About cooking, food, ingredients

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Rehab Rehab's picture
About cooking, food, ingredients

So cooking food with grown ingredients, rather than nanofabricating it (at least not directly) is/can be a thing in EP, if maybe a big ol' luxury. What might be needed to grow/acquire the top-of-the-line stuff, though? In terms of equipment, (corporate?) infrastructure and connections, and just plain big money/clout. What kinds of complications might apply to the basics of supplying cooks, restaurants and so on? Like, might providing fresh ingredients be the domain of hypercorps, analogous to how a lot of it goes today, or would there even be enough of a market to corner? If so, who could afford to be their customers?
(just brainstorming here, not necessarily looking for one canon response. just for the record)

I'm imagining the range of existing cooks may include: personal chefs who wait on people/institutions wealthy enough to basically snap their fingers and pay for the chef to acquire whatever in time for individual meals*, those working at restaurants catering to the elite, and ones going down the line from those serving a more middling population to those who can just squeak above the line of "can afford to eat something that isn't nanofabbed at home or (mercy forbid) publicly dispensed once in a while." Wherever it may lie, that is. Wondering how far the bottom line in the business of serving "real" food (pardon the biocon/chauvinist phrasing) to people can be stretched before fresh/non-fabbed ingredients aren't really affordable any more.

*Take that Consortium fat cat Charlie Boy in Melt, Sunward straight-up eating boiled pufferfish testes and letting his medichines neutralize the tetrodotoxin before it sends him into paralysis and respiratory failure (although I'm not sure whether that was in a restaurant or an apartment or what, come to think of it). I'd, uh, probably assume put stuff like that towards the more crazy-luxurious end of cooking and food; where some cook is either bringing animals back from beyond the grave with genetic samples so they can be cooked into a meal, potentially for just one guy at a time; or where they're honest-to-god serving up one of the last living animals from an earth population. (Maybe even further past the point of madness could lie stuff like, say; commissioning the design of one-of-a-kind bioengineered lifeform, born to be eaten, to achieve outrageous new heights in taste; morphs designed to have ever more refined senses of taste and smell etc; and of course the hyperelites escalating everything for the sake of it from there, as typical.)
Or maybe they just fabbed it. But that's no fun.

On a rather separate note, synthmorphs. Particularly the clanking masses. What might they have going on with food?
Given a lot of them probably don't care, or are even happy, that they don't have to pay for or worry about food, but I imagine at least some significant number must miss the tastes of food and sensations of eating (along with any number of their other old sensory inputs, but anyway). I'm wondering what kinda cool stuff could be done to address that potential desire. Getting into some foodie XP is an option, of course, (as it would be for any kind of morph,) but I imagine that couldn't satisfy everybody pining for their tongues back.

If a biobrain in a synthmorph is possible, maybe it wouldn't be too many steps removed to cobble together some kind of digestive system (hopefully a more efficient one than ours) and/or a sense of taste and smell? Or to simulate it, at least. Could be a neat avenue for research in somebody's game, maybe. That's all still thinking pretty in-the-box, though. I wonder if there could be developed some kind of more unique synthmorph analog to eating and taste and so on, some other way for them to experience the highs food can give us, and the insights it can provide into the environments we find ourselves in. Not to mention the roles it plays in culture. Maybe jiggering their optics such that a sweep of their scanners can simulate a sense akin to taste?
(I say I wonder because I'm mostly drawing a blank. Also, not much of a cook, much less an analyst of the senses.)

(Also, of course a lot of this, if not all, is referring to the inner system and its preferred kinds of economies with harder currency. The anarchists probably have their own interesting stuff going on with cooking and growing fresh nonfabbed food- a lot of them might think it's wasteful or even decadent, or something that should only be done for special occasions, but I can imagine a good number of habs also have people who at least cook for fun. Not to mention primitivists and however many individual habs make food and/or agriculture their big focus. Some angles that could be played with there.)
(Also also, I am now imagining one more token high point that might be given to the Jovians: they could well have an above-average number of damn fine cooks. If only by necessity, but y'know.)

Spoiler: Highlight to view

Full disclosure: I'm in part fixating on all this to help work out a character concept: an erstwhile hyperelite top-level chef and entrepreneur, endeavoring to serve the BEST Food! made with the BEST Ingredients! to the swathes of people who're leagues away from able to afford it normally, so far as it's possible. Return the right to enjoy the love of food to all transhumanity, one customer at a time, and all that.
Would probably have their work cut out for them, I'm thinking.

