Cooking at Burning Man

Cooking at Burning Man isn’t always the easiest thing to do amidst the dry, dusty environment, lack of refrigeration, and inability to run to the corner store for a key ingredient you may have forgotten.

In the video below, two culinary enthusiasts who have attended Burning Man give a 37-minute presentation of useful tips for cooking on the playa. Although it’s not exactly the most exciting video you’ll ever see, it’s a decent primer for those of you who have limited experience cooking in Black Rock City.

For those of you planning to build a kitchen for your camp, Organizing a Communal Kitchen also contains many good facts about what you’ll need to cook on the playa for a small or large group of people.

Random Items Your Future Self Will Be Glad You Brought With You (Part 2 of 2)

Every year, I have at least a few moments of crisis or annoyance that I failed to bring an item I really should have remembered to bring.
Yesterday, we discussed important things like lip balm, baby wipes, ear plugs, sun shower and wide-brimmed hats.

Today, we’ve got 5 more random items your future self at Burning Man will be happy your current self remembers to bring.

Batteries – Get more batteries than you think you’ll need. Trust me on this one. I’ve had discussions with my friends about this and we’ve concluded that, for some unknown reason, batteries tend to wear out faster on the playa. Maybe it’s due to overuse? Maybe the heat or dust affects them in some way. Who knows? The point is to bring along at least 2-3 spare sets of batteries for every item than requires batteries. Most importantly, we’re talking about blinky lights, a bike light, boom box, flashlight, megaphone, vibrator or anything else you absolutely must have with you on the playa. Don’t forget to dispose of your batteries properly post-playa!


Random Items Your Future Self Will Be Glad You Brought With You (Part 1 of 2)

Every year, I have at least a few moments of crisis or annoyance when I realize I failed to bring an item I really should have remembered to bring. So here are 5 random items my future self at Burning Man will be happy my current self remembers to bring. Tomorrow we’ll list 5 more items!

Sun Shower – These little babies will save your crusty, dried-out skin and they’re pretty cheap. Just fill it up with water, leave it out in the sun all day and around dusk, hang it up a bit of distance from your camp and get to washing that stinky body of yours. Don’t forget, you need to have some sort of system that will capture that grey water you’re creating. Don’t let that crap seep into the playa. For more on that, check this. (more…)

Burning Man Can Be Tough On Relationships

Photo by Tor Clausen, 2006

Are you attending Burning Man with a significant other or close friend?

How long have you known this person?

More importantly, how well do you know this person?

Truth be told, by week’s end you’ll know that person much more than you did when you arrived.

Anyone attending Burning Man with his or her significant other or close friend should know the potential for stress and frustration the event can have on relationships -especially if this is the first time you’re going to the playa together.

I personally know of several relationships (both romantic and platonic) that were dissolved after a bit of drama erupted into full-blown arguments and, to this day, have never been completely resolved.

It’s hard to say what exactly is the cause: the intense daytime heat and stress of being in the desert; the intensity and over-stimulation of the event; the pervasive spontaneity; lack of sleep; decreased appetite; potential dehydration; or, if this is your first time, your inexperience with the combination of all the above.


Know your nose: managing playa dust in yer sniffer

Good taste alert:  this post may make some of you a little squeamish. It’s not about the environment per se; rather it’s about the impact the environment on the playa has on you, and what you can do about it. More to the point, it’s about playa dust, your nose, and how to make them live happily together.  And it’s another post from our dear friend Molly Golightly–you can see the red headed menace in this photo from BM2k.3


From Molly: “Neti Pot: Saver Of Sinuses

Playa boogers happen. They are terrifying nose goblins of previously
unknown proportions. I don’t want to know how something that big came
out of a nose a small as mine, but it happens. Caustic playa dust
wrecks havoc on sinuses and dries out the nostrils. For years burners
have been advising to bring squirty bottles of saline and tissues to
alleviate Extreme Playa Nose. But those little plastic bottles aren’t
very earth-friendly ( I came home with TEN!! empties one year) and I’ve found a more effective means of nasal/sinus irrigation and health: the neti pot.

