i didn’t overcook the lamb! but i also didn’t make the sea cucumbers.

for the next installment in the “what have you been doing other than facebook?” series (hereafter referred to as WHYB.FB?), i will discuss the following:

i went to burning man!

Kynthia grinning in dusty goggles

for my third pilgrimage to black rock city, i agreed to run the kitchen for the golden cafe, which i also did last year, but this year i was excited because more people signed up to help cook, and i had more experience, including the experience of already acquiring equipment, which meant that part would hopefully be easier this time around.

Lucifer talking in the bar

i was basically responsible for:
– making sure that all of the basic equipment was purchased/borrowed/found and transported to the playa somehow;
– making sure that someone signed up to cook for each slot on the meal plan, or signing up myself, or letting lucifer buy MREs;
– making sure that each person who signed up to cook understood that they were responsible for either purchasing and transporting their own food, or giving me a list;
– making three supper club menus that were separate from the meal plan;
– recruiting people to help me cook on supper club nights (TWR);
– purchasing the food i needed for supper club and the food that other people asked me to get;
– transporting all the food i bought;
– making sure there was enough cooler/refrigerator space for all the food throughout the week;
– organizing the kitchen somewhat so that it could be used by many different people without driving them (or me) completely insane;
– communicating with the power and trash teams throughout the week;
– encouraging camp members and random passersby to wash dishes even though it was a disgusting job in an environment without running water or drains;
– making creative use of leftovers and unused/forgotten food so that food waste was minimized as much as possible;
– overseeing cleanup, packing, and distribution of leftovers and equipment;
– transporting my own share of the leftovers and equipment home to sit in a dusty pile until i get around to sorting through it (current progress ~ 40%);
– making notes about what to do better next year (current progress (~ 10%);
– vowing to do everything differently if i’m ever crazy enough to do such a job again.

considering that this list should probably be split between 3-4 people for maximum efficiency and enjoyment, things went quite well, though some concessions were made in the form of crazy supper club menu items that very few people even knew i was considering. i decided that going the safe route at the last minute was preferable, seeing as that way i got to do some other things, too, like climb on the giant monkey bars on our corner, or spin on the teeter-totter of death next door, or go all the way out to the giant slide. this year was a year of playground equipment, and i rather enjoyed that trend.


purchasing and transport were way easier this year, but seeing as how last year i almost had a nervous breakdown in the week before the burn, and ended up going way over budget because i had to rent a hotel room to hold all the stuff i was buying and then rent a van to transport it, the bar to beat was not very high.

the worst thing on playa this year was that my back really hurt the whole week, and that made it harder to want to do other things when i wasn’t cooking, which kind of sucked. i did manage to get out several times, and i saw the big sights, and i made new friends, so all was well. one morning, a friend of the camp even stopped by on his way to volunteer at the heebie jeebie healers, and i got a reiki session without having to wait in line, so that was awesome. that was thursday morning, and the night before, an experienced line cook had sauntered in to help with supper club just as i was about to pull my hair out, so i didn’t have to grate any cheese, and then i had excellent company wandering around the city til dawn, so the universe provides. :)


and as for the kitchen, all three nights of supper club were very well received, so that was quite rewarding. i did, in fact, not overcook the lamb, and neither did i make the sea cucumbers, which was the name i came up with for cucumbers that i cored, stuffed with crab/seaweed salad, chilled, sliced, and flash fried. at one point, i also tried wrapping them in nori, but it didn’t really like to stick, so i ditched that step. i think it would work better with a layer of sticky rice, and i might try the whole thing again sometime, when not in the desert. more disappointing was the loss of the cheddar-apple ties, which were cool little apple and cheddar sandwiches that i wrapped in pie crust and grilled. i was stressing out that night, and we already had grilled cheesecake for dessert, so hassling with pie crust seemed silly.

in the end, i had a lot of fun, enjoyed some excellent food, and met many amazing and generous people, which is always the biggest joy of burning man. i was considering that i would not be in the country for burning man 2010, but now i think i will be, but i will not be running the cafe kitchen again, which will doubtless be a bit sad, but also very liberating. one of our most awesome new camp members – tigerlily – has agreed to take on the infrastructure portion of the kitchen alone, which means the meal plan and potential supper club portions will be handled separately, which is smart. i might be convinced to cook one meal, but as of now, i believe that my main focus is going to be the creation of a wandering employment agency and impromptu soup kitchen. the theme next year is ‘metropolis’ and i figure any real city needs social services. :)

Kynthia with a Popeye face

i do no real planning for burning man until after president’s day, however, as a personal concession to sanity.

so more thoughts there after the year turns over, yes?

in the meantime, i’ll keep trying to clear the brush of these WHYB.FB backstories…

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