The Wine Country Online

 Burning Man 

Every summer the flat prehistoric lakebed that is the Black Rock Desert in hell-and-gone northern Nevada draws up to twenty-five thousand people who gather from the four corners of the planet to simply express themselves.

While this unusual event is not necessarily about food, wine, or the Wine Country, a fair number of people from the Wine Country make the annual trek, so we might assume that this remote encampment might be a good place to enjoy food, wine and . . . summer fun!


"Burning Food"
By Mark Hanson

Illustrated by Levi Miller

    While food at Burning Man, like everything else, is generally the responsibility of the individual participants and their self-organized camping groups, there are a few exceptions.

    A new one this year was the "Pancake Playhouse," a theme camp set up in the center camp of Black Rock City, which gave out over five thousand pancakes to willing participants, some of whom provided fillings from apples to quince. Another was there for the second year, "The Popcorn Palace," which gave out hundreds of pounds of popcorn; while they had unpopped kernels remaining, they gave out so much that the last night people provided their own containers.

    With over twenty-four thousand participants in BRC at one time or another, it is difficult   if not impossible   to find out how they feed themselves, but there is one ongoing dance party on the edge of town which for the last several years has given out grilled-cheese sandwiches to dancers who are not too busy nibbling on each other to think of anything so mundane as food.

    There is a commissary for the volunteer service groups who build and keep BRC running for the length of its annual existence. All reports are that this year's food was much improved over the last few.

    The Lamplighters, the service group with which I've associated myself the last two years, has developed its own kitchen and takes care of its own needs with a small stipend from Burning Man Project and food provided by individuals within the group.

    This year the major disscusion on the Lamplighters' (email) List was what food we would have, who would fix it, who would clean up   and who would get to eat.

    At this late date, it is hard to remember many of the wonderful meals prepared and served in the Lamplighter kitchen.

    One member brought some forty pounds of boneless shoulder roast for a Hawaiian pork roast dinner. Another provided most of the eggs, cheese, veggies and batter for pancakes for breakfast for about fifty people each of three days.

    Several members combined to provide and prepare California and veggie rolls for a "Sushi and Sake Night," at which over 150 people had at least some sushi and more sake than they chose to drink.

    There was a "Pasta Night" which featured both meat and vegetarian sauces, and one participant provided several jars of a very good commercial pesto.

    There was a night with a very well prepared Spanish rice as the centerpiece, and other meals with miso soup and one particularly good coconut soup made by a new participant just before he left.

    At the end of the event there was still much food remaining, some of which was taken home, some given to the commissary, and some donated to a homeless shelter in the Mission district of San Francisco.

    The biggest problems arose in keeping perishables in edible condition, keeping the kitchen clean, dealing with grey water, and cleaning up the whole mess after the event.

    This work   like all else   falls to the participants who volunteer to do it. The event ended on Monday the 4th; by Wednesday there were only a few Lamplighters left to deal with the remains. As this is a leave-no-trace happening, it is necessary to pick up anything that wasn't there prior to our arrival.

    Having left on Tuesday, I can only presume that those who stayed did their usual great job of finishing up.

    If you wish to learn more about Burning Man, I suggest that you see their web site,