By Lisa Hartjes, Hart Felt Productions, $5
The Internet is a wonderful thing. Full of ideas that are made viable by the shear number of folks out there. And their tummies growled is an RPG cookbook. Not the kind containing techniques and scenarios, but one containing recipes for hungry gamers. Now, I'm a sucker for cooking and novelty RPG products, so this kind of sideways idea amuses me. It's the extension of a set of reasoning that goes: if gaming takes place after work, then waiting for folks to eat can shorten available time, so why not combine the two? This book aims to be your guide to combining gaming and dinner...
It's available as a 50 page minimally, some might say basically, formatted PDF from RPGNOW. The advantage of a PDF cookbook is you can print out the individual recipes as and when you need them, so it's quite usable in that way. There's a cover, but no other art, and I was a little disappointed that there weren't photos of some of the dishes. Whenever I follow a recipe I hope to have a clue of what it should end up looking like, especially if it's not something I'm familiar with.
The book is broken down into themed sections: baked goods, salads, pasta meals, soups, meat dishes, other mains and side dishes. There are PDF bookmarks, hyper-linked table of contents and index to jump between them. There's also a recipes by type index (quick, pre-prepared and so on). There's lots of flexibility in terms of moving around the PDF.
The recipes, of which there are 35, are on the whole easy and substantial, which seems to be exactly what the author is going for. Most have a solid American home-cooking feel to them, and ideal for hungry gamer filling. A few of the ingredients are fairly obviously standard US brands that I didn't know of and that slightly confused me; Chex is obviously a breakfast cereal, but is it like cornflakes or something else? Similarly, ingredients like condensed lemonade left me scratching my head as to where to find them.
In general the recipes are more likely to use chilli powder, or spice mix than a particular selection of spices, which disappointed me slightly, but does aid in making them easy to put together if you're not somebody who cooks a lot. Similarly some dishes don't contain ingredients I'd expect them to, for example the Beef Stroganoff contained no mustard. This isn't a problem, given the target audience, but might disappoint an avid foodie.
Most of the recipes are nice though, there's a great one for German Warm Potato Salad and an intriguing mixed-bean chilli that has a hint of chocolate in it. The type of thing that's just different enough from your own recipe to intrigue. The beer and cheese soup should be an excellent winter warmer. Some of these can be found in the demo version of the PDF and this gives you a fairly accurate feel for the production values and nature of the recipes.
Overall: If you're looking for a few quick-n-filling recipes to share with friends before gaming, then this is as good a bet as picking up a random cookbook, and has the added advantage of being designed with speed and ease in mind. Aside from timing issue though, actual links to gaming are slightly tenuous.