Backcountry Cooking: How to Eat Like a Chef

camp cooking

When I was a kid, our neighbors, who were consummate car campers, would always say, “There’s nothing like eggs and bacon in the morning on a camping trip.”

They were right. Waking up in the woods, shaking off the morning chill, getting some coffee and a plate of camp style eggs and bacon was like five-star dining. It’s all about comparisons. Backpacking on the other hand used to mean a can of beans and probably some trail mix. It was all utility, sacrificing the finer stuff of vacation for the rustic experience.

Next came freeze-dried entrees promised good eatin’ on the trail, but when we consider the value of nature we seek in a backpacking trip, there’s no reason not to bring fresh ingredients and a skilled culinary hand. This, I believe, enhances the backcountry experience on many levels.

I went on a canoe portage trip with a Frenchman once who brought along bottles of red wine and pate on little tins with French writing on them. We enjoyed both on a white cloth he’d spread on the ground – in grizzly bear county, no less. And he became offended when a fellow camper offered gummy worms.

“No, no!” he protested. “We are not done with the pate!”

To his French mind, placing gummy worms ahead of pate was a breach of international protocol. We can take a lesson, at least, from his love of finer foods while roughing it. Below are some examples of ingredients that are easy to carry and simple to prepare. Of course, bringing raw meat such as hamburger or pork chops into Bear Country is not what we’re advocating (but who would do that?)

Instead of typical utility food, consider bringing fresh onion, potato and spinach, butter and eggs, with a collection of spices like cayenne pepper lemon and garlic. With these simple ingredients and with a little practice, you can enjoy a fine brunch on the trail. Poach the eggs using the lemon as the acid in the poaching water, whip up a hollandaise with the butter and eggs, and make a light hash with the veggies. It’s one thing to be out in the wild, but imagine the enhanced experience when you pull off such a dish out there.

For dinner, some pasta, a tomato and some of your garlic will go a long way toward a romantic Italian dinner. In fact, a chunk of baguette will round out the feast nicely. Of course, for all these culinary options, the right beverage is always welcome. Choose what you wish for your trip, and remember to see the wilderness as a wild place worthy of a refined palate.

© Mirek1967 | Dreamstime.comTime For Dinner Photo