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Premise: It's the modern day, and humans have various magical abilities through a runic magic system. One of these abilities, which I'm currently trying to visualize the implications of, is called Hammergate (short for "Hammerspace Gate"). It essentially grants the bearer access to their own 7 foot wide, 7 foot tall, and 3 foot deep pocket dimension that they can open a portal to at will, though only once every 10 minutes (exact cooldown time subject to change). The portal, which is as tall and wide as the pocket dimension itself, stays open for as long as they're within 3 feet of the portal, and anything they put inside there will stay there, in that pocket dimension, until taken out at a later time. Additionally, and crucially to this question, whenever the portal isn't open, time doesn't pass inside that pocket dimension. If you drop a ball inside of it and then quickly close it before it hits the ground, the ball will resume falling to the floor as soon as the portal is re-opened at a later time.

One of the things I realized this allows for is essentially infinite shelf life. You can store something in there indefinitely, and it will never get stale, rot, melt, spoil, or change state in any way whatsoever until you open it up again. And this gave me an idea for a way I could show this impacting the world of my story.

If, hypothetically, there were a food ingredient that would be absolutely delicious, but isn't served in any real restaurant because it's near physically impossible to get the ingredients to the customer before they go bad or noticeably reduce in quality in some other way, then suddenly this pocket dimension storage power would make that possible, at least as a luxury even if the power isn't prevalent enough to make it easily available. But the issue is that I don't know if any such foodstuff exists.

Is there a food ingredient that would be delicious, but goes bad too quickly to be served at a restaurant? Something that time-freezing storage would suddenly make a viable cooking ingredient?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking if there's such ingredient in real life, or want to make it up? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 20 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander In real life. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Sep 20 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ So when you open the pocket dimension, does everything you put in last time fall out? That's how it sounds like with your ball example. Or does it work like the magic bag of holding in videogames? $\endgroup$ – pboss3010 Sep 20 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ What would be interesting with your storage is what happens if you put people in it. It would allow them to avoid having to kill time e.g. during a travel. It would also allow someone to go quite far in the future without ageing. $\endgroup$ – Didier L Sep 20 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ You can violate the laws of physics and you're going to use it to serve dessert? ... okay, I can see that. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 21 at 0:29

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There is a huge number of delicious fruits that are rarely eaten outside the regions they grow because they either don't transport well or go bad way too fast or both.

Examples

Cherimoya : a fruit with a taste that is hard to describe. Citrusy strawberry vanilla pudding does not do it justice. Also called the ice cream fruit for how well it is served chilled, described by a botanist as "the masterpiece of nature" It also goes bad within a few day of picking, bruises from mild handling, and goes bad even if frozen. Restaurants would love cherimoya. Cut it in half, chill it, serve with a spoon. Bam, you've got your most popular dessert with less prep time than a bowl of soup.

Mangosteen: described as the "the queens fruit" with a mild delicious flavor. It can only ripen on the tree, and goes bad quickly after picking. Worse, it spoils with no sign of spoilage until you bite into it.

Jabuticaba: is a sweet fruit that grows directly on the trunk of the trees. Sweet and tangy. In the places it grows it has sales comparable to grapes in the rest of the world, fitting because it tastes like grape candy. But it also starts to ferment within 3-5 days of harvest, so it is not sold outside the areas it grows except in liquor.

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    $\begingroup$ Strawberries and many fruits and vegetables that we think we know. Those that are regularly sold at supermarkets taste very differently and almost entirely devoid of flavor in comparison to varieties which were not cultivated with storage and transportation in mind. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 20 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ I had never heard of cherimoya before, but your description had me sold until I saw what it was called in my native language. I used to have them all the time, and they taste like chewed up dog toys (at least to me). But hey, one man's trash is ... $\endgroup$ – Don Thousand Sep 20 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde The price will be what the market will bear. If a bearer of the Hammergate rune is rare, then the cost will be similar with similarly rare skills. If any high school graduate (or even dropout) can learn it, then it won't be worth much more than a minimum wage + travel costs. Smuggling will be huge though. Border guards will have to be able to determine if someone has a hammergate and then be able to require them to open it for inspection. Otherwise enforcing tariffs on things small enough to fit in a hammergate (also laws on similarly sized illegal items) will be meaningless. $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Sep 20 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ Cashew apple. $\endgroup$ – Spencer Sep 20 at 21:56
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    $\begingroup$ @DonThousand Exactly my thought. We call them "custard apple" and they are... well, not as bad as Durian I suppose. $\endgroup$ – AndreKR Sep 21 at 19:07
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The technology / magic you're describing may well make some foods possible in a restaurant context, but as I see it what you've really created is a form of 'hot freezer', or in other words a system of taking a perfectly prepared hot meal on a plate and storing it AS a hot meal almost indefinitely.

