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Clean your plate!

Sunday 8 January 2012

New year, new challenges.

In case you didn’t know, I sometimes (cough, choke) play MMOs. One common feature of MMOs is that they have a long list of tasks usually known as “achievements” (in the vernacular, “cheevos”). One gets points in the game, which usually amount to nothing more than bragging rights, but sometimes a pet or riding mount. Yelp has a similar concept, known as badges, although the requirements for the Yelp badges are not disclosed ahead of time. In either case, it’s a neat perk; you’re out slaying monsters, or exploring, or (in the case of Yelp) checking in at shops and restaurants, and this little surprise pops up on your screen.

Last year I started rolling my own personal cheevos. The main one last year was related to OSF: to see every first preview of every show. This looked imperiled when the Bowmer Theater went down for repairs, but was still completed. We are doing similar cheevos based on OSF this year; I want to do the first previews again, and add all of the closings that we can. I think all of the closings is not possible, as some of them run simultaneously at the end of the season in different theaters, but we’ll do something that seems to make sense. All of the Elizabethans, for sure. Someone else might want to do all the Green Shows, for example; that would be a cool achievement.

But I digress. Here’s a roll-your-own achievement that you can do at home, on your own schedule (mostly): the never-eat-the-same-thing-twice achievement. Here’s how it goes (I think; I’ve changed the rules twice recently):

  • Pick a restaurant that you dine at regularly (once a week is good, you might get by with less depending on the size of their menu)
  • Eat every item on their menu.

That’s the basic gist. I call this basic achievement The Omnivore, and award one point for each meal eaten that qualifies for. You can’t get credit more than once per menu item, so when you’ve met the requirements, move on!

Additional cheevos based on this underlying goal. In MMO parlance, these are known as meta-achievements:

  • The Regular: Complete The Omnivore at a restaurant that has at least 52 items on its regular, printed menu.
  • Fussy Eater: Eat at a given restaurant at least once a week for a year, and never eat the same dish twice.
  • The Locavore: Do The Omnivore at restaurants that are locally owned and operated and within 5 miles of where you either work or live.
  • Chamber of Commerce: Do The Locavore for at least 5 restaurants.
  • Expense Account: Do Locavore and Fussy Eater for at least 3 restaurants.
  • Pig-Headed: For The Omnivore, every meal (not item) must include a pig-sourced ingredient.
  • More Fish in the Sea: For Fussy Eater, eat at least six fish specials (you’ll get all the regular fish dishes from The Omnivore). This only applies to scaly fishes, not shellfish or mollusks, and only to items not on the regular printed menu, can be an entrée or appetizer.
  • Calling Foul: Same as More Fish, but for birds. This includes chicken, duck, goose, quail, and any other item containing meat from Class aves.
  • They’re Good Eaters! For “The Omnivore“, eat items containing turkey meat at least four times. This is an homage to the episode “Giblets for Murray” from Mad About You.
  • Sweet Tooth: Eat at least eight desserts in meeting The Omnivore.

You can come up with your own variants (please send them if you do!) Each of these only applies to a single restaurant, as some of these would be hard to get in combination (Pig-Headed and Expense Account, for example). I’d add some ground rules to keep it even:

  1. “Every item” means all the appetizers (if any), mains, and entree-sized salads.It does not include (or require) side dishes, soups, or specials. The exception here is for Fussy Eater: one has to use specials to fill out the year to avoid repeating dishes. Choose restaurants for that achievements carefully!
  2. “Every item” means an item as listed on the menu. So if an item is two eggs, with a choice of sides (say, bacon, ham, or sausage), and a choice of bread (toast, muffin, etc.), then one only needs to do that line once to count for The Omnivore. Same for dressings and options (adding a protein to a salad, for example). You may not use choices like this to meet Fussy Eater.
  3. “A year”: I think we can define this as “48 weeks” to allow a little margin for holidays, vacations, etc.
  4. All food must be consumed in the restaurant. No fair getting a couple of days of food to go.
  5. All food must be brought to the table by a server. No buffets or cafeterias. It’s okay if you order at a counter and your food is brought out, but not if you get it yourself.
  6. While sharing is encouraged in the cause of experimentation, it doesn’t count for any of this.
  7. Restaurants sometimes change their menus. If an item disappears, you still get credit for it. But that means you need to cover all the new items, too (bwa ha ha!) unless they also disappear.
  8. If you’re allergic or otherwise required not to eat something, don’t! Don’t count it against yourself. Note: “I don’t like liver” is not an adequate excuse. You didn’t like it when you were little, when’s the last time you tried it?
  9. If the predictions of doomsday come true per the Mayan calendar, all cheevos which are satisfied to that point are immediately granted (but you won’t care…)
And the golden rule: you must clean your plate. Send anything back, and the whole meal doesn’t count.

Why am I doing this? About a million years ago I had the usual office worker’s lunch trilemma: bring a sack lunch, eat at the cafeteria, or eat out. For any of these, my lunch group usually fell into a rut of the same set of places and same meals, week after week, year after year, repeat until numb or dead. This is a way to encourage several things:

  • Eating out (support the economy)
  • Eat locally (support local business)
  • Eat different (try different things)

Send your results, or post them and send a link! I’ll be posting my progress weekly; a camera phone is a handy tool for this. And mostly, eat out more, eat different things, and have fun with it!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. cynthia permalink
    Sunday 8 January 2012 12:29 PM

    what a fun challenge! it’s a lot to keep track of though. I think we need to design the iphone app!


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