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Author Topic: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)  (Read 30517 times)

slink

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #60 on: July 12, 2010, 09:51:34 am »


Quote from: Slink
I see in my mind's eye my eldest aunt's cold cellar (...).

Thanks. I'm a villager myself and we used to can pretty much everything  :) Still, I'm not sure if people in history could can as easily as we can ( ::)). I mean, you need glass jars to can things in, right? How common would glass jars be around 1400? Not much I think. So when I wrote "with difficulties and in small amounts", I meant that and should have been more direct. "Small amounts" is to avoid canning whole barrels at once, and "with difficulties" = requires glass jars you need to create in your glass smelter first.

However, that made me look up canning at wikipedia. Turns out it was invented in 1809, which means we might have to omit it completely. The problem is I guess that you need an air-tight container. While dwarves could probably invent something along the lines, I'm not sure how Toady feels about modern inventions in the game (he doesn't like steam power, though dwarves could invent that too).

I had forgotten that the game was supposed to be set in 1400.  Very well then, no canning in the modern sense.  But food was still preserved in pottery containers by candying, pickling, salting, and even, in the case of eggs, liming.  Those methods only required immersion in a material and a cover to keep flies out.  Am I correct that we don't have to limit ourselves to the continent of Europe, where at that time people were dying of bubonic plague and suffering from a mini-ice age?

Quote from: Slink
That completely overlooks dried fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms, which are also possible.

I omitted that to avoid too much complexity. If we could can/pickle everything, there would be no need for just another way of preservation, right? But now that we might have to forget about canning, drying seems the way to go. Although I'm not sure. You can't dry everything - you can dry mushrooms, but not carrots or potatoes. How to handle that in game and not make it confusing? Ideally, one way of preservation would apply to a whole category of foods, not to specific examples. That way, you would be able to dry mushrooms, but not fruit nor vegetables. How does it sound?

You can dry carrots and potatoes if you slice them thinly in the same way you slice fruit for drying.  People usually don't though, because root crops store well in root cellars, along with apples (but not in the same section because of the ethylene given off by ripe apples).  If the climate allowed, cabbages were left in the garden but covered with straw so that they could be dug out for eating "fresh" even when snow covered the ground.  Which comes to another point.  As long as all crops grow at all times of the year, waste won't change anyone's playing style other than forcing them to make huge refuse piles.  In 40d, I often had a lot of rotted vegetation on my refuse piles until I learned how small a plot was actually needed.  When I first started playing, I was making 11x11 plots for each type of plant.  Now I plant everything in 3x3 plots inside one 11x11 room.  If you want a more realistic food supply, one place to make changes is in the growing seasons.  At the end of 40d's lifetime, I was playing with a farming mod that changed the seasons and the yields for every crop.  To that I added a couple that I favored (honey and chocolate). 

I quite enjoy seeing the various dishes that emerge from the larger variety of edible animal parts.  If I had a wish that could be fulfilled, it would be for more realistic descriptions of the dishes that are cooked.  Calling something made of intestines, grain, and meat, "stew", when it could be a perfectly good sausage, seems like a waste of the variety that now exists in the game.  Also, the word "roast" does not bring to my mind a dish made of four items.  A roast is a hunk of meat.  I think when the new version settles down that I will change those to "snack", "meal", and "banquet".  It still won't be a fully correct description, but it will be less wrong.  But recipes are a different topic from your premise, as I understand it. 

I haven't read the discussions in this thread other than to skim over them to see if my point on food preservation had been made.  Therefore, my comments now may be duplicates and most certainly a ramble through my opinions.

If caravans are not going to buy preserved foods, on the basis that foods are grown and preserved for local use and won't survive transit, then they also cannot bring any foods.  That ought to apply to booze as well, because beers and wines did not travel well in barrels and casks.  That is why so many local "labels" sprang up.  We had to wait until modern times to make beers and wines so bland and tasteless that they won't suffer from being delivered by UPS (company slogan: "If it was damaged in transit then it wasn't packaged well enough").   :P

It seems then that the only food-related things the caravan can carry are seeds, spices, and salt, which is again historically accurate.  Marco Polo didn't bring back cellophane packages of pasta.  He brought back the idea of pasta, and possibly the spices with which to season the sauces.  The life-saving effects of the first caravan in spring, after a tantrum spiral killed off all but a man and two boys, will therefore be greatly reduced.  Of course, caravans in European history were long-distance travellers.  Local villages carried produce to nearby large cities, for sale.  Perhaps the Elves are to be considered as natives living in the woods, trading their harvested nuts and berries to the Dwarven settlers in return for beads made of stone.  Then what are the Humans?  And how close is the parent Dwarven civilization?

