My dad was once horrified to hear me say that the two best things about bushwalking are the food and the company. I think he has a stronger appreciation for the adventurous aspect of it than I do. I do enjoy the scenery and the wildlife and that’s why I go walking in the first place. Nonetheless while I can eat and chat at home, I like to be able to eat and chat while bushwalking too. The food on a bushwalk always tastes extra yummy because you’re seriously hungry. This is a bit of a mixed blessing. Sometimes hunger can give you the ability to eat horrible things that you wouldn’t consider reasonable at home, like cheesesticks, 5 minute macaroni cheese, bizarre combinations of chocolate and salted nuts…
I’m currently planning my longest bushwalk ever and trying to set a menu for three. We’re going to be out for five dinners and we plan to do our cooking in a single billy on a gas burner.
There are lots of things to consider here, most of them relate to the weight of your pack and not to the taste of the food. Ideally I would like to optimise both these parameters. You also have to be able to store the food without refrigeration for the better part of a week. Washing up will be no fun either, since soap is discouraged, I need to be able to most of the cleanup with a scourer.
To minimise weight you want
- to use as little gas as possible, short cooking times are favourable
- to use dried foods where possible, cans are heavy and produce bulky garbage
- have sachets not glass and avoid things that might leak
Now if all these requirements in combination with a desire to eat nice food is starting to sound impossible, let me show you what we had last time.
This risotto was made with rice, basil in a tube, sundried tomatoes, snow peas, pinenuts and cheese. It actually tasted pretty good and was far easier to clean off the billy than the block of Mexican hot chocolate we boiled up for dessert. Now all we need is four more meals of the same calibre and some cheese that will last a week.
To come up with a plan for our meals I went out for lunch with the Gourmet Runner and her sister. Everyone else in our office invited themselves along, even though they won’t be walking with us. They had a good time making suggestions for what they thought we should eat. Some of the suggestions were even useful. The Gourmet Runner and her sister are Chinese-Malaysian-Aussie and had quite a few suggestions for dried foods I wasn’t familiar with. I haven’t seen laksa paste in a sachet before and I didn’t know you could get powdered coconut milk. Both of these are small revelations compared with the novelty of meat floss. This dried minced beef with sugar, salt and chilli surprised me by tasting quite ok. James was once served it on a plane in a sachet labelled “contains shredded beeves”. Obviously if the plural of leaf is leaves, the plural of beef is beeves.
So here is our planned menu. We’re planning to have an indestructible vegetable like snow peas or beans with all of these meals. Hopefully you can’t get scurvy in a week. We also need to decide whether it’s worth taking some oil for frying onions in terms of both ease of washing up and danger of spills.
rice, sundried tomatoes, tube of basil, pinenuts, cheese
rice, cinnamon, cloves, almonds, raisins, coconut powder, onion, garlic
pasta, dried porcini, chilli, salami
rice noodles, sachet laksa paste, coconut powder
rice, stock cubes, onion, garlic
Does anyone have any suggestions? Do you know of something light and flavoursome that doesn’t need refrigeration? and what’s your favourite gluten free flat bread?