Noble Pigeon Noble Pigeon's picture
Rehab wrote:

Rehab wrote:

I'm imagining the range of existing cooks may include: personal chefs who wait on people/institutions wealthy enough to basically snap their fingers and pay for the chef to acquire whatever in time for individual meals*, those working at restaurants catering to the elite, and ones going down the line from those serving a more middling population to those who can just squeak above the line of "can afford to eat something that isn't nanofabbed at home or (mercy forbid) publicly dispensed once in a while." Wondering how far the bottom line in the business of serving "real" food (pardon the biocon/chauvinist phrasing) to people can be stretched before fresh/non-fabbed ingredients aren't really affordable any more.

Pffft, if it's considered bioconservative to prefer real food as opposed to stuff like printed fruit, sign me the hell up!

Anyway, I can imagine being a waiter/waitress would be a much more prestigious job in restaurants than it is today, if only because of the rep system. Being an awesome waiter means your rep is pinged more..

Quote:
On a rather separate note, synthmorphs. Particularly the clanking masses. What might they have going on with food?

Nothing. Except for simulating eating food and consuming vintage wine, although as you said that wouldn't nearly be enough. There would be demand for something more, which would lead to...

Quote:
If a biobrain in a synthmorph is possible, maybe it wouldn't be too many steps removed to cobble together some kind of digestive system (hopefully a more efficient one than ours) and/or a sense of taste and smell?

Blech. Not this.

Quote:
Or to simulate it, at least. Could be a neat avenue for research in somebody's game, maybe. That's all still thinking pretty in-the-box, though. I wonder if there could be developed some kind of more unique synthmorph analog to eating and taste and so on, some other way for them to experience the highs food can give us, and the insights it can provide into the environments we find ourselves in. Not to mention the roles it plays in culture. Maybe jiggering their optics such that a sweep of their scanners can simulate a sense akin to taste?
(I say I wonder because I'm mostly drawing a blank. Also, not much of a cook, much less an analyst of the senses.)

This would be more interesting (and less gross). I'd imagine that it would be a type of technology that's currently being developed, and with the high demand that would inevitably come from this kind of stuff, would be a closely guarded secret. Cue Shadowrun on Mars.

Quote:
(Also, of course a lot of this, if not all, is referring to the inner system and its preferred kinds of economies with harder currency. The anarchists probably have their own interesting stuff going on with cooking and growing fresh nonfabbed food- a lot of them might think it's wasteful or even decadent, or something that should only be done for special occasions, but I can imagine a good number of habs also have people who at least cook for fun. Not to mention primitivists and however many individual habs make food and/or agriculture their big focus. Some angles that could be played with there.)
(Also also, I am now imagining one more token high point that might be given to the Jovians: they could well have an above-average number of damn fine cooks. If only by necessity, but y'know.)

You are now imagining Gordon Ramsay, still alive in Eclipse Phase, as the greatest chef the Jovian Republic, and likely the entire solar system, ever had. Hero of the Republic indeed!

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.”
-Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union address

Rehab Rehab's picture
Ahaha, noooo, a literal

Ahaha, noooo, a literal stomach and digestive organs sloshing around in a synthmorph would be... less than ideal, yeah. I was thinking something more mechanical, like the synthmorph could just, kinda... maybe have a receptacle about where their mouth would be, that they could put an apple in, or what have you. Get the sensation of taste/"eating," disappear the matter somehow, I dunno, maybe find a way to have it top off their battery power or whatever if you want to get all fancy. ...Or maybe disassemble the raw materials somehow, store em for-no! Too close to "actually useful maybe!"
Probably be a lot of trouble to go to for limited practical bonus, though. And not at most synthmorph makers' lists of features to include, or of synthmorph users' augmentation to acquire.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Quote:If a biobrain in a

Quote:
If a biobrain in a synthmorph is possible, maybe it wouldn't be too many steps removed to cobble together some kind of digestive system (hopefully a more efficient one than ours) and/or a sense of taste and smell? Or to simulate it, at least.

Brainbox. Transhuman. P. 198 . It is an organic brain installed to replace a cyberbrain. It is kept alive by a life support unit that needs nutrients once a month.

It was a made by a scum who wondered if he could use an organic brain on a synthmorph. He now runs around with a synthmorph with transparent titanium skull to show it off.

An organic digestive tract could be installed in a similar manner, but I don't recall any mention of it being done. The closest has been podmorphs. If it was developed for synthmorphs, I would price it as [Moderate].

