An analysis of all the food and drink in WoW

Not long ago, a friend of mine from college asked me to resurrect his WoW account so he could get back into the game before Cataclysm comes out. The first week that he was back, he messaged me quite frequently with various questions about trends in raiding and PvP at level 80. I answered his questions without much thought until one afternoon, he sent me a different type of message.

"Did you notice there is nothing but meat in WoW?"

My thoughts stumbled over the question for a moment before he continued. "There is meat, fish and fruit, but no vegetables." (My friend became vegan since the last time he played WoW -- thus his sudden epiphany.) He then proceeded to tell me about a quest in Teldrassil where you gather spider meat for a kabob recipe. He said something along the lines of, "They're on a big freakin' tree, full of plants and they're eating spiders! Spiders!"

I'll admit, he had a good point. Curious, I decided to start looking over the types of food in WoW to see just exactly what Azerothians eat.

The chart above is based on the Food and Drinks section of Wowhead's consumables database. Some things to take note of:

  • Fish includes shellfish.

  • Stews, chili and gumbos were counted toward whatever their predominant ingredient was (usually meat or seafood).

  • Pumpkins are technically a fruit and were counted as such. (With that in mind, tubers are not really vegetables, but I grouped them together to ease up clutter.)

  • Bowels 'n' Brains counted toward miscellaneous food, and Bitter Plasma to miscellaneous beverages.

  • Pet food such as Kibler's Bits and Critter Bites were not counted.

  • Conjured mage food and water were counted.

  • I forgot to add in gray items. Alas, no Bag of Popcorn!

While we're still on the topic of spiders, I thought I'd mention that when my friend told me about the spider quest in Teldrassil, I immediately thought of questing in Duskwood and gathering spider legs for Dusky Crab Cakes. I decided to look up more spider recipes, and I was surprised to find there are only four spider recipes in the game. I guess they're just memorable quests.

The whole thing left me wondering, who actually eats spiders? Urban legends aside, Cambodians, apparently. Believe it or not, I had a harder time finding real world instances of spider eating than in WoW. Granted, Azeroth has some pretty big spiders.

Anyway, that all said, if you've been playing WoW for any amount of time, it shouldn't be shocking that meat and seafood are the most available foods in the game. Actually, 43% is much lower than I expected, especially since almost all the buff food in WoW is made from meat. (The few exception come in the form of holiday consumables, like Hot Apple Cider.)

I'm not going to begin to compare food in Azeroth to a human food pyramid, but I am curious what possessed the design team to add in so much meat. Are the designers a bunch of bacon-loving boys who just didn't think to add in more gastronomic diversity, or was there a conscious decision to go with all that protein? Obviously meat is an easier ingredient to gather to most players when we're already killing a lot of beasts and monsters, but wouldn't complex carbohydrates make for better buff food since they keep you sated for the longest amount of time? When we quest, we do plenty of gathering errands for NPCs as it is; wouldn't it make sense that we'd be able to gather food for buff items? I know this isn't a Harvest Moon MMO, but I wouldn't mind pulling up some potatoes if I'm going to have to be doing gathering quests anyway. It's not like fishing is any more exciting, right?

Regardless of where the ingredients are coming from, the lack vegetables in an untamed world like Azeroth is still very puzzling. In a frozen wasteland like Northrend it's understandable, but there are no excuses for Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Why do the majority of vegetables I counted in the chart above come in the form of night elf Kimchi? Kimchi is hardly what I think of when I imagine fresh salad or veggie stir fry. I would think if we are chomping down on Healing Herbs and tubers, we could come up with some asparagus or green beans on occasion too. Alas, I guess all those fields we see in the various zones are reserved exclusively for growing grapes and grains for Azeroth's booze habit. (Seriously, 12%? Our characters are all lushes.)

These are the "vegetables" I found:

No carrots, onions, spinach -- not even broccoli! What do tauren force their children to eat before they get dessert? To be fair, though, there are carrots in the game (multiple carrots, in fact.) You gather them for one of the Dalaran cooking dailies, but since they're a quest item, they can't be eaten. It makes me wonder if the NPCs are hoarding all the greens from us.

In Cataclysm, I don't expect to see any more greens, sadly. Not that I'm advocating Blizzard spend precious development time designing the expansion with the dietary habits of orcs in mind, but it would be cool to get a little more flavor back in the game world. In the old world cities, you see this a little: The Undercity innkeeper, for example, sells mushrooms while the night elves in Moonglade sell other Asian-inspired dishes. I wonder what kind of foods the goblin and worgen races will feature?

Well, whatever happens, I know that while writing this post I have become appropriately hungry. It's that Roasted Quail icon: always makes me salivate. Maybe I'll go look for a place where I can order Shinsollo.