We wrote in our previous blog post about how we arrived at cooking as our ‘puzzle’ for attendees to do. But why are we so enthusiastic about potato rostis?

You can’t crack an egg slowly

We’ve tried various recipes at different events over the last few months. The idea is that as you’re cooking you ask your partner a couple of questions about themselves.

Our first recipe was drop scones, aka Scotch pancakes. We picked these because they’re really simple to cook. Too simple, it turns out. One of the first problems was that cracking an egg didn’t take very long, not nearly as long as two people answering what their favourite food is. This led to one of two things happening: standing awkwardly around a cracked egg as everyone answered questions, or moving on to the next step which messed up all the timing. Neither was ideal.

Fine tuning the cooking

What recipes like this helped us understand was what cooking means to this meeting.

We noticed that when people got to the step of stirring the batter they would happily stir for 5 minutes, even though it only needed about 30 seconds. People clearly liked having something to do with their hands while they were talking.

We also learnt that recipes cooked on a hot plate were by far the most conducive to good conversation, because everyone can sit around it and chat to each other instead of awkwardly standing at a cooker. This also helps with logistics, because it means a host doesn’t need to have a kitchen or a hob, just some chairs, a table and a power socket.

Making sure that people didn’t have to stand up during the event was also key. Having everyone sitting made for a much more communal feeling, rather than trying to maintain a conversation with people running around grabbing this or washing up that. Getting people to stay sat down is hugely important to keeping that communal feeling, so we created a detailed list of every item required for an event that should be on the table at the start. including a bucket to put dirty equipment into so people don’t feel the need to disappear and wash up as they go.

Röstis are amazing

Given those needs, Potato Röstis are pretty much ideal. Peeling and grating potatoes is the perfect sort of activity to chat over, they only need one hot plate between a few people to be cooked, you don’t need heaps of kitchen equipment to make them and the ingredients are really cheap (we can even picture groups growing their own, but that’s a long way down the line).

We’re certain there are plenty more recipes that meet these requirements, and we’ll try out more in the future, but röstis worked brilliantly for now. Now we’ve locked that down we’ve been focusing on other parts of the process.

In the meantime, if you have any recipe ideas that meet these requirements, we’d love to hear from you!

Code, Digital Transformation & Politics. Previously @uklabour Digital, Corbyn leadership campaign, @justice_digital, @gdsteam, @berglondon, @rewiredstate.

Code, Digital Transformation & Politics. Previously @uklabour Digital, Corbyn leadership campaign, @justice_digital, @gdsteam, @berglondon, @rewiredstate.