I am all for greater variety in food preparation.  It would require that we be able to make our own reactions involving food in containers.  Once that is done, we can make our own custom workshops that create edible foods.  It would be easier if there was an edible food type raw file other than the blanket "2=biscuit, 3=stew, 4=roast".  However, there needs to be a simpler underlying mode in which beginning players can learn the game.  And as long as there is a simpler underlying mode, such as living entirely on plump helmets and water, people who don't like to bother with the cooking aspect can leave it that way. 

No one should be forced to play with a complicated food system if they don't want to, or with any other aspect of the game that they dislike.  The introduction of randomly constituted Forgotten Beasts and Fun House Clowns comes close to violating that principle for me with regards to combat, because I can't change the raw files to prevent them from being a hazard.  This effectively closes off magma to me in the game because I simply don't ever get my military up and running in time to defend against those things.  I had already given up adamantine, which didn't bother me since it was only used for combat purposes unless there was a mandate.  I wouldn't like the same thing to be done to me in the food arena, ie, the removal of free choice in how I play the game.  As long as your proposed improvements leave loopholes for those who don't want to use them, I don't see that they hurt anything and they might actually improve recipies.   ;D

A side-note on loopholes.  DF is a single-player game.  There is no point in hunting down "exploits" in a single-player game, because we aren't in competition with each other.  We are playing the game for individual fun and satisfaction.  If people join a contest then there must be rules and then can be cheating and "exploits".  Otherwise, there is just "my set of conditions" for each person.

Edit:  Not all of us think "losing is fun".  We don't mind that Tarn Adams uses that for a slogan.  We appreciate that he gives us methods by which we don't have to lose, so we are not forced to lose in order to start a new fortress, which is in fact a lot of fun.  The broad-based appeal of DF is due to its flexibility.  It has always amazed me that this forum can contain the broad spectrum of attitudes that it does, but somehow Bay12Games makes it work.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 09:56:18 am by slink »
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Lord Shonus

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #61 on: July 12, 2010, 06:28:43 pm »


If caravans are not going to buy preserved foods, on the basis that foods are grown and preserved for local use and won't survive transit, then they also cannot bring any foods.  That ought to apply to booze as well, because beers and wines did not travel well in barrels and casks.  That is why so many local "labels" sprang up.  We had to wait until modern times to make beers and wines so bland and tasteless that they won't suffer from being delivered by UPS (company slogan: "If it was damaged in transit then it wasn't packaged well enough").   :P

It seems then that the only food-related things the caravan can carry are seeds, spices, and salt, which is again historically accurate.  Marco Polo didn't bring back cellophane packages of pasta.  He brought back the idea of pasta, and possibly the spices with which to season the sauces.  The life-saving effects of the first caravan in spring, after a tantrum spiral killed off all but a man and two boys, will therefore be greatly reduced.  Of course, caravans in European history were long-distance travellers.  Local villages carried produce to nearby large cities, for sale.  Perhaps the Elves are to be considered as natives living in the woods, trading their harvested nuts and berries to the Dwarven settlers in return for beads made of stone.  Then what are the Humans?  And how close is the parent Dwarven civilization?


That's not accurate at all. Exotic food and drink made up a huge amount of trade as far back as Phoenician times. Greek and Egyptian ships have been found that show evidence of carrying far more food than would be neccessary for ships's stores. In more modern times, the Byzantine empire (in what is now turkey) grew more than ninety percent of it's grain in Egypt and even further south, a practice that ended only when Egypt was conquered in the 1200s. The reason so many local vitners and distilleries cropped up was beacause shipping was expensive, not because you couldn't ship drinks. Most kinds of grain could be shipped by land (sea shipping is more difficult because of moisture, but doable) as could dried fruit, preserved meats (although shipping on the hoof is easier and more economical), cheeses, oils, and booze.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #62 on: July 12, 2010, 06:39:31 pm »

Salted cod was one of the original exports of the American colonies, shipped in such quantities that they were able to pay for the northern colonies' upkeep - they survived 1-month trips across the Atlantic.  (The south paid its way with tobacco.)