Traditionally most hot buffets use some form of Bain Marie setup to keep the food warm, but that also eventually dries or over-cooks the food. This is why most restaurants cook fresh and to order. This of course takes a lot of staff in a kitchen, all working at unsociable hours, all working under pressure because table 8 is miffed at how long their fillet mignon is taking to come out. Restaurants pride themselves on providing a freshly hot cooked dish, not something that has been sitting in a warmer for hours. So to me the obvious application of this technology is to allow restaurant quality meals to be prepared, plated and stored beforehand.

Imagine (if you will) that your chef and his sous chefs all come in and work 9 to 5; they prepare a given set of meals against the menu and store them in your deep pocket dimension. Then all the waiter has to do when the clientele arrive is take the order and fetch it out of the deep pocket, freshly cooked. If you have enough of these deep pocket dimensions, you can store many of each meal in advance and your chef and his team work the equivalent of an office job for the most part. You can have a smaller team working over a longer hours than just the meal trade hours, and you can probably get away with a smaller kitchen.

You can even buy perishable ingredients on special at the markets and keep them fresh until you need them.

Ultimately, the power of this technology is not so much a meal that was impractical before, but more that you can now serve meals up almost instantly in most cases and your chef and his team don't have to be there when people are eating; they can work normal hours and just keep the meals topped up as needed. You also don't end up with freezer burn on those seasonal cuts of meat and the like that you store for use later in the year. It really is just a perfect form of freezer because it stops entropy, rather than retarding it through the reduction of temperature.

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    $\begingroup$ Spoilage will be an even bigger benefit, milk that never goes bad, fresh fruit and veg that stay fresh forever. food waste will drop like a stone. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 20 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ Go to a Michelin 3-star restaurant. Stock up. Travel to deep-pocketed clients in other cities. Cash up. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 20 at 7:03
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    $\begingroup$ Taking this a whole lot further, I think restaurants as we know them might largely disappear. For a large part, they would be replaced by perfected food delivery. Their social function would be competing with places that do not have their own kitchen at all, instead of having a large stocks of different meals bought elsewhere (possibly distinguishing themselves by stocking up hard to find meals or specialties by top chefs who live far away). Restaurant kitchens will no longer be part of these places, but be stand-alone kitchens for the most part. $\endgroup$ – Jasper Sep 20 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ This is likely also extremely effective for maintaining troop morale of armies, on top of the incredible logistics gains. Imagine an army being able to consume fresh rations where they would normally only be able to eat MREs. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Sep 20 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ By the same token this would work really well for the preservation and transport of ANYTHING sensitive: museums could use this as storage for chemically sensitive materials such as silver and photographs (not to mention the ultimate fireproof, flood-proof, earthquake-proof safe), you could use it to transport delicate instruments or explosives without any concerns over jostling. This would even be the perfect ambulance gurney for trauma victims until they can be transported to an operating room. (You could even use it as a pet carrier on trips!) $\endgroup$ – wordsworth Sep 22 at 17:26
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Truffles.

These things are a nightmare ingredient. They're a rare type of delicious fungus (supposedly - I've never had any and you'll see why shortly), and only a handful of types are actually edible. They're hard to harvest, as they are very picky about where they grow and required trained pigs / dogs to find and dig up.

And here's the nightmare part - they lose flavor like it's a radioactive half-life once dug up. Half the flavor is dead within four days, the rest within the week. Any gourmet restaurant will only serve day-old truffles at most. Preferably these are served within the hour - high-end restaurants have been known to contract truffle farmers to deliver freshly-dug truffles to the restaurant, whereupon they make a limited number of dishes with said truffles and once they run out, they run out. Also, they only grow within a a 3-5 month period, depending on the truffle, (and not the same period mind you) so these dishes can only be served at specific points during the years. Like I said, nightmare ingredient. Unsurprisingly, these things run about the same cost as saffron, the world's most expensive spice.

