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View Full Version : Sharp teeth and proper eating


WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 12:56 AM
I have a character or ten that have, instead of normal human teeth, very sharp, pointed ones. These are not to be confused with vampire fangs. The best description I can come up with so far would be akin to maybe pirahnas, but the same *size* overall as human teeth. My question is, how would they eat? They are not animals, so would never simply tear into a piece of meat and swallow it whole. They are far more refined than that, and eat what anyone else would. How realistic would this be?

veinglory
10-29-2007, 01:00 AM
Most animals with pointed teeth stil have molars at the back to chew with. The main difference is likely to be that they can't take of bites from the front but tend to use sheering teeth at the side to bite a bit off before chewing it.

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 01:12 AM
In real life perhaps, but not in my stories :( How would they eat if they *don't* have molars?

veinglory
10-29-2007, 01:16 AM
Without chewing, I presume? It would probably look rather unpleasant because even if down with a closed mouth large items would be gulped down the throat. The only main alternatuve would be to cut things very small and just swallow them.

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 01:39 AM
Alright then. If they do indeed need molars, how would I describe it? The first six or so being sharp, the ones that you'd actually see while talking, and just make the assumption the back ones are flat? I'm not even entirely sure I'd ever end up writing a scene with him eating or not, so maybe it's not relevant... :e2bummed:

veinglory
10-29-2007, 01:46 AM
You wouldn't need many molars and they likely couldn't be seen easily from the outside.

illiterwrite
10-29-2007, 01:48 AM
Well, babies can eat with no teeth at all, so I think your guys would just adapt. Maybe they grind up meat before eating it.

job
10-29-2007, 01:54 AM
Umm ... find the nearest dog or cat and watch them tuck into it ...

Basically, if your toothy folks want to eat neatly, I'd think the food would be chopped into small bits before it got to them. Then tweezers or chopsticks or something.

veinglory
10-29-2007, 01:58 AM
You could have dog like teeth condense into a human mouth and still chew with mouth closed in a reasonably normal manner. But they have some shearing and chewing teeth. All-pointed teeth is more like some reptiles and fish and makes for more messy eathing unless the food is pre-pureed somehow.

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 02:02 AM
Hmm... *frowns* I just can't see them having to do that, cut everything up small like they were little children. :( Perhaps going back to the "rip tear shred" mode would be better. If they had a giant hunk of leg meat, they could eat it the same way we do, (like KFC) just sans the chewing part. Then it wouldn't matter much. So when you'd get a slice of something like ham, they'd eat something straight from the bone. Is that right? The one character is royalty, so getting this right would be important.

(edit - one of the other chars is a demon, so he wouldn't give two thoughts about eating "messily")

veinglory
10-29-2007, 02:06 AM
I think a character with all pointed teeth like this could certainly learn to eat in a way that looked similar to other people if s/he wanted to. Just take small bites and use the tongue to break them up enough to swallow.

job
10-29-2007, 03:19 AM
Hmm... *frowns* I just can't see them having to do that, cut everything up small like they were little children.

... or like the many groups who eat with chop sticks.

It strikes folks of many cultures as odd that Westerners pull out knives and cut their food up at the table, rather than having this done in the kitchen by the cook.

Are you asking how these folks would eat if confronted with 2007 cookery at a restaurant, or how they'd manage their own accustomed food at home?

Their accustomed food, in their own home, they'd probably eat like the pure predator they are -- hold it down, tear off stripes, swallow big chunks whole -- and wash the blood off afterwards.

Why wouldn't they? That is their politeness. The eat like lions. Humans eat like apes.

Maybe try Googlevideo 'lion AND eating' or 'tiger AND eating' or 'hyena AND eating'

In a restaurant they'd do what you do in any foreign culture -- stick to stuff that's easy to eat. Cut it small and swallow it whole. Pate. Chicken nuggets. Jello.

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 03:41 AM
Humans eat like apes? I'm afraid I must say that I have never, in my personal experience, ever come across this particular event. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but not in most circumstances.

As i've mentioned, this person is of the royal family. Simply "eat like predators and wash the blood of later" would never happen. Just because they have sharp teeth doesn't make them animals, or even predators. It makes their *ancestors* predators. If you were take this char out of his normal setting and place him into a jungle somewhere, forcing him to survive by any means, then yes, perhaps then he'd become more of a predator again.

I eat with a fork, so the majority of the time, my characters will as well. It's simply the most obvious thing that comes to my mind when I write. My settings are usually very akin to Victorian, if you would. But they are entirely fictional fantasy, and not 20th/21st century. More 16th, perhaps. This character is cultured, as predatory as he may appear. This is why something as mundane as eating is so important for me to get right.

The other character, the demon, is very much a pure, no-holes-bared predatory killer, whose face you'd expect to be dripping with blood afterwards. This character? Not a chance.

