Camping food

I’ve thought about writing about camping food before, because it is completely different than normal, everyday cooking, but doing a post about such a summery thing in the middle of winter seemed a bit weird to me, and after that I forgot about it. Until last week, when I saw an episode of “De Makkelijke Maaltijd” (the easy meal) on 24Kitchen (a Dutch food tv channel) about camping cooking. They claimed that the dishes they made would be perfect as camping food, which annoyed me massively, because they obviously weren’t. There were problems with hygiene and food safety, utensils and pantry ingredients, prep work and the amount/time of cooking. This inspired my to do a post on camping food after all.

A few things to take into account with camping cooking and camping food:
– Hygiene and food safety: usually you don’t have the possibility to refrigerate anything, so you need to buy stuff that doesn’t spoil during the time between buying it and cooking it. For example, seafood is out of the question, unless you can buy it very fresh and prepare immediately (i.e. when you are at the seaside and there is a seafood stall nearby). Also, you don’t have running water/hot water near your tent, which makes handling raw meat and poultry quite tricky. That is why I only buy meat and poultry that I can dump straight into the pan without having to cut it or anything. This way I don’t have to manoeuvre myself to a toilet building with chicken on my hands without touching anything while taking soap and a towel with me (try to open a tap and put soap on your hands without contaminating them…. its impossible). And I don’t need to worry about getting food poisoning the next time I use the cutting board either (usually the hot water at campings isn’t very hot, which makes it quite impossible to clean your cutting board well enough).
– Utensils and pantry ingredients: usually you don’t have lots of space to take lots of utensils and pantry ingredients with you. 24Kitchen assumed you would have a grater and a garlic press with you, which is quite absurd, as using garlic and ginger is as well. We take plates, mugs (that double as bowls), knifes/forks/spoons, a small cutting board and a small cutting knife, a can opener, a bottle opener, a set of nested cooking pans, a frying pan and a wok. Furthermore salt, pepper, paprika, curry powder, garlic powder, dried Provençal herbs (all in small canisters) and a few stock cubes.
– Prep work/cooking time: after a long day of fun (or laziness) you don’t want to spend lots of time on cooking. Either because you are tired and hungry, or because you are lazy (being lazy is an important part of vacation!). So the things you make need to be easy and fast. Also, you don’t have a nice countertop to work on, you either have a wobbly table, or you need to work on your lap or the ground. So the less prep, the better. The less cooking, the better as well, because you only have 1 or 2 burners and usually the gas cans empty quite fast. So use any shortcut you can think of, at home you can make everything from scratch again, but now it is vacation.

A few ideas:
– eating out
– bought rotisserie chicken and salads (also perfect for picnics)
– omelettes (egg, bacon, mushrooms, onion, paprika, spices/herbs) and bread
– cheeses/sliced cold meats/canned fish/rillettes, mayonnaise, cucumber, tomato and bread
– pasta with crème fraîche (or equivalent), a can of tuna or sardines, a can of vegetable macedoine
– fried potatoes (precooked), a hamburger (or other kind of meat) and bought salads
– rice with bacon, onions, mushrooms and curry powder

A final note: what fun is holiday if you don’t eat like the locals? Take a look on markets, in deli’s or the supermarket and be amazed. There are so many delicious things available!

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