How I Play: Food

Pretty much every social gathering must address the question of sustenance: sooner or later, everyone’s got to eat. Do we do it beforehand, each on our own? Do we go our separate ways or split into small groups and get something afterwards? Or do we make eating together part of whatever we’ve made the effort and taken the time to get together for in the first place? Roleplaying is no different, and the choice any given group makes here is as much a part of their private game culture as their choice of game, approach to GM fiat or house rules, or customs regarding off-game talk at the table.

I don’t have a stable gaming group. Instead, I have a dozen or so friends I roleplay frequently with, of whom any given campaign will include a few; each campaign is a unique group, set up by invitation by the GM. And although we all know each other and most of us have played with each other repeatedly, each group ends up with idiosyncratic customs. When it comes to food, though, we’ve gravitated towards a sort of standard model: some or most of us bring snacks to share, typically something I end up eating more of than I’d prefer, and at some point we order some kind of delivery.

Sometimes, though, we’ve managed to agree on one or more players cooking for the whole group, and it’s never been a disappointment. Some years ago, I played in a D&D campaign composed of some of these same regulars, and we’d take turns cooking, typically with one of us fixing up a main course and another bringing some kind of dessert. The fare ranged from chili dogs to duck confit; the wife of one of the players would tell him “bon appetit” before he left to go to the game, that’s how devoted we were. It wasn’t the best roleplaying game I’ve ever played in, but I never wanted to miss a session. In some other campaigns, I’ve occasionally prepared something thematically appropriate to the game in question, too: mutton skewers and Lapsang souchong for a Gates of Mournwater session involving a band of nomads from the steppe, or coffee and donuts for a jokey homebrew about bad cops I used to run. And some kind of decent red wine was de rigeur in the Vampire campaign I played in last year.

When I was preparing to run the Sleepless Nights prologue session, I thought about the boost to camaraderie those well-prepared meals gave, and about the nauseous, bloated feeling I get from stuffing myself with snacks at the table – something I can’t seem to prevent myself from doing at the game table, even though I’m pretty moderate overall – and I decided I would definitely want to make sure there would be food, and that it would have a positive effect on the game.

kiwi-avocado-salad-ingredients

I made a salad for us, from the ingredients pictured above; yeah, this is a roleplaying blog post with a recipe in it. A salad for 4:

Ingredients

  • 1/3 watermelon
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cosmopolitan lettuce
  • 3 avocados
  • 3 kiwifruit
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 6 eggs
  • 400 grams (just under a pound) of feta
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • generous splash of olive oil

Preparation

  • Boil the eggs fairly hard, and chop them up into small cubes.
  • Chop the onion, not too fine.
  • Mix the eggs, onion, honey and vinegar.
  • Peel the fruit, and cut them and all the vegetables into suitably-sized chunks.
  • Crush the feta with your fingers.
  • Mix everything in a salad bowl.
  • Pour lots of oil on it.

It was pretty good, although I forgot to serve it with balsamico as I had intended.

I’m hoping to make a habit of this with my sessions in the future, but of course it is one more aspect of preparation for a hobby that’s already pretty demanding in that respect. What I’d like most is to have the players (myself included) take turns cooking for the game; we’ll see how that idea goes over.

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