[Sca-cooks] Current farm prices and affects on feast budgeting

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Feb 18 19:55:15 PST 2008

On Feb 18, 2008, at 8:40 PM, Terry Decker wrote:

> Good points, but ask 'em how much they spent for the last "bad" feast.
> Cooks who are sloppy about the cooking, tend to be sloppy on the  
> logistics
> and the budget.  I know that Namron likes good food at a decent  
> price while
> breaking even or making a profit.  Of course that doesn't mean that  
> the
> feast is period, but as long as it doesn't cost more or taste worse,  
> period
> is great.

Part of me is insulted by that, but I know what you mean. I'd say most  
around here would pay [a little] extra to know they'd get better and  
more period food, but I can certainly understand a refusal if the  
option represented a drawback. On the other hand, if the situation  
allows for even the very idea of a straight comparison between my  
feast, or yours, and the breakfast buffet at [I was gonna say Denny's,  
but I have no real experience with them, both by choice and, more  
importantly, geography -- I'm talking about uninspired bulk fressing  
for $4.99; research suggests this is not Denny's]. I'm talking about  
the cook's version of not going on the defensive. You shouldn't have  
to remind folks that you're doing something nice for them; they're not  
doing you a favor by graciously allowing you to turn $3 worth of  
ingredients into a $25+  meal for 400.

Of course, it takes a little tact to keep things on that level without  
seeming like a jerk.

> A large part of any menu planning I do is deciding
> where to spend my dollars and where to spend my time.  I don't  
> usually tell
> people about the trade-offs, but it might make a point.

You might give it a try. When you serve people Taillevent's boneless,  
stuffed, gilt-glazed roast chicken, it's really grossly unfair to say  
that chickens are $.69 a pound, so you should be able to do that and  
several other comparable dishes for $3 a head.

I don't know about you, but I started doing SCA feasts when I was  
about 23. I'd think nothing of coming home from my full-time job,  
doing kitchen prep through the night, washing the pork out of my hair  
and going back to work for three days out of the five immediately  
before my feast. I thought nothing of hefting full, 80-quart  
stockpots, standing on my feet without a break for 16 hours or more,  
and diving headfirst into the occasional convection oven.  I realize  
now that I've been doing this for about half of my life, and I just  
can't physically do that sort of thing regularly anymore.

I have to find shortcuts, and sometimes that involves spending a  
little more on some of my ingredients, and that's not even counting  
inflation. I'm not going to stand there and try to blackmail my group,  
but they do understand that if they want to spend less for a feast  
than they would for breakfast or a burger at the local diner, it's  
possible they may not get the same feast as they would if I had a  
little input on my budget. We do what we can; more than that we cannot  
do, and so far, that has been regarded as more than enough. And I've  
been lucky.

>  I moight also
> invite the finance committee to assist me in the prep work and save  
> the
> Barony even more money.

I think this is a terrific idea. A little pork in their hair is just  
what some people need to understand that elusive balance of  
inspiration and perspiration. They may simply think Bear, or whoever,  
likes this sort of thing, he's good at it, he can just wave his magic  
wand and it all gets done magically, right?

One thing I do, and I admit it is an utter conceit, is sit out in the  
feast hall in some... less than hidden... location after the last of  
the food goes out, trying my best to look like an ace starting pitcher  
in a baseball game sitting on the bench after being replaced by the  
closer with a lead in the ninth inning. Arrogant? You bet. But what  
I'm going after is for a little exposure of how difficult (or at  
least, how not easy, if you get the distinction I'm trying to make)  
the job can be, as people approach and feel the heat and steam  
emanating from me, so they won't just dismiss what we do as a bunch of  
nuts having such a good time they can be exploited. Well, we generally  
_are_ a bunch of nuts, but even a bunch of nuts appreciates please,  
thank you, and what can we do to help?


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