While I’ve talked a good bit about the important part food can play at your gaming table, today I want to suggest to you three resources I use when building food into my gaming sessions. There is a tonne of food/nerd crossover out there, and a quick Google search will definitely turn up more avenues to explore. But these three resources are ones I return to consistently, for their depth of information and their all-round utility. I think you should check them out.
What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank – Aimed at writers of fantasy fiction, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank is a well-researched and entertainingly written look at the realities of fantasy cooking and food, by author Krista D. Ball. Krista does a fantastic job of explaining aspects of both obtaining and cooking food that we take for granted in modern culture. This makes the perfect resource for the game master wanting to add a bit of realism into their fantasy setting. It answers questions like, “Just how hard is it to hunt for game?”, “How do you keep food fresh, or at least edible, in a fantasy setting?” And yes, the book also discusses what was likely on the king’s plate and in the wizard’s tankard. While it is long on history and fact, the book also contains recipes which you can try the next time you’d like to add a bit of verisimilitude to your fantasy cooking, and immerse your players. On top of all that it’s just an entertaining read; Krista is a fantasy writer with years of experience, and that shines through on every page. And if you find you like it, and want something to better inform your steampunk or weird west games, check out her other title, Hustlers, Harlots, and Heroes.
The Geeky Chef – If you’ve seen a food or drink in a popular video game, movie, or television show and wondered how you would make that, The Geeky Chef is the site for you! Filled with recipes from all your favourite fantasy and sci-fi sources, the website is a great resource not just for your next gaming table meal, it’s also filled with themed recipes for your next pop culture potluck or party. Recipes are plentiful and instructions are clearly laid out. And besides recipes lifted directly from pop culture sources (Apple Cabbage Stew from Elder Scrolls, for instance), the site features meals inspired by nerd culture, such as Jurassic Pork Soup. Besides being delicious in their own right, these are a potential source of inspiration for creating dishes to suit your campaign. And let’s not forget the potables! The Geeky Chef has recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to grace your table. Why just tell your players “Giggle Water” is on the menu, after all, when you can have your fantasy innkeeper send over a round for real? An excellent resource for recipes on the fly, and he even has a couple of cookbooks you can pick up to further expand your repertoire.
Binging with Babish – While Binging with Babish covers some of the same territory as The Geeky Chef, this YouTube channel expands to cover all of movies and television, regardless of genre. That makes this an excellent resource for recipes for your non-fantasy games. More than that, each episode is excellent at teaching you how to experiment in the kitchen, as they usually follow the recipe as closely as possible to start, followed by an attempt to improve upon or sometimes fix obvious problems with the recipe. Besides the main video series, there is also a series entitled Basics with Babish, which is a video masterclass in kitchen techniques and skills, covering such topics as chopping skills, what kitchen equipment you need (versus useless gadgets), and how to cook simple, no-frills dishes (so you can move up to more complex dishes later). And because the channel covers a broader range of recipe sources, you get to experiment with recipes from a greater range of cultures, allowing you to add some twists to your gaming table. Or repurpose pop culture recipes for your game; who doesn’t want to serve up a Swanson or a Krabby Patty Supreme to their players?
Those are my three favourite resources for game night cooking. What are some of yours? Share your favourites in the comments. And until next time, happy gaming and happy dining!