But thanks to your little time-freezer, these things suddenly become much better. Now you can have minute-old truffles months out of season! And, for your impossible dish, you can now have some all-of-a-kind truffle dish.

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    $\begingroup$ (Nitpick) That's not like a half-life, otherwise only three quarters of the flavor would be gone after a week (or actually, eight days). (Also, a half-life does not necessarily imply fast, hydrogen-3 has a half-life of more than a decade.) $\endgroup$ – Jasper Sep 20 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ Iiiinteresting. Now, I'm assuming the trained hogs are for their sense of smell? What if I told you another ability in this story people can have is a superhuman, wolf-like sense of smell? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Sep 20 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde Wolves can smell truffles. They just aren't used because we haven't domesticated them. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Sep 20 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed what I'm saying is that there are humans who can smell and locate truffles themselves in my world. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Sep 20 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ I used to work at a grocery store. We had truffles once. $999.99 per...pound? I think. It might have been worse, might have been ounce. I know they were there for more than a day, so really nobody knew what they were. $\endgroup$ – Andon Sep 20 at 22:12
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This isn't 100% what you want, but Seafood

Seafood is often best fresh and I've heard that the fishy smell you often get is due to the Fish slowly rotting. Since you have a magic time stopping fridge, you could literally throw live fish into there and then eat it at a later date as fresh as possible.

Stuff like Oysters or Tuna would be very valuable because you could serve it inland and achieve the same freshness as if it was just caught. To get an idea of how valuable this could be, there are restaurants that will get a Helicopter to fly oysters in from the seaside to ensure the food is as fresh as possible.

As a little extra, you would also be able to store Pickled or Fermented things like Wine (not sure if Fermented is the best term) which require many years to make. While some of these foods can be stored indefinitely, Many have a "Best" date where after that the quality of the product will degrade.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem is usually something in reverse, when it comes to wine - the hard part is to not drink it all before the "optimum drinking window" is reached. That window tends to be pretty long, especially for high-quality wine (Château d'Yquem 1811 is supposed to be in window around now), and few wine collectors lament having too much perfectly mature wine. Now, the opposite would be very interesting - storage where time passes faster... $\endgroup$ – gustafc Sep 20 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @gustafc, Re "storage where time passes faster", Great way to kill someone and dispose of the evidence :) $\endgroup$ – ikegami Sep 23 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @gustafc: Easy: throw the wine drinker, not the wine, in the time freezer. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Sep 23 at 8:27
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  • perfectly aged wine. Store in wine cellar until the optimal year, then transfer to stasis. A prestige food worth the cost of handling.
  • fresh sweet corn, field to plate in under 5 minutes. (Lots of produce fits this use, sweet corn is just one example.) Run a timer on the stasis box and downgrade the use of the product after too much hang time with the door open.
  • farm animal semen. No, not directly food, but one of the bigger price items in modern farming. Your prize bull's production never goes bad in storage.
  • all kinds of produce currently bred for shipping durability rather than flavor. Probably not worth it in 7 foot storage increments for most things, but luxury items.
  • ultra-seasonal foods. Fresh wine from shortly after harvest. (Federweisser, a delicacy mostly known in German-speaking countries. I've had it and am not convinced, but apparently it drives culinary tourism in some places.) Flower garnishes. Regional delicacies.
  • I'm skeptical about hot cooked foods, but prepped ingredients would be a huge way to ensure freshness while smoothing out the labor curve.
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    $\begingroup$ I'm with you on ultra-seasonal foods, but I am skeptical of "Fresh wine from 2 days after harvest". This is usually called "grape juice", and has very few of the qualities which make good wine good. :P $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Sep 20 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ @xander Henderson added explanation and link; the name "young wine" is more common. $\endgroup$ – arp Sep 20 at 14:21
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Normal Fruits

Shelf life and transportation damages are serious concerns for normal everyday fruits - strawberries, cantaloupes, bananas, you name it. As a result, farmers and food scientists attempt to create varieties of these fruits that stay fresh longer and are resistant to bruising.

