Back Pocket Feasts – A New Project

So, many years ago, I was placed in a situation where I and another cook had to come up with a shopping list and most of a menu three days before an event in an unfamiliar place with no idea what had or had not been done in advance. The original cook was ill, so it was completely understandable, but that incident has stuck with me for years. Fortunately, between the two of us, we had a lot of random information running around in our heads and were able to quickly calculate amounts, etc. as well as some supplemental dishes while wandering around the Restaurant Depot.
This is not a normal or common thing and it takes a specific skill set to pull it off.

The other incident that stuck with me was working with my daughter to plan a menu for a “Children’s Lunch” that she was heading up. It was a lot of using websites that I knew about and talking her through the basic ideas of how a course is structured and how to consider the needs of a large amount of food and how that differs from cooking for a small family. There was no real central place to get that information, it was years of experience and random knowledge that I needed to pass along.

I’d been tossing around the idea of “Back Pocket Feasts” for a while. It started out as a book idea where a series of themed multi-course medieval feasts would be offered with original documentation, a recipe for a small number of people, and information about scaling up those amounts based on the size of the crowd you were feeding. My problem was that I didn’t have the resources to test that many recipes and other than just handing off a bunch of recipes, it didn’t really teach you anything. So, good resource, poor teaching tool.

Then yesterday, I saw this Kickstarter for “Competition Kitchen: A Deliciously Creative Party Game“.

Immediately I started to get some ideas about how to make a medieval variation of the game, including some medieval specific ingredients (cubeb, sandalwood). Now, fun variation for medieval food fans but it doesn’t narrow in on a specific place or time.

Then it struck me, deal-a-meal. Now, here is where we dive into the crazy a little bit, but stay with me. Since ingredients tend to be similar across Europe during the middle ages, you don’t have to have new cards for each similar ingredient. The basic idea is for the cards to look like this:

I’m doing some more digging and data crunching to see what the best way would be to do this. What I want to do is offer something that lets people find ingredients first – since shopping by season or region can help control costs. It’s the difference between cooking from a cookbook and being a cook. There’s a degree of creativity that one learns by doing, and my desire is to help people discover that aspect of cooking a bit more quickly.

Once I have a better fix on how to present the information, I’ll share that here.

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