The synthetic mask option for synthmorphs does simulate the appearance of biological functions quite well (including having spit or bleeding when cut). It does not specifically mention whether or not you could simulate the appearance of eating, or eat period, but I rather not say no. I think it creates more work to assign arbitrary limits to something like that. I also can't find any data on whether or not you could taste something as a synthmorph, but I think such problems are simple to fix with their Eclipse Phase technology.

I tried collecting data on what kind of experiences a synthmorph might have of food, or the very least smell. Unfortunately, the only stuff I've been able to collect on a few quick searches implies that AGIs often have about as much understanding about food as they could get reading about it. In other words, if they were given the job of feeding someone, they might order someone too much food or make a slurry paste painfully devoid of taste. I was hoping at the very least read something about good VR sims.

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
In Ghost in the Shell they

In Ghost in the Shell they had "food" for cyberized people that seemed to be a bland, flavorless mush that existed to give them a sense of normalcy.

Also in RPPR's EP game, they briefly invent or reference a module for synthmorphs that can taste food. But it doesn't digest the matter, merely analyze and replicate the brain stuff that is "taste" in transhuman neurobiology.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

Leetsepeak Leetsepeak's picture
I think synthmorphs use a

I think synthmorphs use a variant of narcoalgorithmns to taste food.

Definitely not as good as the real deal, though.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Naturally, or near naturally

Naturally, or near naturally grown plants are going to be very common. Pretty much every described station map from EP adventures includes agricultural areas (including Kepler, which is way out in the middle of nowhere), combined with the existence and importance of Prosperity Group its pretty clear that natural grown plants are pretty common in system. I'd expect that certain staples such as flour might be nanofabricated though, at least for high-end "ultra pure" brands. Its possible that there are whole agricultural habs, but I'd expect this to be limited to the rare end of food, as shipping stuff through space isn't cheap, and most habs are fairly self-sufficient food-wise.

Meats appear to be more generally cultured (Something Prosperity Group does, and the machines needed are present in the ship in Glory) so there's a lot of space for "whole animal" meats to be a high end food. On the other hand, there is that place on Legba selling Nutria, which are probably naturally grown, so it probably depends on the meat.

I'd expect most synthmorphs to use gastro-algorithms to replicate the experience of eating, as not having food costs is pretty nice for the mechanical poor. Maybe the Galatea can could actually eat though, it is pretty high end. I'd expect a synthmorph which is capable of eating to be verging pretty close to pod-dom though. They probably don't see a lot of use outside of Gatecrashing missions or similar, but a synth with a capability similar to EATR probably exists somewhere. I kind of doubt it can taste (or has the capability active) though, considering its probable diet.

I've generally thought of most cooks as being AIs, with only very high end positions being held by transhumans. Most customer-facing jobs though are likely held by a person, likely an indentured one though, at least in areas which practice indenture.

Rehab Rehab's picture
Oh yeah, pods and AIs!

You guys have been a big help, thanks!

The issue of synthmorphs and taste first came to mind because I got to thinking, "could synths be pretty good morphs for cooks, at least as assistants? Good reflexes and coordination (at least for a well-adjusted user, I assume), senses are probably pretty good with EP's tech, possibly have less need to worry about fatigue and are likely good at multitasking- OH. Wait, that's right. Taste."

Spoiler: Highlight to view

I had thoughts of being a chef as a wee kid, enjoyed the hustle and colorful ingredients/smells and people eating+appreciating something I made, but it kinda stopped me cold to hear that a big part of cooking at any serious level likely required, y'know, tasting the food regularly. Picky eating hangups dog me to this day.

A kitchen with a lot of pods working it sounds like it'd be a pretty common sight, yeah.

Thanks also for the reminder of the standard agricultural areas in habs, and the deals with neuro/gastro-algorithms.
Also, went back to Transhuman's income/living cost levels, where I got the basic ideas on food sources for different income levels; realized it's "vat-grown," not "nanofabbed" food I was thinking of. And that they indeed suggest Moderate income for "can eat out occasionally," High for "can afford 'real' food regularly."

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
I think the Enhanced Smell

I think the Enhanced Smell augmentation could make for a decent substitute for a direct sense of taste. It's pretty powerful.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I was writing up a long post

I was writing up a long post trying to explain my points, but that was becoming too much work. Also, Trappedinwikipedia has a good point. I'll argue it further. If you didn't have any sense of smell, then getting the Enhanced Smell augment would be worth getting if smell really matters. You can get synthetic equivalents for most biological augments. You can buy it for the low low price of [Low], which is rather cheap compared to most morphs. It gives bonuses, so it is probably more expensive than a more basic smell sensor. All things considered, you might as well house rule that smell is standard feature on all synthmorphs.