In the early years of America, when the Appalachains were being crossed by settlers, the inacessable areas of places like West Virginia or Kentucky or Tenessee were major moonshining country because the primary crop in the area was corn, which would not make it to market, but corn-fed hogs and home-distilled whiskey would survive a journey of a couple of months.  (A tax on this whiskey was seen as such a threat to the lifestyle of those who had ventured beyond the Appalachains that it caused the so-called Whiskey Rebellion, and the first major challenge to national sovereignty.)
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Lord Shonus

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #63 on: July 12, 2010, 06:45:26 pm »

I considered those poins, but I wanted too avoid anything too modern.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #64 on: July 12, 2010, 06:54:29 pm »

I considered those poins, but I wanted too avoid anything too modern.

Packing salted fish in a barrel is hardly technology beyond dwarves, even if it took place outside the stated arbitrary timeline whose main purpose is to exclude the likes of steam powered trains or guns.
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Lord Shonus

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #65 on: July 12, 2010, 07:25:25 pm »

No, but the ships they used were much more advanced, technologically, than older ones, and I wished to eliminate that possible counter argument.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #66 on: July 12, 2010, 07:35:45 pm »

The Chinese Junk was an oceangoing vessel that was probably at least on par with the European oceangoing vessels of the day, and possibly even more seaworthy, thanks to its airtight bulkheads.  They were in use until the end of the age of sail power, and actually still continue to see use, if not in as prominant a role.  The same basic design has been in use since about 200 BCE.

The problem with arbitrary year cutoffs on technology is that not all technologies advance at the same rate when you have isolated populations. 

Just as there is no real technological difference between the barrels used in the 1200s and the 1800s, there really isn't a technological difference between the way that ships were made in Greco-roman times and the Age of Exploration, excepting how they armed the ships.  The reason Europeans didn't have much by way of oceangoing vessels in the dark ages is simply because Europeans wouldn't travel any water but the Mediterranean at that time.
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Lord Shonus

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #67 on: July 12, 2010, 09:27:24 pm »

Actually, it was a lack of charts and accurate clocks, but we digress. Me and you are on exactly the same page on this, I think, and hijacking the thread is unneeded.
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slink

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #68 on: July 12, 2010, 10:55:26 pm »

I think this involves the matter of distance that I referred to in the part of my post that you quoted.  Are we talking about a trek on foot to Europe across all of Asia and Asia Minor, or a shipboard jaunt across the Mediterranean in the shorter direction?  It's clear that in the absolute lowest limit, people traded all kinds of goods including perishables.  How long are the trade routes in DF?

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NW_Kohaku

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #69 on: July 12, 2010, 11:03:15 pm »

I think this involves the matter of distance that I referred to in the part of my post that you quoted.  Are we talking about a trek on foot to Europe across all of Asia and Asia Minor, or a shipboard jaunt across the Mediterranean in the shorter direction?  It's clear that in the absolute lowest limit, people traded all kinds of goods including perishables.  How long are the trade routes in DF?

That depends on what you want to count as a "trade route"...  Either to the edge of the map, or "as long as it needs to be".

Caravans in-game are spawned on the edge of the map, and all its contents are spawned with it at around the beginning of the season.  When they walk off the map's edge, they vaporize and report back to their home civ.

In terms of how far they stretch, it is, again, as far as it needs to be, either one map tile over, or across the world, although there are no such things as boats in DF, so no sea trade exists.

The caravan arc, when it is completed, should hopefully make these have real answers...

If we are to take their overland speed from how they move in fortress time, however, it would take them a few months to traverse a single region tile on the map, which would almost certainly mean years of travel between any two cities, although I would suspect that caravans would probably travel at rates more similar to the rate that adventurers travel overland, except at a slightly slower speed, as wagons seem to travel at around 2/3s or 1/2 the rate of normal dwarves.
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Kilo24

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #70 on: July 12, 2010, 11:50:34 pm »

Kohaku, I'm afraid I have to distance myself from your nutritional idea.  :P It would require overtly complex underlying mechanisms noone would be able to remember, and the only visible end result would be that one dwarf eats 3 foods per meal, while another one eats 5. Which is IMHO wrong! All dwarves need to eat 1 food exactly. The disparity would make the stocks screen and the number of stockpiled food completely useless. The player would have no way to tell how much food there is and how long the stocks will last. Making Dwarf Fortress more obscure is not what we want.

