After last year's craziness, we dialed Soup Swap back to 16 swappers and 15 soups. Casualty count was light this year, with the sole injury arising from socks on slippery stairs.
- The theme of the year was "two." We had 2 gumbos, 2 pea soups, 2 misos, 2 lentils, and 2 chilis. All were differentiated enough that repetition was no problem at all.
- The other themes of the year were "spicy" and "asian." At least half the offerings fit one of these categories, many both. Apologies to frf frf, who doesn't like either.
- "First sellout" was won by stripeyg for his hot and sour soup. He keeps winning "most popular" year after year. What is his secret?
- "Best telling" was won by mom, mostly by currying favor at not having a kitchen during the preparation process.
- "Best label" went to sg's "Monster Miso" because you can't lose when you put Godzilla on your soup.
- My soups this year were the (1) Angry Rooster (an aromatic siracha-based chicken soup perfect for opening the sinuses of sick people) and (2) Smack Yo' Ass Tomato Stew (a hearty vegetarian complement to grilled cheese just made for post-sledding). Both were spiced at "supermarket medium-hot", which deterred quite a few people and left both selling out in the last 75% of choices. Every year I promise myself that I'll underspice in order to increase popularity, and every year I just can't bring myself to do it.
- My greatest strategic error revolved around yuper's coveted sprout chili, which I stupidly skipped with only 1 remaining quart to pick another untouched offering. The rigors of hosting can make it very hard to strategize properly, so I missed out on a much-desired option. (She did very well, considering that she was the only newbie in the pack.)
- The "artificial scarcity" strategy continued to be popular this year, with both jt and countlibras preparing a split bill of 4 primary soups and 2 extra soups.
- I can't wait to try mw's linguica soup. 4 pounds of sausage? Sign me up!
Process changes this time around:
- Selection order reversed for the 6th round, forcing the swappers with the best initial seeds to take the last-chosen soups. This was well-received and struck most as fair. I may extend this next time by reversing order for both the 5th and 6th round.
- We assigned seeds as the swappers arrived and posted letters/labels on the wall. (best seen here) Soups on the swapping table were nicely sorted by letter. This was originally envisioned as a way to give label-makers a way to showcase their art, but had some ancillary benefits of providing a social focal point and enabled people to construct their pick-lists before the Telling. This was a new wrinkle, so only about half of the swappers brought an extra label. But I think it worked and will be repeated.
- An "on deck" circle encouraged people to be ready to pick as their immediate forebearer was making his/her selection. This had the advantage of keeping things quite snappy, even in a large Swap. Some swappers were surprised at how fast things went and some people said that they felt uncomfortably rushed. I may keep the "on-deck" concept next time, but will try not to actually rush anyone.
- Strict enforcement of the 1-swapper, 1-letter rule. Those who brought multiple soups assigned their physical selection to a proxy, which prevented confusion and gave everyone something to do. I think it worked, though it's a bit hard to explain.
Swapping is over. May the eating begin.