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c-chan's guide to con cuisine

I would have called this 'Con Survival on $5 a Day,' but then i realised my budget didn't cover that. Good luck.

Otaku at conventions are human too, just like everyday people who don't watch anime. Sometimes they eat and drink. Not as often as you'd think, but sometimes.

If you can afford to, by all means, eat at restaurants. Frequent the snack bars. Stop reading this; it would only embarrass both of us. You know as well as i, though, that anime merchandise is expensive. A belldandy body pillow is a week's wages for most of us. Faced with a choice between food and a 'piyo piyo' t-shirt, i would take the shirt. Are you a true otaku, or are you ruled by your stomach?

Hah, i thought so. ONWARD!!

Now, start with the free, legal sources of food.

Some hotels include breakfast in the room cost. With a little forethought, that meal can easily sustain the otaku thoroughout the day. Choose foods with plenty of protein. Avoid sugar. Skip drinks.

That said, make sure to drink plenty of water during the day. Axiom: the best place to conserve water is the body. It keeps your energy up. You're stronger. Assume at least a small glass of water per can of coke, probably more, since you can't rely on the fluids from food to make up the difference. Besides, water is free and kind of filling, even if the hotel water does sometimes taste. . . funny.

Very occasionally, the con will provide a hospitality room open to all attendees. It goes without saying that these rooms can be jewels beyond price, affording not merely free food and drink, but also a place to rest, drop stuff, socialize, and nap.

Remember that volunteers usually get some food, too. There are also usually other benefits to volunteering, like crash space and admission refunds.

Then there are leftovers. . . probably not for the finicky.

Most con hotels have restaurants in their lobbies. Usually these are protected only by the most token of fencing, and otaku can sit at a table for hours without fear of eviction. The little slices of lemon that you get with your water can go a long way. Also, people tend to leave french fries untouched on their plates, and you wouldn't want those potatoes to just go to waste. . .

One important source of food is the leftovers from room service trays. Disneyland has great after-dinner mints. Frequently people leave behind on their trays rolls or slices of toast, along with butter pats or small jam containers. These are excellent snacks and more filling than you'd expect. Waste not, want not.

And then there are desperation tactics. . .

Sometimes the con will provide a (technically staff-only) hospitality room. I've found that the people running these rooms are extremely friendly and generous, willing to offer a handout, as long as you respect their absolute authority. Be polite and pathetic. If they refuse to feed you for any reason, remember: They can do that. They run the show.

Given the limited finances of most con attendees, petty theft is an option. Hotels sometimes put out buffets or hold dinners for special events. I advise emulating the cel thief in otaku no video. 'It's easy to just walk in, say 'good morning', and score. I would never steal cels that haven't been shot yet, because that would slow the production of series that i want to watch.' In other words, don't go in and take food before the meal, but during and after are fair game. Also, these meals sometimes have bottles of soda or such, which can be saved for consumption during midnight madness runs.

If you are skilled, lucky, and totally immoral, you may wish to bear in mind that the hotel kitchens are sometimes understaffed, and usually unlocked. This is, however, theft. Don't do it. There are many far better options.

Finally, you could always plan ahead, bring some food. . .

Remember that otaku are social creatures. One might even accuse them of a herd mentality. If six people buy ramen in bulk, they each spend about a dollar, and get enough ramen to last them through any convention. Your circle should cooperate in these basic necessities. What are friends for?

I require about 8 cans of Coca-Cola per day to remain functional during a con. The cost to buy that on-site is prohibitive. Make sure that, if you are dependent on any particular food or drink, your supply is assured beforehand.

Also, as a social otaku, people will be willing to share food with you if you're showing anime. Cosplayers may get preferential treatment. Sometimes free swag from the dealer's room also helps in cadging a meal from your not-so-lucky friends.

Don't forget room parties. Chips? Salsa? M&Ms? All vital foodstuffs.

It's not as hard to survive as you might think. The mighty hunter. . . The otaku in his environment. . . He cannot help but find sustenance, be it in the form of food, caffeine, or anime.