But I'm also afraid Toady agrees with you because I seem to remember he wrote somewhere he wanted to implement a nutritional system. My two cents are: I don't really care about nutritional system, as long as it works in the background, is completely automated and doesn't make the game any more complicated. All I am willing to do is to provide different food sources - if the dwarves handle the rest automatically, so be it. But if I'm required to monitor their food intake, carefully prepare recipes for a balanced diet and whatnot, I'm probably quiting the game.

I agree with a realistic comprehensive food system being a bad idea.  Lumping on diseases and attribute penalties due to various vitamin deficiencies would have to be handled delicately and in a highly user-friendly, automatic manner to avoid being a much bigger problem than the value it adds to the game.

I'd far prefer to keep it a happiness bonus/penalty when the happiness values get to be relevant.

Actually, I tend to disagree, and think that this game needs to be refocused down on the individual dwarf...
Myself, I tend to agree or disagree based on the system being proposed, not upon the area it's focused on.  Specifically, I like adding things which give interesting new opportunities for the player to do.  Conquer an enemy, build an empire, set up a trading route, or manipulate a dwarf into being a great leader or madman, create personality-based or religious tension between dwarves to resolve, or ...  Not to control nutrition to prevent scurvy, re-irrigate farms, or personally make sure each and every uniform is dyed.

Micromanagement should be kept as unnecessary as possible, because otherwise Dwarf Fortress will collapse under its own weight with all the features that accumulate.

Edit:  Not all of us think "losing is fun".  We don't mind that Tarn Adams uses that for a slogan.  We appreciate that he gives us methods by which we don't have to lose, so we are not forced to lose in order to start a new fortress, which is in fact a lot of fun.  The broad-based appeal of DF is due to its flexibility.  It has always amazed me that this forum can contain the broad spectrum of attitudes that it does, but somehow Bay12Games makes it work.
I believe that you can wall off any passages you make into the underground fairly easily.  It's what I did my first fortress, anyways.

And yes, this is part of what I'm talking about.  The more systems that you *need* to worry about to simply be able to play the game, the harder it will be to learn, and the less fun it will be to people who don't like some systems.  The more systems that benefit you to learn/implement, the more fun the game will be to people who want to play with those.

I also recall a quote a while back that asked to make thoughts from food for the first year or so less detrimental.  I'd prefer to just add a thought that hits all the founders immediately upon arrival that gives a significant happiness boost like "[Name] is eager to work with the founding of [Fortress Name]", so that it covers a number of problem like having no beds and other things that founding dwarves shouldn't expect to immediately have.

More directly on topic:  I do like the proposed prepared food system.  It provides a better system than the current one; having a kitchen becomes a luxury, not a way to preserve food indefinitely.  As such, it's pretty much only a happiness boost (spices would fit well here, btw.)

However, I am worried about requiring players to put more dwarves on food production, since stockpiling is harder.  Maybe meat gets smoked as part of the preparation and as such, it doesn't spoil?  And baking hardtack biscuits can't spoil either, but most dwarves would prefer something else (they give a low amount of happiness)?  Crops would spoil, of course, and dwarves would generally prefer food that would be prone to spoiling over other food for practical reasons.
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Jiri Petru

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #71 on: July 13, 2010, 05:17:23 am »

Kilo: Thanks for popping in!

Having a kitchen becomes a luxury, not a way to preserve food indefinitely.  As such, it's pretty much only a happiness boost (spices would fit well here, btw.)
Yeah, that's about what I had in mind.

However, I am worried about requiring players to put more dwarves on food production, since stockpiling is harder.  Maybe meat gets smoked as part of the preparation and as such, it doesn't spoil?  And baking hardtack biscuits can't spoil either, but most dwarves would prefer something else (they give a low amount of happiness)?  Crops would spoil, of course, and dwarves would generally prefer food that would be prone to spoiling over other food for practical reasons.

I'm not sure how much harder would it be to obtain and keep food. Perhaps the same, perhaps a bit harder. If it gets harder, you could either devote more dwarves to food production, or arrange caravans with food supplies. Toady wants to get some "population sprawl" in the next series of releases, which would probably mean your fortress could easily get food from outlying villages (unless besieged). I would actually like this, but in the end it's Toady's decision how he handles the economy, the fortress dependence on outside world, etc. I think he could probably implement this suggestion in such a way that it wouldn't require more farmers. Anyway...

You're right, meat could get preserved automatically as part of butchery. Ideally, the butcher's workshop would double as a smokery and a saltery (?). The butcher would cut the animal and automatically preserve all meat... either by putting it into barrels along with salt, or by smoking it.

