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Serving the cast and crew of Orwell's "1984"--need food for 30

This is a high school drama production, so the cast and crew are all in their teens, with adult director and helpers. Any ideas? It doesn't necessarily have to be theme food, but that would be fun. I just need something I can transport easily because I'll be cooking at home then bringing to school for opening night. (My son asked for Victory Gin, but I don't think that would fly...)

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  1. I don't know a teen alive who wouldn't appreciate a taco bar, which you can achieve easily by prepping all the ingredients, putting the meat into a crock-pot to stay warm, and pre-softening the tortillas briefly in a bit of oil and then wrapping well. Everything else can go into big aluminum pans. Sides that go wonderfully are rice; either plain, Mexican-style/spiced, or mixed with cilantro and a hit of lime along with a side of cheesy refried beans or black beans w/ salsa.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      Brilliant! In our house, we usually mix the meat and the refried beans (to add fiber and to make the tacos easier to fill). Do you think the other kids would accept this?

      1. re: Isolda

        Hmmmm. I can totally see your point, but kids are kids, though usually by teenage-dom they've evolved beyond "NO FOODS TOUCHING OTHER FOODS!!" Sometimes though, if the "other food" is visible and intact, it goes over better, as opposed to the refried beans/meat mix. If you go this route, I'd mix in whole pintos or black beans to keep the texture from being anything they could define as "weird" or "mushy." Either that or just keep it on the side, and they can add it to their tacos if they wish, or eat it alongside. Either way, they'll get their fiber, and it'll fill them up as well as the mixture.
        I do like the idea of a "rationed" dessert; as in individual-sized.

          1. re: tcamp

            So would I, then you don't have issues of either allergies or "But I don't like.....!".

        1. re: iL Divo

          trying to find a post I did years ago but not sure it was on Chowhound.
          may have been on another foodie board, but pretty sure it was here.
          I probably can remember it from memory but all the things that went on the table for you to choose from would be sketchy at best. I posted the items used when someone requested ideas for maybe a baby shower or bridal shower as I recall.

          it was a dump dinner idea involving chicken/rice/crisp noodles/gravy etc all set out buffet style which worked so perfectly for my mom's ladies luncheon at her country club.
          dang, wish I could locate it because it couldn't be easier, it's all set out, you serve yourself and choose the items you want to create your meal the way you like it.

          if anyone is much better than I at researching things on chowhound **because I am not** it was called something like a chicken dump dinner. it'd work here for this group if I could locate my post :(

            1. re: blue room

              thanks BlueRoom

              I see I never did post it.
              that is my bad for sure.
              for my own sake I need to find the family cookbook though.

      2. Ah, so you're the Ministry of Plenty!

        Food was rationed horribly in 1984...it was a means to wage war....so a symbolic gesture you could bring is the chocolate ration as part of dessert. 20 grams is about 4 Hershey kisses per person.

        I like the Taco Bar idea!....you could also do a selection of sandwiches/wraps with good fixins on good bread, vegetarian and classic selections.

        3 Replies
        1. re: pinehurst

          I was tempted just to bring a small ration of food for each person, but I think these kids need to eat!

          1. re: Isolda

            Oh, yeah. That they do; especially after giving their talented all for the good of community culture!

          2. re: pinehurst

            The only menu consideration I'd really have is "are they eating in costume"? As someone who helped my cousin when he was drama director of a local HS many moons ago, spills and rips could bum out the wardrobe people (aka me). If they're in civilian clothes, though, rock on!

          3. Two thoughts: mamachef always knows what she's talking about (yes!) and
            haha, they couldn't have done delicious Animal Farm?

            1 Reply
            1. re: blue room

              Nyeah. I just like to make it sound as if I do. :)
              Nice compliment, blue room. Thank you so much!!
              .........though, when it comes to teenage/young adult tastes, maybe I do have an advantage there. 27 Frat boys can't be wrong. At least not all of them, and definitely not about food!!

            2. Look at http://foodtimeline.org/fooddecades.h... for menus and newly-introduced foods of the 1980's.

              1. I vote for pulled pork...

                1. I have cooked for film crews many times. There are a few things that you'll have to take into consideration, besides the obvious transportability issue. With a group of teens, you are very likely to have a percentage of vegetarians/vegans/gluten-frees/etc. You'll absolutely have to provide food that covers all those corners. I've always either made a single main dish that was vegetarian (usually lacto, at least) plus a bunch of sides (salad, dessert, soup) OR I've done two mains - one with meat and the other veg. Sometimes it's easy to make a vegetarian variation on a simple main - like lasagna. Other times you really need to make two entirely different things. I never want the vegetarians to just have to eat around the main.

                  First thing you have to do is actually find out what you're dealing with. If you miraculously have no dietary issues to work around, it would be amazing (and easy). But honestly, not likely. If you do a taco bar, as has been suggested, you'll absolutely have to provide at least one substantial non-meat filling, as well as the other bits.

                  In the past I've done a big pan of arroz con pollo (with a separate pan made entirely vegan with vegetable broth as the liquid and some type of tofu meat sub as the protein); baked mac and cheese (no meat - but watch out for those who can't have dairy or gluten); shepherd's pie (one meat, the other using vegan ground beef substitute); a tamale casserole with a vegetarian base and a cornbread topping; an Indian dinner with a selection of curries, some meat, some veg; soups made with vegetable broth; chili (one meat, one veg) with rice or cornbread and a bunch of toppings.

