongya is considered to be rare by the Zhongya Inspection Committee, and is not sold anywhere except local markets and directly to families within Serenope. As such, it is typically never requested to be approved by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya is considered to be a table cheese, being utilized as a topping to salads. Frequently Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya will be marinated in Abreshumi oil, giving a much more water and silky texture. It is also typically paired with either Samegrelian oil or Mingrelian oil. Since it is rare and only sold in local markets, Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya is not inspected by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya
Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya (სერენოპიული თოვლი ჟონგია, Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongia) is a variant of Serenop'iuli Zhongya that consists of a mixture of Tkha milk and crushed juices from the Imedian Highlander Snowberry. Found in urban area and a staple of the urban cuisine within Serenope, the Imedian Highlander Snowberry is typically seen as an artisan berry that is expensive to buy. Not prioritized in the mountainous regions due to its size, the Imedian Highlander Snowberry is imported from Senadon. The Imedian Highlander Snowberry is first cleaned, then soaked in the extract of a sour Hesperidium, typically Nosiri. It sits for 2 hours before it gains a Highlander's Bandolier, a orange stripe that appears on the Highlander Snowberry. They are then inserted into the curd of the Zhongya before it is molded into wheels. This gives the interior texture to have chunks of the Highlander Snowberry inside the Zhongya. The mix of the chunks of the Highlander Snowberry along with the strong but small Highlander's Bandolier, it gives the Zhongya a very complex taste of sourness and sweetness with the typical saltiness taste being more muted in favor of the pronounced complex taste. The texture is also mixed as the chunks are much more wet than the cheese itself. Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya is typically sold by the wheel or quart, as opposed to the barrelful. This type of Zhongya is considered to be rare by the Zhongya Inspection Committee, and is not sold anywhere except local markets and directly to families within Serenope. As such, it is typically never requested to be approved by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya is considered a table cheese, being utilized as a topping to salads and foods. It is typically used in artisan boards that contain prepared meats, sliced fruits and Serenop'iuli Zhongya. Crackers and Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya are also a typical sidemeal at events. Serenop'iuli Tovli Zhongya is still identified as an artisan cheese and as such commands high prces. Since it is rare and only sold in local markets, Serenop'iuli Mtis Zhongya is not inspected by the Zhongya Inspection Committee.
Ast’iliuri Zhongya (ასტილიური ჟონგია, Ast'iliuri Zhongia) is Zhongya that is produced within the area around Astillia. Otherwise referred to as Astillian Zhongya, it is yellow as opposed to white since it is sourced from both the Astillian Tkha and the Melchedze Tskhvari, with the Tskhvari giving off a yellow tinge. Ast’iliuri Zhongya also lacks a skin or crust, but have a much more dryer texture due to the addition of milk from the Tskvari. Aged within a barrel to give a richer taste and smoothen the typically dryer texture, the combination will give the Ast'iliuri Zhongya a more buttery flavor on top of the salty taste.
When served, Ast’iliuri Zhongya is typically served alongside additives that hide the dryer texture, such as herbs or oils. Typically Ast’iliuri Zhongya is priced higher than non-regional variants of Dzveli Zhongya, and is priced equal to that of Serenopian Reserve. Ast’iliuri Zhongya is aged for a period of 16 and a half months to garner a salty taste. Within the markets and the Zhongya aging system, cheese that is produced and aged in the stated requirements, being sourced from Astillia and aged for 16.5 months, they are apart of the Astillian Reserve.
Asatiani Tetri Zhongya
Asatiani Tetri Zhongya (ასათიანი თეთრი ჟონგია, Asatiani Tetri Zhongia) is Zhongya that is produced within the area around Asatiani. Otherwise referred to as Asatianian Zhongya or simply Tetri Zhongya, it is ripened with cream alongisde Tkha milk. Much more sour than typical Zhongya, it retains the same texture and feel, with much more distinguishable eyes. Easily smearable, it is has a much more pronounced taste stemming from the milk-cream mixture that comes off as sour. The salty taste is less pronounced.
When served, Asatiani Tetri Zhongya is typically used a topping and as a table cheese. It is sometimes smeared on bread as apart of Asatianian cuisine, but is more often used in salads in combination with Tapli and herbs. Within the markets and the Zhongya aging system, cheese that is produced and aged in the stated requirements, being sourced from Asatiani and aged for 20 months, they are apart of the Asatiani Product, known on Lesath and Serenope Regulus as Asatiani White.