This would probably mean the "butcher an animal job" would have some prerequisites, though. Either salt and a barrel for salting, or a piece of wood for smoking. Should we still allow butchering without any of these, ie. butchering that yields rw meat? Raw meat is useless, spoils too quickly and can't be stored (unless you have a freezer). So what's the point in allowing it? I think we might want to let it in for the rare famine where you butcher a cow and want to cook it immediately (which shouldn't require salt nor wood). But I'm not sure how to handle this in terms of automation. We don't want butchers automatically creating useless raw meat when you don't have means to dry/salt it, and when you don't need to eat the meat right now. Any ideas?

-----------------

As we're talking about economy, caravans and travel distances, what do you all think about this? Would you change/add/remove anything?

  • Grain, vegetables and fruit are cheap and available in huge supplies. They are only traded in the raw form.
  • Since fruit and vegetables are spoilables, they should have limited caravan "range". Caravans would take them only short distances. Grain doesn't spoil and can be shipped all over the world.
  • Addendum: I think the problem with fruit/vegetables transport wasn't just time, but perhaps more importantly the hazards of medieval travel - insects, bumping and other nasty things that would destroy the fruit after quite a short distance
  • Raw meat and raw fish are average priced and can be traded only extremely short distances since they spoil too fast. Prepared organs fall into this category as well, so you wouldn't be able to buy sausages for example.
  • Meat instead gets traded in livestock form  :)  If you want sausages, you have to butcher the pig yourself! Livestock is expensive and can be traded short distances (I guess?).
  • Preserved (smoked, salted...) meats and fish are expensive but can be traded all over the world.
  • Milk is extremely short distances only.

-----

Also, as a separate issue, how could we preserve fruit and vegetables if we decide not to use canning (as it was invented in 1809)? I'm still skeptical about drying, as I'm not sure how many foods you can realistically dry. But perhaps someone would illuminate me?
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Nil Eyeglazed

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #72 on: July 13, 2010, 05:27:13 am »

Excuse me if I'm mistaken-- but isn't the original point of cooking to destroy pathogens?  Old meat can give a heck of a tummy-ache, but not if you boil it before eating it.  Happiness doesn't really enter the picture.  You know what I'm talking about if you're as big of a fan of sashimi as I am.

If your goal has something to do with realism, it might involve preparation of rotten foodstuffs.
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Lord Shonus

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #73 on: July 13, 2010, 05:33:51 am »

The "original point" of cooking meat was probably to make it taste better and be easier to chew. It didn't take long for the proto-humans who discovered it to realize that cooked food lasted a lot longer. Cooking as a means of avoiding pathogens is a fairly recent concept.
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Nil Eyeglazed

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Re: More reasonable food system (aka Down with prepared meals!)
« Reply #74 on: July 13, 2010, 05:52:23 am »

Using language like "pathogens" is probably inappropriate of me.  Obviously, people didn't think they were killing germs when they were cooking meat, say, ten thousand years ago.

But they were probably perfectly aware that stinky meat made them sick, and that there was nothing wrong with stinky meat if they got really hot immediately before being eaten.

Cooking, in the sense of getting food hot, doesn't really make food last any longer, except to the extent that it also dries the food.  It doesn't help to cook food before putting it in the storeroom.  (It does help to cook it before putting it in your mouth, of course.)

I can't imagine the purpose of cooking to be either taste or easier chewing.  Taste is really culturally dependent, and people tend to like what is commonly available; it's hard to imagine that people didn't think that cooked food tasted bad when they were used to raw food.  While there are exceptions, novelty is usually a turn-off rather than a turn-on.  (For us: mm, insects!)  Maybe its just that I personally prefer more raw foods, like I mentioned in my sashimi example.  Regarding chewing: I have this feeling that people started cooking before they started living long enough to lose significant amounts of teeth.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Of all the kinds of physical labor I try to avoid, chewing isn't one of them.  Maybe because I just tend to swallow giant hunks whole :)

But this has me super curious.  I'm reading the wikipedia article on cooking right now. 

Later: but it doesn't shed any light on anything.  I'm not sure anybody knows why people started cooking food instead of eating it raw; clearly, even in regards to that, we've made different decisions about what foods should be cooked.  More, it reminds me that this is a potentially controversial topic, with regards to raw foods activists.
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He he he.  Yeah, it almost looks done...  alas...  those who are in your teens, hold on until your twenties...  those in your twenties, your thirties...  others, cling to life as you are able...<P>It should be pretty fun though.
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