Let me state that the neti pot (also spelled netti) has changed my
life. It has eased my allergies by pushing out particles that can’t be
reached by the saline squirty spray bottle. I use my neti pot every
day and my eyes are less red and my head is less congested. On the
playa the neti pot is like a shower for the inside of your head.

Neti pots are an ancient Indian remedy. You fill the small pot with
warm water and (for smoothest results) non-iodized non-sea salt. It
takes a bit of practice but essentially the water is poured in one
nostril, travels through the sinuses of the head, and out the other
nostril — bringing it with it debris, boogers, dust, whatever you’ve
got up there. Now you do the other side. The lowly saline bottle has
nothing on the effects of the neti.

[note: if you want to see one in action, click here–but be warned the person in the video looks like they’re a robot. it’s a little creepy, actually]

You can find them online or I bought mine at the health food store.
Some are ceramic, others are glass. Ceramic is probably more

A final thought–I know it’s Burning Man and all, but please: don’t share your neti pot.”


Guest Blogger! “Thanks But No Thanks: Plastic Playa Gifts”


Special Guest Blog from the one and only Molly Golightly:

Here’s the thing: I loved the Burning Man documentary “Gifting It.”

I have been given some wonderful playa gifts, including: First Aid and a gin ‘n’ tonic (BM ’98); pair of hand-made earrings (BM ’00); combination lighter and bottle opener (BM ’01); an antique kimono (BM ’04). I have also been given countless pieces of plastic crap that ended up dusty and broken in the bottom of my backpack and that generally made me sad.

Now, I don’t want to seem ungracious. I know you’re not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth. There is so much magic on the playa — I’m well-known for crying at the overwhelming beauty of it all. Burning Man’s gift economy allows you to put meaning into almost anything. It’s not the cost of what’s given, but the act of giving. But that plastic butterfly hair pin one gentleman insisted I have when I was dressed in hoop skirts and corset as a gothic southern belle left me cold and went straight to the landfill

Playa gifts are a piece of you. You’re giving a stranger something to add to their experience, all because you can. People are open to receiving and it is a beautiful thing. When you’re thinking about playa gifts, put down the made-in-China trinket list. I’d rather have you stand in front of your camp passing out lemonade or spraying me with a water gun. That would make my Burning Man that much more playa.

Drink And Be Merrier

can_top_closeup.jpgI like to drink as much as the next lad or lad-ette. Especially in the joyously hot Black Rock Desert.

When you’re chilling underneath your shade structure in the middle of a sweltering afternoon on the playa, there are few things more suitable than quaffing a few cold ones to watch the day go by — interspersing those cold ones with steady gulps of delicious water to keep yourself alive and stuff.

Or, if and when you run out of ice to keep said beverages chilled, you’d be amazed at how tasty a warmish beer can be. In fact, by the end of the week, I can attest you’ll be acclimated enough with Black Rock City to not care if a beer is cold or not. Even if it’s been sitting in the blazing sun all day (which can be easily avoided if you keep your cooler in a shaded spot) and its inner temperature is near boiling point.

Regardless, when purchasing your various beverages, whether or not it’s alcoholic, you should always get aluminum cans, never glass bottles!

Tip #13 leave the genny at home

“An inverter hooked up to a truck/van/car is often plenty of power for most/many people.  And yet every year many people lug out expensive, noisy generators meant to produce way more power than they actually need.

Inverters come in a range of sizes (150 Watt to 1000 Watt) and when hooked up to a vehicle make a great impromptu generator.  The vehicle will have to be run occasionally to charge the battery but it will be much quieter and produce way fewer emissions than conventional generators.   Just don’t run out of gas on playa!

Unless they’re running a large sound system or some other power hungry project most camps don’t need a generator. Modern automotive alternators are designed to produce 100+ amps of DC current which is more than enough to power a 400 Watt inverter.

Just a thought.

DC Chris”