Its not like that is going to create much problems anyways. The morph creation rules in Transhuman don't charge you extra for having 2 arms, 2 legs, eyes and ears, etc. Those are standard feature, and you don't price reduction for designing morphs with less than that. You still pay for extra limbs though. Its fair to say that you get everything that a normal human does for at no expense unless there is good reason for it to not exist.

Likewise, the money system in this game is fairly abstract, as most things are priced something like [Low] or [Moderate], not 257 credits or 1054.02 credits, so you are not encouraged to book keep every trivial expense. So it wouldn't matter if smell would cost 10 credits or 0.02 credits; especially if you are paying a lot more for a morph that could include it. Perhaps only the cheapest of Case morphs will lack a sense of smell. Anyone else in a synthetic morph who doesn't want to smell can simply turn the sensor off.

Plus there is a few pages on using VR by via mesh inserts. The kind of stuff you can use to give the appearance of weather (such as a sunny day in spring with the roses blooming) in a dull cramped habitat, or remove offensive images from your view (like the face of someone you hate). Some of it covers adding flavor to bland food produced by cheap makers, or removing bad flavors to unpleasent foods. It is a topic perhaps too easily over looked in this game.

Armoured Armoured's picture
Food and XPs

A major technology in EP kind of torpedoes the view that sim-food is "fakey" or that synthmorphs have to use narcoalgorithms; XPs.

Its a literal playback of someone else's senses, indistinguishable from reality as far as I am able to tell from the text. You should be able to limit the feed, to you would only need the smell and taste "channels" of the XP. It even includes the XP recorder's emotional reactions to the food if desired. So for someone eating open-source Nutrient Paste #572E1, if they are running a XP of someone eating a medium rare hand-cloned Kobe steak, they are going to experience that steak. It is going to be amazing.

This doesn't preclude not-nanofabricated food being more expensive, as restaurants in the modern world and presumably the future is an industry more built on perception and status rather than the ingredients. The meme of "expensive food = better food" is not strictly true when you can ensure you get your exact dietary needs from a replicator, but would remain popular.

There will also of course be a running market for new food XPs; the most incredible dessert in the world will grow old after experiencing it in the exact same way 40 or 50 times. Foodcast subscriptions from prominent connoisseurs I could see being popular. In PC space DRM on food XPs would certainly be a thing, possibly coupled with limits on how many times they could be run.

LatwPIAT LatwPIAT's picture
I suspect that the food

I suspect that the food industry in EP is booming. Coupernica Machines and Fabbers are capable of producing foodstuffs, but the examples given are "a bowl of cereal", which makes me suspect that they're best at making food pastes (cereal is usually hardened grain paste). In particular, protein strands, amino acids, and hydrocarbon chains are far easier to manufacture than parts of a once-living animal, even in blocks. Not to mention that coming out of the nanofactory, the food-pastes would probably be lukewarm.

Actually making the food taste better and be more appetizing than a raw protein block would be a skill, which means there's an opportunity to get paid for doing skilled work. Especially with space being expensive, it might be a situation similar to New York where a lot of apartments simply don't have a kitchen, so people are forced to go out and eat unless they want to eat raw protein blocks. (That said, I also suspect that cooking is a valued skill some but not all people have, and that auto-kitchens capable of turning nutrient pastes into slightly more appealing meals are a thing. Not to mention robots with cooking skillware.)

@-rep +2
C-rep +1

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
So, as a prole on a budget,

So, as a prole on a budget, instead of avoiding those eating shows because they make my gruel seem even less appetizing, I would be searching out those shows to make my gruel more appetizing?

The use of XPs quickly ends up creating the exact 'question reality' issues that makes this game philosophically interesting. How well are people able to use XP's consciously to avoid their own drudgery? If they are too successful, they will start to question their own perceptions, not successful enough and they won't be tricked into eating their fabber paste just because popular X-Caster so and so ate something delicious once (or regularly streams it, case per case).

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Hey chummer could i interest

Hey chummer could i interest you in this chip? reality will seem cheap and artificial after you try it? first one is free on me. gives you a good 20 minutes. Want to try?

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
BTL's man... one helluva

BTL's man... one helluva habit to kick!

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.