Every epic experience starts with a name. You would expect a lot from something named “the best food you’ll ever eat”. On the other hand, a dish called “You probably will not throw up afterward” is unlikely to be met with positive feelings. Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Naming Recipes!
When it comes to Fantasy Cooking, a number of things can play into choosing a good name, and this time we will be looking into the most general aspect of it. You do not need to be actually roleplaying for this, nor do you need to develop a clear picture of what a certain place or era tastes like. Over time, I will add more free resources that go more in-depth. Subscribe to my email list (on the right) so you do not miss any one of them!
Here, we will assume you have a meal ready and want to give it a new name. So let us find out what naming recipes is really all about.
There is no Perfect Name
Before we start let me emphasize this point. There is no such thing as perfect, and there is no perfect name for any meal. Yes, there might be names that you feel so good about that they might as well be perfect. But in truth, those names probably “cheated”, building on something that you feel good about or being the result of several iterations. Those names tend to be the result of a group conversation that borders on roleplaying.
We will get into that in future articles, but for now, let’s assume that perfect is not an option. It is better to settle for “good enough” and sit down to eat, rather than go around in circles trying to find a better name while the food gets cold. And as both a Chef and an Alchemist, Jabbado would never stand for that.
Where to start when naming recipes?
Frankly, this might be the biggest hurdle to overcome here. If you have a roleplaying campaign going on you have limits you can work with, and if you chose a certain fandom (for lack of a better word) you have guidelines as well. But naming a meal that could be anything is that much harder because you have no idea where to start, right?
Well, in a way that is true, but it also gives you the freedom to do anything you want. Imagine an Orc recipe called “Gently toasted slice of Apple on Salad”. Does that sound orcish to you? Apart from the slicing, there is not much in there that you would generally associate with Orcs, and little reason to assume that Orcs would prepare or enjoy such a meal. (As an aside, “Flame-ravaged Apple on Plant Debris” would work for an Orc name, I think.)
The key here is that we did not start out trying to give your meal an orcish name. We have not set any boundaries (yet), so we are free to pick any name and go to any length we chose.
The Three Simple Ways of Naming Recipes
Where anything is possible there are different layers or depths that you can go to. Use them as an inspiration, not a limitation. Maybe you want to start out with something simple on your first try, or you might have an idea to go deeper. There is no better or worse here, just different ways to get to the same goal – to have fun.
There is another aspect at work when naming recipes. It boils down to how much “work” you want to do before, and how much you want to happen during the meal and among your friends.
Also, the distinction between those methods is not a hard cut one. The important thing is to come up with a name, not to satisfy arbitrary conventions. If what you come up works for you, then it works, period.
Add a Place or Person
This is the simplest way to rename a recipe because you can use the actual name and simply add some proverbial flavor to it. Take the name of a place or a person, fictional or otherwise, that meets your fancy. Or replace the name with a more generic description.
Here are some examples for the common “hot dog”:
- “The judge’s hot dog”
- “Mr. Bond’s breakfast”
- “The Alchemist’s snack”
This method is the easiest because it requires the least amount of work. And while most of these do not sound very epic at first, they offers the most potential for stories to explore while eating. What is the story behind the name? What adventure, hardship or coincidence had to be endured for this meal to become associated with it?
This kind of name is an invitation, something to feed the mind as well as the body. It begs the question of “why” to be answered. And you will be surprised what you and your friends can come up with. And that can really make for a perfect name that will stick.
Add an Origin
This method works similar to the one above, but it adds a little more background from the start. The idea is to answer the question where the meal comes from, how it was created or why it became known under this name.
The difference is not so much in the name but the thought put into it. So if you can, put that meal’s origin into the name, but if there is no way to easily do so stick with a name along the lines of person or place and add the origin when you sit down to eat.
Let’s have some examples for “pancakes”:
- “Flat Cakes of the River Kingdom”
- “Mad King’s Pancakes”
- “Fried Dragon Wings”
While this way of naming recipes may reduce the amount of creative potential that comes from answering the “why” with your friends, it also adds some more food for thought to provide a deeper, more meaningful experience.
Add a Story
This approach to naming recipes maximizes your work unless you have something to base it upon, be it a game, a movie, or a personal experience. It will also help you tell a story while eating, and while your friends will have less room to add their own ideas to answer the “why”, this might work well as an introduction and an example to get their creativity going for later meals.
Here are some examples for “meat balls”:
- “Deviled Meat Balls from Hell”
- “Remnants of the Old One”
- “The Fried Orc“
Do you notice a pattern? All example names could potentially work for all three methods. It is what you have in mind when you read them that makes all the difference. Which is probably the core ingredient of Fantasy Cooking (congratulations!).
You can also base the name on your own roleplaying campaign, or develope a the taste (and feel) of places and eras further. If you want to dive deeper into this aspect, subscribe to the mailing list (on the right) to get notified when future guides come out.
Take it further as you eat
But the fun does not stop once you have chosen a name. It actually starts there. As you sit down with your friends, bring up the name of the food. If they have no idea what Fantasy Cooking is (you should really share this blog with them, and) tell them that it is a way of turning food into a story.
Give them whatever information you have made up regarding the name, depending on the approach you took. Do not be afraid to say “I do not know” when they ask for details. Follow it up with “What do you think?” instead. This part of Fantasy Cooking thrives on the fact that others might associate something different than you with the name or the background you chose.
This process can take on an organic nature, even if your food is not. Someone will add a small tidbit to the name, or a possible origin for it. Then someone else chimes in with a bit of background for that. And so on. Keep at it for as long as the ball is rolling. You will end up with a story that is very personal to all of you, and this is where “perfect” comes within reach.
And make no mistake – you are now roleplaying. You might not have characters or sheets of statistics or miniatures, but you are roleplaying. And chances are that you will enjoy it.
Let me also share one important rule with you that applies to roleplaying games as well – do your best to avoid saying “no”. If someone has an idea that you do not like, do not cut them off. Think about it, and then say “yes, and…”. Use their idea, and bring it together with your own. This is not only a good way to build a story, but also a great way to bring everyone together.
And if things do not work out? What if your friends just want to eat, or discuss fun topics like politics and religion? Then that is okay, too. Do not force this. Naming recipes should be fun, and the same goes for fleshing out the story. Forcing it does not work. You can try again later, with a different meal, or talk it through with your friends and come up with something that you can all get into. Just make sure that in the end you had more fun using this, not less.