The indigenous Akannus that lived within the area around Senadon was the first group that produced Zhongya, termed Senadonian Zhongya. It is stated that several different villages, including K'anama and Serenope, as well as several other non-existent villages were all able to create Zhongya on their own. The first written account came from the Apakidzeans, a family of rulers of Senadon before the Battle of K'anama. According to the account written by the Apakidzeans, Zhongya was seen as an artisan field, and as such it was a field that artisan families entrenched themselves in. An authenticated account that originates from the Lortanians, a family of nobles, has come to describe the beginning of Zhongya consumption within Senadon. No sources, oral or written, exist that verify the origin of Zhongya production. The Potskho, a family of nobles who presided within Serenope, describe the saltiness yet creamy texture of Zhongya.
The Apakidzeans, Lortanians, and Potskho all limited the consumption of Zhongya as an item of nobility when refined, but this was, according to the Seiranians, not effective. Typically used as a celebration of the introduction of the fall season, Zhongya is consumed regularly to celebrate. The Seiranians and their followers, promoted the consumption of Zhongya. Typically a staple of early Senadonian cuisine, it later spread to other areas, including Serenope.
After the defeat of the Apakidzean Tri-Sabaphos along with the Lortanian and Potshko noble families, the expansion of Zhongya increased exponentially under the Seiranians as a staple of Akanovan cuisine. During this time, Seiran Mihrdat continued on expanding the production of Zhongya, including the integration of Akanovan Females into the process of making Zhongya. Typically seen as a male's task, the Seiranian Sabaphos period changed for male and females within a Zhongya production as a tradition to allow both sexes to partake.
After the death of Seiran Mihrdat and the ascension of Solomon the Wise and the Seven Akannite Sages, the Seiranian Sabaphos changed into the Order of K'vari. During Solomon's reign as the first of the Akannite Sages, he had tied in Zhongya within the Solomonite Accounts to the prospect of devotion with the Account of the Hundred Holy Akannus and the Account of Apakidzean Purity. Specifically, in the Account of Apakidzean Purity, the unnamed son and heir of the Apakidzean noble family made a sacrifice to return to purity that consisted of seventeen barrels of Zhongya. Remarking in the book of Benestil that the sacrifice of "copious amount of Zhongya or Sombuizi" was appropriate in returning to purity. The exact amount of barrels is not fully understood but is estimated to be about half of what the male heir of the Apakidzean sacrifices, eight and a half barrels of Zhongya or eight and a half wheels of Sombuizi.
During the reign of Circe the Righteous, after the end of the Akannite Noble War, they had reportedly granted every family within the countryside with a barrel of Zhongya and a wheel of Sombuizi. Recorded in the Account of Circe and the People during the Circean Accounts, she used the coffers of the extinguished noble families to provide barrels of Zhongya directly from cheesemakers to families.
After the end of the Seven Akannite Sages and the entrance into the Akannite Golden Era, specific buildinf=gs were established called Sasadilo Darbazi, referred to as Food Halls. Food Halls were dedicated to communal banquets where different prepared foods, cheese and curated fruits were present. Large Food Halls were established in the cities of Senadon, Serenope, K'anama, Astillia, Asatiani, Ochamchire, Khidirbegish, Diasamidze and Ambrolauri.
First Molchanic Era
During the First Molchanic Era, the First Molchanic Sabaphos was faced with the Molchanic outbreak of the Ochamchiran Plague, which was transmitted through infected meat. The Large Food Halls had started losing popularity within certain cities, however the emergence of the Ochamchiran Plague that crossed through meat made the food halls mortibund in some cities. While a concern for the cities of Ochamchire, Khidirbegish, Diasamidze, the plague was not prominent for the other large food halls.
Along with this came the development of the P’omidori-Zhongya Soup, which was a soup that used grinded P'omidori, extracted Abreshumi Oil, Melwood Tapli and Zhongya. Originating in Ambrolauri, the development of this soup began shifting the perspective of Zhongya as a strictly table salad and integrated it with cooking. During the Plague, the development of this soup was a consequence as families were needed to stay at home. Imported from Ochamchire, the plague later became a problem within Ambrolauri. While P'omidori-Zhongya Soup was sconsidered a medium-grade dish that was pioneered by the women of Ambrolauri, it became a staple recipe shared throughout Ambrolauri. This pioneering continued on with the development of other types of foods that were cooked and integrated Zhongya into their recipes. Molchan the First in the final stages of the Molchanic outbreak left for Khidirbegish where he consumed P'omidori-Zhongya Soup, which he wrote down the First Molchanic Accounts. He described it as, "From the sweat and effort of the men and women of Diasamidze turns the Zhongya. From the love and affection of those who lived past the plague shown in the pulp of the P'omidori. Creamy yet chunky, sweet but sour, the true dynamic of a tastebud is tested with this soup."
After the end of the Molchanic outbreak of the Ochamchiran Plague, the large food halls did not reopen in Ochamchire, Khidirbegish, Diasamidze, or Ambrolauri. While Zhongya remained an apart of the diet of some Akannus, Zhongya became an integral part of cooked dishes, particularily in the cities that did not have their halls reopened.
