I have a love/hate relationship with cookbooks. I hate that they love how much I hate them.
I pick up a book with a title like Quick and Easy Cooking and I expect to find recipes that are…you know…quick and easy. And then I open up the book and am instructed to “braise some crawfish tail meat in Creole seasoning.
And wouldn’t you know it? I just used up all my crawfish tail meat and Creole seasoning last week.
And there’s always some douchebag from the Food Network holding up the perfect final product, grinning smugly at you, as if to ask, “What? Yours looks like a moldy cowpie? You must be pretty stupid to screw up something as easy as this!”
Not only that…the cookbooks also judge me for being single. Even when I do find something that I miraculously have all the ingredients for, the recipe makes 4-8 servings and doesn’t refrigerate. Just call the book Why Don’t You Have A Girlfriend Yet? and be done with it.
Why isn’t there a cookbook for the hopeless bachelor cook? I mean, yes, there are, but their focus is primarily on survival, not improvement. “You’ll never really learn how to cook,” they say, “but here are enough no-effort recipes to keep you alive for the rest of your miserable existence.”
I propose something different. I propose a cookbook such as the world has never seen…
COOKING: An RPG Adventure For The Solo Wanderer
A young hero sets out from his homeland of Ramenia, with nothing in his Backpack of Infinite Quantum Storage but individual packets of microwaveable noodles. Along his journey, he will become the greatest chef his sort-of-medieval-but-also-sort-of-not-because-there’s-magic-there-too has ever seen!
It would be a no-frills, no-skills, no-bills cookbook. It would be presented sequentially…instead of the typical cookbook that expects you to have granulated duck testicles on hand and know what the hell ‘braising’ is from page one, this one would take you from an empty larder and no cooking knowledge to a fully-stocked cupboard and culinary expertise over the course of several months.
Quests would come in the form of recipes, using only ingredients and cooking techniques that have been introduced before. At the end of the quest, or upon leveling up, the adventurer would receive their loot: new ingredients, cooking techniques, and kitchenware to use in the now-unlocked higher-leveled recipes. Loot would be spread out so that the adventurer never has to spend a huge amount of real-world money to buy the reward for any given level.
The emphasis would be on single-serving recipes, for solo journeying, or making meals that can be stored and reheated easily as leftovers. Multi-serving meals could be saved for the Additional Party Members Expansion Pack.
Now I just have to write it before I starve to death waiting for random kitchen encounters.