                  I do have some large-scale recipes, if you're interested. I know you were hoping for thematic food, which none of this happens to be. But when you're feeding young people, you'll have enough complications to deal with already. Just my two cents worth.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Nyleve

                    Good points. I will make my refried beans vegetarian just in case. There aren't any low carb or gluten-free kids, miraculously enough, but I'm not sure they all eat meat, so I'll leave out the bacon fat from my beans.

                    1. re: Isolda

                      Good solution. But if you haven't already specifically asked the kids about their dietary weirdnesses, I'd suggest that you do. A lot of them don't like to make a spectacle of themselves and won't volunteer the information unless directly asked about it.

                      Have fun - they will LOVE you!

                      1. re: Isolda

                        I would also offer Black Beans, just in case.

                    2. Mock foods, because in "1984"nothing is as it seems. Mock apple pie, Mock Pecan Pie, etc.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Antilope

                        Mock Pecan Pie? Can you tell me more? Is it anything like the Ritz Mock Apple pie??

                        1. re: mamachef

                          Haven't tried these...

                          Mock Pecan Pie using grape nuts

                          Mock Pecan Pie using oatmeal

                          Mock Pecan Pie using oatmeal

                          Mock Pecan Pie using grape nuts

                          Mock Pecan Pie using pinto beans

                          1. re: Antilope

                            Holy Salad, Antilope!! I have never seen anything like this, and now I'm going to have to try it, one of the Oatmeal versions. I'll let you know how it turns out, if you like.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              My computer's a slowpoke so I did not look at the linked sites but here's a link to a recipe for Oatmeal-Coconut pie that I posted on CH. I made it for a gathering - everyone thought it was pecan pie made with chopped rather than whole nuts.

                            2. re: Antilope

                              Don't forget the "Mock Baklava" from the side of the box -- IIRC, "split Nabisco Shredded Wheat biscuit, drizzle honey, sprinkle nuts" or something like that.

                        2. ooh - how about some Victory Gin-Ger Ale?? :-)

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: Violatp

                            That sounds as if it contains alcohol - no school would allow it!! Illegal as can be!!
                            OTOH, if it's just ginger soda? Hey, why not?

                            1. re: mamachef

                              Exactly! You know, just Canada Dry or Schweppes or something (or go fancy artisanal if there's the budget for it!) but call it Victory Gin-Ger Ale. Just a fun play on words. :-)

                              1. re: Violatp

                                Yep yep. I love really gingery pop myself. A friend went Jamaica this year and brought me two six-packs of a fabulous, spicy gingerale. I stingily parcelled them out to myself, treating it like hoarded treasure. :) I so wish I could renenber the brand name, but I was so invested in the my miserly hoarding that I didn't really look at the label. :)

                                1. re: Violatp

                                  You're dealing with underage kids - things get very touchy around matters concerning drinking, innocent or not. If I were you, I'd avoid this like the plague. Believe me, I'm no puritan about this. My kids drank at home, well underage, and if their friends wanted to have a beer at our house, we were ok with that. But you're talking about a school environment and you don't know how some psycho parent is going to react when her child comes home laughing about the "gin"-gerale they drank with dinner. There is absolutely no need to wade into that quagmire.

                                2. re: mamachef

                                  Surely ginger ale and ginger beer are non-alcoholic. So, a good way to link to Orwell's "Victory" without running into any under-age alcohol issues.

                                  By the by, the Jamaican one may well have been "Old Jamaica", which is very spicy (perhaps a tad too spicy)

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    No I knew that, of course. My point is that people can be hyper-sensitive and overly politically correct about anything that seems to even remotely associate young people with drinking culture. All you need is one parent to freak out about a lighthearted play on words that jokingly relates a totally innocent beverage with one that contains alcohol and you have a mess on your hands. I say this because I have seen people go ballistic about all kinds of stupid things and in a school environment you just don't know who you're dealing with.

                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                      good grief -- we're talking about ginger ale.

                                      1. re: Nyleve

                                        I forgot that Americans often have this weird attitude towards alcohol.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          lol, yeah, sex and guns too, but thankfully those don't come up much around here. :)

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            I'm not an American. And it's not my attitude. I don't care about the ginger ale part of this. I just think it's unwise to reference an alcoholic beverage - even if only by name - in this context. I don't give a flying hoot what anyone does in the privacy of their own home but I do know that, yes, some people - Americans many of them - have a weird attitude toward alcohol. Drinking age is 21, over there, fercripesake. You can vote, go to war, have 5 children and get married and/or divorced several times by that age.

                                            My comments were only to protect the OP, who is planning to feed a group of young people in the best way possible, from unwarranted attack from the lunatic fringe. You only need one idiot to ruin an otherwise wonderful occasion.

                                          2. re: Nyleve

                                            Nyleve, this is not a politically correct school at all. (It's a private Christian school), so I'm fine with Victory Gin-gerale (my son loves Schweppes). Also doing Big Brother's chocolate rations ("no complaining or you'll die like Parsons' uncle").

                                            What you're saying is completely true of the public school we left two years ago! You're right about the lunatic fringe, but I haven't encountered it in our very small and welcoming school!

                                            1. re: Isolda

                                              Good to hear. Thanks for saying that. I'm sure you'll have a real hoot doing with this.

                                    2. So long as you call it "Victory", anything should fly.

                                      But how about Googling on 1980s food and do something "genuine"? Then spin it that the book became reality?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Thanks, Harters. I lived thru the 80s (as did you, I'm sure). How much raspberry vinegar can a person eat?

                                        And I think we're living more Aldous Huxley's Brave New World than Orwell's 1984!

                                        1. re: Isolda

                                          Ah, yes, raspberry vinegar. So glad that is now consigned to history. That said, I am getting mighty fed up with balsamic vinegar everywhere these days.