Guides/Cooking for Dummies
My thanks to the glorious chef Roi who very generously gave his time to answer really confused questions while I was working out the fundamentals of cooking, and encouraged me to document what wasn't clear to me from the Wiki. This guide is the result of that process. Thanks also to Hanjo who did up the math for the calculators.
The Foundation of this Guide
Cooking in ATITD is great. It gives you stats! Who doesn't want to be able to run faster, carry more, or get more from a hookah? Everyone should be able to do it.
People who want to learn to cook are most commonly referred to the Recipes page for example recipes, and to the famous Ariella and Pascalito's Cooking Tutorial to learn about how recipes work and to learn how to craft your own. People who excel at cooking in ATITD are typically very involved in the science and maths of food ingredients and their combinations, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to chefs like this. Without them, we would have no food and would long ago have starved to death (while running very slowly.)
But for the Dummy Cook, creating recipes is not cooking; creating recipes is advanced wizardry. Cooking is throwing some food in a pot to make a meal. In other words, to make an omelette, I don't need to know the science of an egg's albumin breakdown; I just need to know that for a country omelette, I hardly stir my eggs in the pan at all, and for a classic French omelette, I stir them almost constantly as they cook. (Thanks, Jacques Pippin!)
Most of us do not start out (or ever get to) creating new recipes; we cook from existing recipes on the Wiki. So this guide is for the budding cook who just wants to be able to throw some things together in a pot, feed some people, and not kill everyone in the process.
Step 1: Get Some Cooking Skills
You cannot use a kitchen until you have the Cooking skill. Your cooking level (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7) determines how many ingredients you can cook with. The more ingredients you can use, the sexier the resulting stats will be, and generally the longer the magic of your recipe will last.
So, the more levels you can get the better. At Cooking 4, some nice recipes with attractive stats open to you, so it is worth getting this skill level if you can!
Step 2: Understand Recipe Fundamentals
Recipes are made from two parts mixed together: base ingredients and additives. For the purposes of this guide, we're going to say that base provides the bulk and additives provide the magic.
Go look at the Recipes page, which is broken down by Cooking skill level. You will see that for Cooking 1, all of the recipes involve just one kind of "base" ingredient like camel meat or mutton or a single herb. These Cooking 1 recipes also call for just one additive, like one kind of herb or dates or a single mushroom type. Cooking 4 recipes uses four bases, like camel meat and mutton and royal jelly and carrots. You will also see that each recipe for Cooking 4 uses four different additives, normally four different herbs like hazelwort and harebell and bucklers leaf and Dark Ochoa.
Step 3: Understand Serving Calculations
You will also see that any example Cooking 1 recipe calls for 6 debens of base (like 6 mutton) and 1 deben of additive (like 1 leek), for a recipe totaling 7 deben of ingredients. This makes one serving of food, because a single serving of any meal is always 7 debens.
"Oh great," you're probably thinking, "so if I want 10 servings, I just need to multiply those ingredients times 10. I'll go put in 60 mutton and 10 leeks..."
No. Nothing in ATITD is that easy!
Remember: the base provides the bulk; the additives provide the magic. To add additional servings, you add more base. You NEVER add more additives.
So, a Cooking 1 recipe might look like this for different serving amounts:
|6 mutton||1 leek||7||1|
|69 mutton||1 leek||70||10|
|349 mutton||1 leek||350||50|
And a Cooking 4 recipe might look like for different serving amounts:
|6 Dates, 6 Oyster Meat, 6 Mutton, 6 Camel Meat||1 Thyme, 1 Morpha, 1 Sagar Ghota, 1 Dusty Blue Sage||28||4|
|20 Dates, 20 Oyster Meat, 20 Mutton, 20 Camel Meat||1 Thyme, 1 Morpha, 1 Sagar Ghota, 1 Dusty Blue Sage||84||12|
|87 Dates, 87 Oyster Meat, 87 Mutton, 87 Camel Meat||1 Thyme, 1 Morpha, 1 Sagar Ghota, 1 Dusty Blue Sage||352||50|
Sometimes a recipe calls for more than 1 of each additive, and that's fine (and there's a calculator below to help you cope with that) but don't go multiplying additives in an attempt to get more servings. Just use the exact number of additives indicated in the recipe and expand your base to get more servings.
These serving calculations become complicated for those of us who are math challenged and are trying to figure out "OK, I know I'm only using a set number of additives, but how much of each base do I need in order to make 10 servings? Or 50? or 300?" or whatever your goal is. Luckily, there is a calculator.
Step 4: Ready, Set, SINK!
Before you eat any meal, you must first eat a helping of Sink Food. The fact that you need a pot for mandatory sink food and a pot for real food is the reason anyone cooking has at least two kitchens. Why? Because if you don't, you will contibutw towards broken herbs, and a Very Bad Thing will happen:
Eating food made with herbs without eating sink first food diminishes the potency of that herb in all future recipes for everyone all across Egypt. This effective is cumulative, so the more people who do it, the more a specific herb will be diminished. DO NOT BREAK HERBS!
Seriously, people: SINK FOOD FIRST.
Sink food works on the exact same 7 debens per serving math as regular food.
The cheapest, easiest sink food is made from nothing but camel meat and honey. Both are plentiful and easily obtained. Interestingly, it doesn't matter what proportion you mix them in; if you want 37 servings of sink food, you can mix 258 camel and 1 honey, or 258 honey and 1 camel, or 130 of one and 129 of the other. The only thing that matters is that the two amounts not be exactly the same. (Why? Because the science we're not looking at says so.)
Sink Food Calculator
That's it. Sink food is easy, and there's even a calculator to help you figure out how much of each ingredient to put in to reach the number of servings you need.
Step 5: Cook Some Grub
Once your sink food is made in one kitchen, you're ready to make your regular food in your second kitchen. Look at the recipes on the Recipes page for your cooking level. Sort by the column that's most important to you. If you want to run faster off-road, choose something with a good DEX number. If you want to run faster on-road, choose something with as big a SPEED number as you have ingredients for. If you need to haul a lot of stuff, you want STRENGTH and DEX food. If you need endurance for flax processing you want END food, and if you need hookah food you want CON.
Step 6: This Has All Gone Horribly, Horribly Wrong
The biggest thing new cooks trip over is not reviewing all of the stats for a given recipe. (Ask me how I know...) It is great to make food with DEX of 5 or 18 or whatever to run fast, but if that recipe also has negative strength, you're not going to be able to carry anything, and may be unable to move with the items you've already got until you drop some.
If the recipe looks good for all the stats you need but something unexpected and unwelcome has happened, it is likely your recipe proportions were wrong. Click your kitchen, choose Show the Recipe, and check your ingredients and math for both your sink food and your main meal.
To fix this situation quickly, eat your sink food again on its own or eat some grilled cabbage. Both will reset your stats. Throw the pot of bad food against the wall and start over. Welcome to the joy of cooking!
Step 7: Advanced Gastronomy
If you enjoy cooking, it is worth it to get to Gastronomy 7. This skill will let you examine a cooked dish with a new "Critically Evaluate this Food" option when you click your kitchen. This will give you all the stats on your food and also tell you how long it will last. For reasons I don't understand because I am not a wizard, old recipes on the wiki are now more potent, so you may actually be getting better time or better stats increases than the ones listed for what you're cooking. Fun!