Well-crafted stories and expert culinary insights

Mar 2010

It’s Game Time!!

Anyone else out there love both food and playing games as much as I do? I sure hope so. Because today’s the official release date of my new cookbook, Gourmet Game Night. It’s the ideal book for that niche of humanity that lives in that overlap of the foodie crowd and the gaming crowd. And I’ve launched a companion web site as well, at Check it out!

The general premise of the cookbook is a simple one. When you’re playing games, there can be a lot going on. Dice, cards, fake money, dominoes, Cranium clay, game pieces in circulation. You want to keep your food on the tidy side so that those accoutrements of playing games don’t get covered in Cheetos dust and pizza grease. And you also don’t want to distract from the game play by having to put down your cards to pick up a knife and fork to eat along the way.

So I dreamed up this world where playing games and eating well go hand in hand. Fingers never get messy, because everything’s served in small dishes, on picks, between mini slices of bread, or are just pop-in-your-mouth fully edible. And the game momentum continues uninterrupted because the food sits to the side on a small plate, ready for one-handed eating while you ruthlessly collect high rents from your Monopoly opponents.

Along with the 80 or so recipes, I also provide lots of tips for hosting game nights, from considering what types of games to play, to favorite small dishes and picks that make mess-free eating a breeze. I have some menu plans in there, too, whether you’re two couples playing hearts or a crowd playing a bunch of different games.

And did you know that there’s an ever-increasing array of games being released with food lovers in mind? From Foodie Fight to Wasabi!, there are plenty of “gastro-games” on tap today, a number of which I profile in the book as well. If you’re looking for a game shop near year, I have a starter list of a dozen or so in the book. On the web site, I hope to continue increasing the listings to help connect game players with great shopping options near them. Is there one in your area that I should add? Let me know!

Though I’ve written (or co-written) a dozen cookbooks before this, Gourmet Game Night stands out as unique among them. It’s perhaps the most personal, growing organically out of realization that the way we host game nights at our house might be a bit out of the norm and maybe others would like to learn some tricks for making great food game-friendly. I found myself interjecting doses of family history in the book’s introduction, memories of playing Tripoley when I was a kid, and carrying a mini cribbage board on backpacking trips.

And the book’s already garnered interest from a number of different types of media outlets. It’s been featured in USA Weekend and Health magazine. I’ve been interviewed by Faith Middleton from Connecticut Public Broadcasting (for future airing, not sure what date) and will be live on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius the morning of March 3. The book’s been chosen as the March selection for Barnes & Noble’s Food and Drink Book Club! I’m due to be doing an online Q & A with book club folks on March 10.

But I have to say that this review of the book on a gamer’s blog Guilt Free Games warms my heart about as much as anything could. I felt pretty confident that among the foodie crowd there would be a subset of folks who like to play games too. But was it equally true that among the hard-core gaming crowd there would be some interested in eats beyond the usual convenience and fast-food fare? If this review is any indication, the answer is “yes”! He and his wife even ventured to try the wild mushrooms tartlets, happily finding the goat cheese “wasn’t as gross” as he thought it would be (thrilled to help introduce folks to something new!). And I’m glad, too, that my obvious proclivity for more mainstream party games (dominoes, Wise & Otherwise, Balderdash, Scrabble, Blokus) didn’t dissuade this hard-core gamer from appreciating what the book has to offer to game players of all types!

So, are you an avid game-player too? I’d love to hear what your favorite things are to play when you have friends over for a fun unplugged game night at your house. Unwind, reconnect and bring on the fun.

2 Comments for this entry

John-Michael Gariepy
March 5th, 2010 on 11:06 pm

Hiya Cynthia! John-Michael here from Guilt Free Games. I’m happy to hear we left an impression with you, and I’ll make sure Dave sees the kind words you posted.
If you asked any of the staff at Guilt Free Games if we’re ‘serious gamers’, we’d probably try to shrug off the stigma, then agree that, yes, we really are game nerds. But that doesn’t mean that what we’re playing is always stuffy. A lot of good games out there (Settlers of Cataan, Carcasonne, Ticket to Ride or Dominion, for example) would be conventional mainstream games if Hasbro didn’t have a stranglehold on the American board game industry.
If your readers are interested in playing something new, the four previously mentioned ‘modern classics’ would be a good place to start. I’d also suggest ‘Bananagrams’ for word enthusiasts, and ‘Are You the Traitor?’ for a party game / detective blend that’s light on rules.
And if they want something that’s just silly, there’s always ‘We Didn’t Playtest This At All’.

I’ve played a LOT of games, so limiting myself to just seven is difficult. Most of your readers would be surprised what strange and interesting games there are if they left Toys R’ Us and Wal-Mart and walked inside a brick and mortar game store. If there are none near them, there’s plenty of game stores online. We always plug, because Dan’s one of the best salesmen we ever met, but their site is down for maintenance right now. Better bookmark it. 😉

March 10th, 2010 on 9:27 am

John-Michael, thanks so much for your great note here. I actually got Settlers for Christmas, have yet to break into the new game but definitely am inspired to expand my own game horizons a bit after the time I spent learning more about the breadth of games out there beyond my own “game closet” at home. I have a section in the book listing independent game stores–including Myriad–with the purpose of encouraging other more casual, dinner-party game players to likewise explore more options than what they commonly see on department store shelves. Definitely glad to help spread that word! And if you have any other game stores around the country that you recommend I add to the list, happy to learn about them and I can beef up my listing on the web site:

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Three Things You Can Do To Help Us Out « Guilt Free Games, May 12th, 2010 on 6:50 am

[…] Cynthia Nim, author of “Gourmet Game Time” had some very nice things to say about Dave’s new article “What’s Cookin’ On Game Night!”. I linked to Cynthia’s article, since she was kind enough to link to Dave’s article. If your only interested in what she had to say about Dave, skip to the second to last paragraph. I won’t tell… […]