We provide a single-course evening meal for seven nights, Mon-Sun. There is always a meat option and a vegetarian option. If you have any specific dietary requirements (veggie, vegan, kosher, allergies, hate chilli, won’t eat anything green) please make sure you fill in the appropriate section on your user profile – we need to know so that we can plan the menu, and you don’t spend the week starving/miserable/choking/picking peas out of everything.We’ve got a full scale dedicated camp kitchen tent, with huge pans, gas burners, utensils, knives, colour-coded chopping boards, waterproof cloths, mixing bowls etc. Everything you need to make a meal.
Every night someone different volunteers to cook. Please register yourself for this using the link given on the mailing list. If you’re not a confident cook, don't worry - there will be a group of you cooking together, and help is available.
On the other hand, if you can’t tell one end of a potato peeler from the other you’re going to die in the desert and should probably consider a Club 18-30 minibreak instead.
The camp meal needs to be ready by 5.30pm every night, so cooks need to start their shift at 2-3pm – bulk meals need to be cooked slowly or they burn, and prepping that quantity of food takes a while too. Before we leave for the desert, the menu is planned, the recipes calculated for every night, and the shopping lists are printed. Every night the cooks just need to follow the relevant menu and recipes that will be provided. Someone will be in charge of shopping, and the food should be sorted so that each night’s food is separated. If you want to help shop in Reno before the event (always chaotic and hilarious and never fewer than five trollies), sign up on the website.
We provide 2 rashers of bacon and 1 egg for everyone in the camp for breakfast. If you're veggie, then you get vegetarian bacon. Don't ask us what it's actually made of - we don't know, and don't particularly want to.
We do not provide food during the day, so you must bring your own. You can use the kitchen facilities for this but need to go very easy on the gas – if we run out, we’re all going to starve, so no slow roasting entire oxen or baking potatoes.
Using the kitchen
If you use the kitchen during the day, clean up BEFORE you eat the fruit of your labours. Otherwise you will forget and someone will be forced to clear away your shit before they can eat. If this is Princess Impossible, you’d better make sure you enjoy what will inevitably turn out to be your last meal.
The desert heat will mean that you don’t feel much like cooking. This is OK though, because you won’t feel much like eating, either. Bring lots of salty snacks (necessary for helping you absorb the gallons of water you need to drink), energy bars, jerky, boiled sweets, pre-prepared packet food, crackers, crisps etc. Sandwiches can be good, but bread can go off over a week. Bagels work well. Obviously chocolate comes with its own hassles. Pot noodles are handy, as are camping meals in foil packets. They taste bizarre, but everything in the desert’s bizarre - they’ll get lost in the general weirdness. If you bring a watermelon, just like somebody does every year, be prepared to ship the damn thing out again – more trouble than they’re worth and the seeds get everywhere.
Do not leave your personal food or coolers in the kitchen. Keep it in your own accommodation or in the storage tent, and make sure it’s labelled, because everyone’s shit is ‘in a Walmart bag with some ramen and three cans of Coke.’
At the end of every evening meal, when we all leave camp, we will shut up the kitchen to stop things from wandering - make sure you have everything you need from it before we do this.
Before you start cooking for the group WASH YOUR HANDS! Supplies of anti-bacterial hand wash are always available on the kitchen table. Use it regularly and wipe down all surfaces with a cloth and anti-bac hand wash, before you cook and at regular intervals during the cooking process.
Clean the kitchen as you go – find someone to wash up while the cooking happens.
We use the incredible patented three-bowl system. It might seem a little ridiculous but extensive research in 2006 (Thanks Hilda!) suggests it’s the best available. Three bowls - one with hot water and washing up liquid, one with water and dilute bleach and one with plain water. Use them in that order. Use a new washing up brush and cloth every day - they breed novel exotic diseases if left overnight.
We have a dinner service and cutlery for the whole camp to use at night (if you use it during the day, wash it up). Thus every night we need a washing up team who will do the night’s washing up before heading out to play. Volunteer by choosing a date in your user profile, or prepare to be press-ganged by the washing up gimp.
Ice and coolers
We will have an Ice Queen whose job it is to sort out the ice-collection rota. Help them out by keeping an eye on the ice situation in the communal coolers – go and get ice if asked. Ice is available in blocks or cubes at Camp Arctica at Center Camp and the Plazas at 3/9, only until lunchtime every day. (Rumours abound that the plaza branches of Antarctica are open until 6pm)
We will have a sack truck or red wagon for this purpose. Or an art car. Also, everyone should bring a handful of one dollar bills to pay for ice when it’s their turn.
If our communal coolers with food for the evening meals warm up, the likely result is spoiled food and – inevitably – exotic food poisoning. In the desert this can be dangerous, as dehydration is intensified. Don’t let someone die of botulism because you couldn’t be arsed to collect a few lumps of frozen water.
If you have any personal daytime food that needs to be kept cool, you will need to supply your own cooler – these are available in almost all supermarkets and cost from $10. Do NOT buy the cheap, polystyrene coolers - they disintegrate in the harsh playa environment, and YOU will be responsible for chasing little beads of polystyrene across the playa in a dust storm.
Do not store your personal food in communal kitchen coolers. Keep it in your tent or in the communal storage tent. Label it. You will also need to buy your own ice.