Second Abiatharic Era
During the Second Abiatharic Era, led by Abiathar the Second, Zhongya had completely spread throughout Imedio as a whole due to its relative ease of ingredients. After the Sphiridonic-Abiatharic Dispute and the disappearance of Callistratus, Abiathar the Second focused entirely on importance of Akannus culture. The reinvoragtion of older foods that had started becoming less popular in certain regions became one of his priorities. As such, Zhongya played a somewhat small role in the grand scheme. It was given the spotlight along with Sombuizi with the many foods. His project, called the Cultural Revival, was an important part of Abiathar's reign.
Cities that have had their food halls closed would not reopen them during the Cultural Revival, despite the pleas of Abiathar. Most of which that had closed had become repurposed for other reasons. Cities without the food halls would usually have families buy private reserves from Zhongya makers.
First Kldisubanic Era
During the First Kldisubanic Era, the establishment of a basic standard was brought on by Kldisuban the First, the then K'vari Sabaphos Mepe. Zhongya, still apart of Akannus cuisine, had started to gain a reputation for being wildly different from its predecessor. Originally intending to put a moratarium on the sale of Zhongya, Kldisuban relented from the advice from his Sabaphos. Instead, Kldisuban went to establish what could be considered at a minimum of Zhongya while keeping the regional variants of Zhongya still Zhongya at their core. Taking representatives from several different families around Imedio that had dedicated their practice to creating Zhongya, what made a cheese Zhongya was heavily disputed among families.
According to the Account of Cheesemakers, the families were gathered in Senadon and the meeting was overseen by Seiran Noi, the Conference Leader of the Sabaphos. The families quarreled for a month until compromising and agreeing on the issue of the base formula that is still used today. Given the name Dzveli Zhongya, or referred to as Senadonuri Zhongya, was determined to be the base of all Zhongya variants. The base of the milk must be Tkha, meaning Tkha milk must make the majority of the total milk before curdling. Afterwards it would be brined and then aged. The exact amount minimum for the Tkha milk used and the salinity of the brine was not determined during this account, but the basics to making Zhongya was made.
First Senekeric Era
During the First Senekeric Era, Senekerim the First wanted to expand on Kldisuban the First's standardization. Using the Account of Cheesemakers and the Account of References of Kldisuban the First, Senekerim was able to reconvene the same cheesemaking families that were described and referenced within the Account of Cheesemakers. Wishing to do more than simply establish standards, Senekerim convened a meeting on the issue of the creation of a single entity to verify what cheeses were Zhongya. While this event in its details was not recorded in an Account, it is noted that the Zhongya Inspection Committee was started during the First Senekeric Era as an alliance between many different Zhongya makers.
The means of creating Zhongya were consolidated by the Zhongya Inspection Committee, which did not have a name until the Second Matsilian Era. Vendors and chefs who bought or used Zhongya needed assurance that the cheese they were recieving was certifiable Zhongya.
Second Matsilian Era
During the Second Matsilian Era, the First Cultural Revolution was started by Matsil the Second and the Second Matsilian Sabaphos. The First Cultural Revolution was a sociopolitical movement started by Matsil that would seek to return the Akannus towards a more traditionalist society. While this was an overall failure that ended once Matsil the Second died, certain parts succeeded. Matsil the Second detailed within his Account of the Return, an account that recorded his ideas on going about the First Cultural Revolution. He detailed apart to cuisine, in which he intended to reopen the food halls of cities that had closed in the past. This included Zhongya production centered cities such as Ochamchire, Khidirbegish, Diasamidze, and Ambrolauri. He built new food halls in Ochamchire and Diasamidze due to their food halls being repurposed, Ochamchire becoming the Hall of Ochamchiran Romance and Diasamidze becoming the Hall of the Diasamidze Baths.
Ultimately this pushed Zhongya and different cultural foods into the spotlight into these cities, however these food halls came with meddling success. Ochamchire's new food hall was demolished after the end of the Second Matsilian Era, while Khidirbegish and Ambrolauri's food halls being repurposed. Diasamidze's new food hall remained open until the War of the Timeless.
Production by region
The main areas of production are centered around historical cities that enjoyed Zhongya as a mainstay within the diet and cuisine of regional cultures. There are only 9 recognized city centers that are vital to the production of Zhongya that contain over 90% of modern day manufacturers. The majority of cities that are integral to Zhongya are located within the territories of the Akanovan Federal Territories, with 4 cities. There are 3 cities within the Akaniti Realm and 2 within the P'olit'niri.
