That's all to say: you can't leave out food when you build your new world. It's better if you take the time to think about the standard menus and pantries of various regions too instead of everyone just eating stew and crusty bread regardless of where they travel (not that I mind the standard fantasy meal fare but variety and spice of life, etc).
George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is an example of food in fiction done right. In fact, he may have gone overboard in his descriptions. Goodness knows I've seen plenty of complaints from people who are tired of reading about honeyed chicken described in all its glory. I am not one of those people. I want to know how it looks, how it smells, what it tastes like, and heck, even what sort of cup is used to serve the iced wine. All of it adds to the story and makes it more real and believable. In my opinion, fantasy and sci-fi are best when they are grounded in some sort of reality.
Not only do a lot of people seem to share my thoughts about the importance of feasts in fiction, more than a few have taken a step further. People are creating recipes and cooking food found in pages. I'm sure fans have been doing this for, well, for as long as food has been described in books, but the internet lets everyone share what they're doing and the community seems to be growing. I particularly enjoy these three sites:
The Inn at the Crossroads - focused on the world of A Song of Ice and Fire; they even have a published cookbook officially endorsed by Mr. Martin!
Fictional Food - they have recipes from a little bit of everything from books to comics. I used a lot of recipes from this site for my Hunger Games party.
Food Through the Pages - you can find a range of recipes here from books like Coraline, The Hobbit, and fairytales. She recently shared a version of klava from the Vlad Taltos books that I'm very excited to try.
There are plenty more sites where those came from, but I feel good about recommending these to you if you're looking for some recipes to start trying. It's also a blast to come up with your own. If you're a super talented chef, you can probably write your own recipes. I am not though. I am capable in the kitchen, but I don't know how to formulate recipes. If I read about a food I like in a fantasy book, I'll consider the descriptions carefully and try to find an already existing recipe I can tweak to match it. If you're starting from scratch, it can be really fun to research. If the book is in a medieval setting, think about what sort of cooking technology they could utilize. If it's set in a desert, think about what sort of spices and food they would have realistically had available. I like that The Inn at the Crossroads ladies consider that there are no tomatoes in Westeros. Keeping it authentic is fun and challenging.
A friend and I have decided to make Friday nights fantasy food making night. We made lembas bread on our first night, and I'll be posting about that in the next couple of days. In the meantime tell me: have you ever made food from a book or comic?