With your magic pocket closet, these fruits never need to be jostled in a truck, and they can be eaten within a few minutes of being picked. Now, growers are able to concentrate a taste.

They will selectively breed their crop to focus almost exclusively on taste.

(ease of growth and harvest will play in too, but for the high end market they will be willing to put in the extra effort.)

So come up with some new names for the exquisite varieties of strawberry, and blueberry, and melon that people will create, and go do town.

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  • $\begingroup$ Either that, or they'll breed based on color, shape, and size... $\endgroup$ – Kat Sep 22 at 4:28
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Baked Alaska.

Basically, ice cream wrapped in pastry and meringue, run into the oven just long enough to brown the meringue. If you don't eat it in a few minutes, the outside melts the inside.

There's a version that's served flambe. Imagine you're having a dinner party, you open up your hammergate and pull out a dessert that's already on fire.

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Cooked Food.

The chef prepares a perfect filet mignon with pan fried baby vegetables and shoves it in storage. He then does a pan seared salmon and stores it. Ditto for all the deserts.

You walk into the restaurant and order. The waiter walks out the back, grabs it from storage and hands you a perfectly cooked, piping hot freshly made meal. The difference is the chef works 9 to 5 in China and made the meal three weeks ago.

You can order a fresh New York pizza from New York or any of the finest foods from anywhere in the world.

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Fancy

You could exaggerate the spoiling time of almost anything you have to gather. You can even make something up that spoils within seconds. Most people wouldn't know this fruit because it won't be used in the kitchen and the price would be enormously (so perfect for luxury restaurants) because you can only get a few of them every ten minutes per human.

Realistically

Even vegetables from your garden taste quite differently to vegetables you get at the supermarket because of the long transportation and the used preservatives (preservatives also cost money).

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    $\begingroup$ I pity anyone who's never had a real tomato. The one's you can buy in the store have been bred for transport; thicker skin, never ripens, tastes like a tin can. Ones from a garden can taste almost like a strawberry, or the best apple you've ever had... because they're fruit. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 21 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Mazura - Actually, I think it's the cooling which does it. The store tomatoes are just as good when plucked as the ones in your home garden, but transportation and storage necessarily involves cooling them, and that destroys most of the flavor. $\endgroup$ – Vilx- Sep 22 at 16:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Vilx- - "The story of the Garden Gem begins in 1989, when a scientist named Harry Klee was tasked by Monsanto to use GMO technology to produce a slow-ripening tomato. The hope was that if tomatoes could be picked almost ripe, instead of green, they would be luscious and delicious by the time they made it to store shelves." $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 22 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ "you will not find the perfect supermarket tomato in any supermarket. Not now, and perhaps not ever. [...] It's not because some multinational owns the patent and won't release it in the U.S. (which, unfortunately, is the case with a superb British potato called the Mayan Gold). It's because Big Tomato doesn't care about flavor. Tomato farmers don't care. Tomato packers don't care. And supermarkets don't care." – businessinsider.com $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 22 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ We've been over this at Seasoned Advice - Talking about "store tomatoes" like that suggests they only sell one variety. If they do, it's going to be the cheap variety. But a decent supermarket ought to have several varieties, if not more. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Sep 23 at 8:36
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Don't think of this technology as changing ingredient availability.
Think of it as changing agriculture.

There are many ingredients now that would qualify, as evidenced by the answers so far. Plant and animal foods that deteriorate quickly upon harvesting. Plus luxury goods that are hard to source.

And a large part of the advantage of this technology is seasonality. Most climates can grow fresh sweet corn and great heirloom tomatoes, but they're only perfectly ripe for a couple of months, tops. I can grow (and have grown) amazing tomatoes in my backyard but, even in my Mediterranean climate with early planting and an extended fall growing season, at least half the year I have to go without.