Akanovan Federal Territories
Within the Akanovan Federal Territories and within the Second Order of K'vari, Zhongya is considered part of the Akanovan cuisine spotlight. The four cities that are central to the production of Zhongya are Senadon, Serenope, Asatiani, and K'anama. The Akanovan cities that are central to the production make up 72% of the total amount of Zhongya produced on an annual basis.
Within the Second Order of K'vari, it is one of the many Customary Foods which are served to those permitted within assemblies. Zhongya that is used pro-actively by the Second Order is sourced from local farmers within Senadon. Regional variants are typically only available upon request within the assembly.
Within the Akaniti Realm and within the Vardoni Society, Zhongya does not hold a very important part of Akaniti culture or cuisine. The three cities thata are central to the production to Zhongya are Khidirbegish, Diasamidze, and Ambrolauri. Despite being regional centers, the Akaniti do not produce any other type of Zhongya other than Dzveli Zhongya. As a result, they make 18% of the total amount of Zhongya produced on an annual basis.
The Vardoni Society does not see Zhongya as a food to be held in high regard, and treat it as a relic of the past. While they regard it with some cultural significance, they do not hold it as high as the Second Order.
Within the P'olit'niri, Zhongya does not hold a very important part of Akanuul culture or cuisine. The two cities that are central to the production in Zhongya are Astillia and Ochamchire. Astillia itself is the only non-Akanovan city that still has its own regional variation, the Ast’iliuri Zhongya. The Akanuul cities are not central to the overall production of Zhongya and as such see the lowest amount of total Zhongya produced on an annual basis at 10%.
Second Order of K'vari
Zhongya holds a place as a Customary Food, which makes it a relatively common staple for food provided to K'vari Severibi. Often served at feasts and banquets as a simple table cheese, Zhongya is seen as a food that has been important since the Pre-Timeless Era to the Order of K'vari. Due to the long history of Zhongya, it is considered an Ancestral Customary Food. As such, it is bounded to the traditional belief that originates from the areas of Senadon and Serenope. Zhongya that is used by the Second Order is sourced only from these areas.
Due to its place as a Ancestral Customary Food, Zhongya is served with several restrictions and has several different rituals surrounding it within the Second Order that has been detailed by the Societal Preservation Assembly. As an Ancestral Customary Food, Zhongya must be made the way Dzveli Zhongya is made, meaning no regional variations are to be served. If regional variations are served, they are considered as under Zhongya and reflects that in the quantity served.
Customarily, it is placed in a silver bowl and covered with a white cloth, Zhongya is served in a crumbled form. The silver bowl must remain as apart of the centerpiece of tables during feasts, and can be uncovered to get cheese. A spoon is used to gather the Zhongya from the bowl and place on one's meal.
Particularly observant members may recite a pledge over the silver bowl of crumbled Zhongya, which is called a Maradisoban table blessing. This table blessing is rare but is typically practiced by members of the Societal Preservation Assembly.
The planet of Iridesa is the largest importer of Zhongya from the planet of Imedio, as Zhongya is extremely popular in Iridesa. During the Colonization of Iridesa, Zhongya served as a staple of the diet of colonizing Akannites on Iridesa. Iridesan Akannites, as they are referred to, were typically given Zhongya as apart of their rations before the local fauna and flora could be tested as to whether it was safe and tasty to Akannite palettes. Zhongya was able to be transported and eaten by the Iridesan Akannites as a table cheese, but has mostly transferred from table cheese to a cooking cheese. Iridesan innovations with Zhongya have been on par with Molchanic Era innovation in cooking with Zhongya during the Ochamchiran Plague.
In modern times, Zhongya still holds as one of the most popular cheeses on the planet and is the most imported cheese on Iridesa. Zhongya has a cultural association with the Iridesan Akannites in their initial struggle to colonize Iridesa. Faced with possibility of starvation, imported Zhongya played a crucial part in the survival of Iridesan Akannites before suitable food sources could be found on Iridesa. While the exact number is not fully detailed, it was presumed that a five year supply of Zhongya was part of the initial shipment of food supplies to Iridesa.
While further colonization attempts on other planets took place, Zhongya did not play a crucial part in those colonizations as it did in Iridesa's colonization. As such, it is semi-claimed by Iridesan Akannites as a hereditary food in a similar line of the Second Order's claim of Zhongya being a Ancestral Customary Food. While no rituals surround it, Zhongya remains a popular dish and is both served as a table cheesed and used as a cooking cheese.
Dzveli Zhongya with a piece of mint on the top in a cubed shape.
Asatiani Tetri Zhongya topped with abreshumi oil and served with a serving knife and P’omidvrebi.
- List of Akannite Cheeses
- Cheese in Akannite Cuisine
- Sombuizi - A cheese that emerged at a similar time to Zhongya during the Pre-Constructionist Era in Ochramchire.
- Sanigis - A cheese similar to Zhongya in texture but lacks taste, inspired from Zhongya.