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Food for thought, or how to feed your players the right way

Let's face it: we gamers tend to eat horribly. Your usual tabletop diet consists of crisps, cookies, soft drinks and a occasional fast food. Perhaps it is time to change it?

I know what you're thinking right now: "has Xathrodox went mad? I don't have time to cook!" If that is so, then it is truly regretable, but fear not - these few recipes are neither hard to use, nor time consuming. Some of them are definetly not, what one might call "healthy food", but they are certainly better than another pack of Cheetos.

For years, since I've begun my adventure with RPG's and tabletop war games, I never even considered eating differently. Until recently however, my stance on junk food on sessions, has changed. You see, one of the players in my new group is a cook, and a damn good one. He often brings all sorts of delicious things to our games. A certain session of "Death on the Reik", which we've played for a whole night in a friend's garden, will always be remembered with fondness, for the delicious chicken breasts, that this fine fellow brought with him, and which were put on grill, along with many other, choice meats.

I'm posting links to various culinary sites and blogs, so feel free to check 'em out and try out various other recipes, that they might have there. I'd also like to point, that I'm not sponsored by any of these sites, but I really wish that I would! It would help with the bills and my plastic crack addiction.

1. Blini (pancakes)

There's nothing better than a plate full of freshly made blins, which are traditional pancakes in slavic countries. You only really need water, eggs, flour and milk to make these babies, plus some kind of filling. I personally love spicy blins, filled with minced meat, cheddar and tomatoes but you can also make them with nutella or fresh fruit. It's a good idea to chop the ready pancakes, after filling them with your choice of goodies, so that they'll become a bite-size treat for all, around the gaming table.

2. Tarator (Balkan cold soup)

Delicious, refreshing and oh-so-easy to make. Tarator is a cold soup, which main ingridient is plain yogurt. Add some dill, a few fresh cucumbers, a spoon of crushed walnuts and you're ready to go! Skip the garlic tough, as RPG's tend to be a social thing, and it's not cool to breathe garlic fumes into other players faces.

3. Spaghetti Carbonara (a timeless classic)

This one's a true classic. Make a full pot of this delicious meal, and your players will stay full for the whole game session, even if you're running a lengthy dungeon crawl. Its preparation time is less than half an hour, and you only really need some pasta, a few garlic cloves (optional, for obvious reasons), some bacon, eggs and cream. It is a truly delicious, easy to make meal and you can't go wrong with it.

4. Chicken bites of various types (delicious and tasty)

Oh yeah, the ultimate party snack can also work wonders on a table, surrounded by funny shaped dice, and monster manuals. Tortilla wraps, chicken, some creamy cheese and lots and lots of spices - these are the basic ingridients of this kind of dish. I personally love 'em hot and spicy, with a nice dip on the side. You can always substitute tortillas with pancakes, but this will lengthen the preparation process. Still, cooking is all about having fun, so maybe spare an extra hour, before a weekend game and make some blin.

5. Shashlik (meat on a stick!)

This one's a traditional, slav dish, perfect for a weekend grill session. You can also make it at home, in your oven, tough you'll probably need to scrape it clean, afterwards. Shashlik consists of a various pieces of marinated meat, skewered on a stick, with addition of vegetables like paprika, onion, eggplant and zucchini. This one's a bit more time consuming to make, but the end results are worth the time and effort, put into them. Always prepare a creamy dip, for it works wonders with the shashlik and don't forget about preparing the meat first, in just the right way. It's often a good idea to let it stay in the marinade for a whole night, before putting it on a grill (or in the oven).

6. Ayran (cold, yogurt-based drink)

It's a well know fact that the RPG players can operate solely on Mountain Dew, but there are alternatives. Ayran is a traditional refreshing drink from Turkey, but it's also very popular in Balkan countries, Greece and Armenia. You only need 3 ingridients: water, yogurt and salt. Fresh cucumber and garlic are optional ingredients, as is crushed mint. Just mix everything in a shaker, or beat in a bowl, and serve in tall glasses. Ayran is wonderfully refreshing and tasty, and a great alternative to soft drinks. Try it out, you won't be dissapointed.

7. Sunflower seeds (author's delight!)

Ok, so it's not a recipe per se. Dried sunflower seeds, covered in salt, are a fantastic snack, for just about any occasion. Watching a football game, reading your favorite book or trying to bash a Troll's head during a session of Warhammer - the addition of sunflower seeds will defintely improve any form of spending one's free time. I personally suggest to always pick up your seeds with salt, they're just better that way, if a bit less healthy.

So there you have it, few ideas on how to improve your tabletop eating habits. In the future I might make a couple more articles like this one, we'll see. As for now, I'll visit my kitchen and prepare a whole bunch of tasty dishes for tommorow, to take with me to work. For there are a few, better and cooler ways to spend your time, than to cook and enjoy the effects of your kitchen labours.

Until next time!


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