Tomatoes make a good example because they're an ingredient people insist on year-round no matter what and they're used in huge quantities, at least in the United States. It's not just that most Americans don't know what a real tomato tastes like (most restaurants serve the tasteless version even in the height of summer) but the demand led to actual modern-day slavery in the US, in an area that produced "Ninety-percent of all winter tomatoes consumed in the US." (another ref)

Eliminate the dual issues of seasonality and transport and now any farmer in a semi-suitable growing zone can offer tomatoes year-round. They'd still mostly probably be the less exciting varieties, as burger places and other restaurants will still value uniform size, shape, and color, and they'd still need them to be determinate varieties (that ripen all at once) to make best use of the storage locker.

Then there are ingredients that grow much better (and tastier) in particular parts of the world. Sometimes very hard to reach places. Now those places can specialize. Foods like chicle and agave aren't really grown wildly but foods like wild salmon and other wild fish have massive growing operations extending their natural range with fish farms). Storage lockers won't change the demand, but they can extend the reach of lesser used fish (like bluefish, which only lives in the Atlantic and does not transport well).

Monoculture is already huge but it would become even bigger (this is not a good thing). Part of the reason for it is that time is normal every time you open the storage locker. An hour here and there can add up. And, sadly, fish farms will likely become even bigger, as their transport ranges can expand.

The biggest change though will be in storage as a commodity.

147 cubic feet (5.4 cubic yards, 4.2 cubic meters) is not a lot of space (for reference, the bed of a full size standard pickup...loaded level full...will hold 2.5 cubic yards). Oh it's fine for personal use, but most people in the world will need to make a living from it. We'd see a fair rise in entrepreneurship (small farmers, even backyard farmers, selling out-of-season produce, chefs selling pre-made meals, and so on) but mostly this is something large companies will exploit.

Harvesters will be a new job category. People who are paid to travel to fields (or fishing boats or slaughterhouses, etc) to load up their lockers. Then paid to unload them in specific places. This will minimize the time the load has to age (or change temperature). These smaller loads could service one popular McDonalds or a block's worth of restaurants.

Use of lockers wouldn't eliminate the fuel waste of shipping refrigerated product (milk on its way to a processing facility, for example, goes in tractor trailers with 7,000 to 8,000-gallon tanks (that's 34.7 to 39.7 cubic yards and would take 8 harvesters at full capacity) and the larger loads are more efficient if fuel costs stay the same. But it would reduce it. Shipping packaged milk, for example, makes more sense using harvesters going to individual stores and opening their lockers inside the refrigerators.

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  • $\begingroup$ Given that in my story's magic system, the only reason someone wouldn't have this power is if there were 5 or 6 more powers they found more worth keeping, would you find it a safe bet to say nearly everyone working in this industry would have it for work purposes unless there were something even more useful? Would it be realistic to depict this power impacting agriculture on the scale you describe? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Sep 22 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde Those are good questions. I think, yes, there would be widespread changes in agriculture based on this tech (or magic). It would probably take a few years though; change is very expensive to implement. I'd guess that medium-sized growers (ones without their own supply chains) selling popular crops (like slicing tomatoes, which are also crops that do not do well with repeated handling or being in huge piles) would be the first to change over. This would also allow more isolated growers to be competitive, since they just have to transport a dozen workers vs a tractor-trailer. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 22 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ As for your first bit; that wasn't part of the original question (nor should it have been as it would have made your question too broad). So I didn't address it. Remember the vast majority of people in the world live at subsistence levels. This sort of work is open to people with disabilities, the elderly, youth, & others who can't do hard labor. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 22 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ The people who load & unload goods don't have to be the same as the ones whose storage lockers are being used, though it can be a bonus to employers if they are. So yeah, tons of people would be willing to give up personal use of their lockers in order to earn a living. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 22 at 17:43
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I hear that the most delicious treat in a world with Hammerspace Gates is the pupea of the eetemupicus moth. The moth lives on a remote island chain in the middle of the ocean. The live on the eastern slopes of the mountains that form the chain. Efforts to raise them elsewhere have failed.

The adventurers that have traveled to the island and tasted them, say the pupea are great alone or as an ingredient in any dish that calls for meat or vegetables.

The problem is that there is only a 3-5 minute window where the pupea is absolutely perfect. Any time outside this window and the pupea ranges from disgusting to downright toxic.

Reservations on the ship that takes tourists there is booked solid 6 years in advance, so plan ahead.

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