If it strikes people as "odd" that I prefer a fork to a chopstick, all I can do is shrug and say "oh well". I would never think to have the prince eat something like jello.

waylander
10-29-2007, 03:42 AM
In real life perhaps, but not in my stories :( How would they eat if they *don't* have molars?

You don't need teeth to eat a Big Mac

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 03:45 AM
How would you know? Have you actually tried it? :ROFL:Mmm....gumming down a mcburger... I just dont see that as appetizing :tongue

Shweta
10-29-2007, 03:58 AM
Um, royalty ate pretty messily in many time periods.

If it's real royalty, whatever the king does is right. People without sharp teeth would be working on eating properly messily.

I think you're stuck on western-european modern ideas of what's polite. You might want to look at traditional notions in other cultures. In some parts of the world it's impolite to eat quietly and neatly because that implies you're not properly enjoying the food, for example.

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 04:06 AM
See, this is the thing. While I understand that different people do different things, in any time period, this is still fiction. I can take most of what, say, England was like in X timeline, while completely and utterly doing the opposite in everything else. Which is what I do. They may wear similar clothing, ride horses, live in castles, etc, but one thing he doesn't do is eat sloppy. The King's a nut, and is obsessed about cleanliness. To do otherwise is to be no better than the commoners he considers to be less than worthless. While he's not *exactly* the norm, it still happens. Many of the royals I write about are quite prim and proper, regardless of their real life counterparts.

WillowArcane
10-29-2007, 04:21 AM
Edit: I think i've gotten the answers I was looking for, so thanks a bunch! :) I'll probably just do a sharp-front-molared-back idea, something that's just implied or assumed rather than made an issue of, so they can eat pretty much normally if required. I just wanted to ensure it would be believable, and I think that probably will be.

WittyandorIronic
10-29-2007, 09:14 AM
I read some sci-fi that had a similar concept, and the author handled it by making it cultural to eat alone, in the dark, things like that. I am not sure if this is historical, or fantasy, but either way if he is king I am sure he would just do what suits him, and bedamned the rest. If that meant his cook only made soups, well, so be it. lol. So whatever you go for, do it with royal/cultural panache and people will buy it.

Saanen
10-30-2007, 12:29 AM
See, this is the thing. While I understand that different people do different things, in any time period, this is still fiction. I can take most of what, say, England was like in X timeline, while completely and utterly doing the opposite in everything else. Which is what I do. They may wear similar clothing, ride horses, live in castles, etc, but one thing he doesn't do is eat sloppy.

That's fine, and certainly your perogative. But I have to wonder why you're saddling your people with sharp teeth and then not allowing the teeth to change the way they behave while eating. Why give them sharp teeth, then?

I recommend you watch a cat eat a piece of chicken. My cats are quite neat, but they have those sharp teeth in front. They have to "scissor" bites off by turning their heads and using their (still pretty sharp) molars. If I cut the meat up, they are completely tidy. They just don't have incisors like people do.

Keep in mind also that sharp teeth/no incisors develop for a reason, which is to catch and hold prey. Are your sharp-teethed people largely carnivorous? They ought to be.

GeorgeK
10-31-2007, 08:18 PM
As long as you have lips and a tongue to hold the food in and position it, you can chew with your incisors. Ask anyone who's had all their wisdom teeth extracted on the same day. It might take them a little longer, but then, they are just being polite at the table.

Melisande
11-01-2007, 01:23 AM
Humans eat like apes? I'm afraid I must say that I have never, in my personal experience, ever come across this particular event. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but not in most circumstances.

As i've mentioned, this person is of the royal family. Simply "eat like predators and wash the blood of later" would never happen. Just because they have sharp teeth doesn't make them animals, or even predators. It makes their *ancestors* predators. If you were take this char out of his normal setting and place him into a jungle somewhere, forcing him to survive by any means, then yes, perhaps then he'd become more of a predator again.

I eat with a fork, so the majority of the time, my characters will as well. It's simply the most obvious thing that comes to my mind when I write. My settings are usually very akin to Victorian, if you would. But they are entirely fictional fantasy, and not 20th/21st century. More 16th, perhaps. This character is cultured, as predatory as he may appear. This is why something as mundane as eating is so important for me to get right.

The other character, the demon, is very much a pure, no-holes-bared predatory killer, whose face you'd expect to be dripping with blood afterwards. This character? Not a chance.

If it strikes people as "odd" that I prefer a fork to a chopstick, all I can do is shrug and say "oh well". I would never think to have the prince eat something like jello.

So, if you have a royalty with pointed teeth, why bother about how other people eat? I would simply suggest the MC to use the fork (or whatever), let the food turn in the mouth a couple of times to savor the taste and then swallow.

DANG (shouldn't have said that, should I?), when you have developed a character that is most likely out-of-worldly, then it is really up to you to also develope the etiquette required to be regal.

Why be innovative in one aspect, and stay conservative in the other?