May 28, 2007

Cuisine and camping

Somebody has a picture of a hamburger on their blog. Big picture. Big burger. And they are giving it (the burger, not the picture) a review.

Which is something you'll probably not see on my blog. A food or restaurant review. I don't know what things are called, and my cooking is more a la short-order cook than chef.

Thing is, my relationship with food is simple: If it's there and I'm hungry, down it goes. I was raised to eat what was before me and to try anything once (which I still do, short of those deep-fried spiders and live octopuses, but I have eaten dead octopus). I am even more willing to eat if it doesn't require any work on my part.

Here's the funny thing: I will happily cook on my stove for you and go through all the preparations and clean-up. I do not get the charm of skewering a hot dog and holding it over a campfire (I get sitting by a campfire and watching red glows wink off into the dark as they rise above the flames), or finally threatening a BBQ into a proper temperature and throwing dead animal parts on it. That sort of thing frustrates me. Watching the same slab of meat broiling in a restaurant is a happy scene, and makes me look forward to the food. Cooking out-of-doors doesn't. (I am so out of step with Norwegians on this one!)

I don't mind picnics. Ready-made sandwiches packed and squished in a container along with utensils in glorious plastic and plastic-coated cardboard, investigated by the local six-leggeds, that I like! Nearly the same, was the type of food and the way it was served on the boat trip I took recently. Norwegians love seafood buffets. Typically, the shrimp is served whole, i.e. with head and legs and ectoskeleton and feelers, so you have to cleanse it yourself. I know how to do that, but here is possibly the real reason why I don't enjoy certain aspects of "roughing it" with food: You can't time when you actually get to eat because of the unpredictability of preparing it first. Cleaning enough individual shrimp to actually get enough to put on a slice of bread takes time and is very messy (and smelly). So since I knew I wasn't going to enjoy that, and likely get frustrated before I'd cleaned enough to actually make a meal, nor eat any crab or lobster, I bought a seafood (!) sandwich at our fish market on my way. Got my shrimps and salmon in that. And questions from everyone, but they understood my explanation. :-) (And I did have the mussel bisque. Two bowls.)

I'm not sure why I'm a picky eater when it comes to the outdoors version but I do see a parallell to something else many people enjoy: Camping. I remember chuckling at a girlfriend who owned only high-heeled shoes and boots, buying her first pair of trainers in order to walk a trail with a new boyfriend. I have always owned footwear for trails (if not for muddy ones), so it's not like bugs and twigs bother me. But the idea of pitching a tent appeals not one bit to me. Tents are stupid.

My grandparents had a pop-tent. A six-sided feat of engineering and design that I haven't seen matched before or since (not that I keep up with the world of camping equipment, but now I see only four-sided). The drawing here comes close to what our tent looked like. It was like opening an umbrella. You slipped the rods into each of the six sides, raised the thing up to standing, spread out the six sides and tent floor, then pushed down the top and voila! A canvas igloo, with room for two sleeping bags. I'd set that up by myself in the summer in the backyard, but I never slept overnight in it. Most other tents I see used require a committee and possibly an aerospace engineer to set up. Whatever it takes, it's too much work.

But I'll stay in a cabin with no indoor plumbing. I am not bothered in the least by outhouses, the old kind with a wooden seat over a hole in the ground. I grew up with that (and we even had to fish one of our kittens out of it once - mind the gap!).

So there's a limit to my enjoyment of roughing it. I'm either lazy or sensible. Can't decide which. ;-)

9 comments:

alice said...

I'm with you. I like cooking, but I don't see any reason to make it harder on myself than it needs to be. Cooking on a grill in the back yard is one thing (I'm fine with that), but having to build a campfire and then figuring out how to make stuff cook evenly, or peeling stinky shrimp when there's not a sink right there for hand washing -- that's a bit much...

Mark said...

We have a tent like that. They still make them. In fact, ours is big enough to stand up in, sleeps eight (not that six other scruffy campers are GOING to, ever, and I am reminded that I need to get our camping gear out for the upcoming summer.

Thanks!

Keera Ann Fox said...

Alice, there are times when shrimp-peeling is part of finer but then they put out a very nice bowl of lemon water to dip your fingers in. Works great.

Mark, is that twosome in a six-sided tent? ;-)

Miz UV said...

Camping, no ... s'mores, YES!! But you can do those at a beach bonfire and still come home to your own bed.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Alice, insert "dining" somewhere in my comment to you.

Paula, the nice thing about s'mores is that they hardly end up black on the outside and raw on the inside.

Joe the Troll said...

How would one eat a live octopus?

Keera Ann Fox said...

Ah, Joe, you're in luck! I just saw a re-run of the "CSI: NY" episode that describes "gather the tentacles together and wrap the octopus tightly around the stick". Swallow whole. (Followed by re-enactment of live octopus meeting stomach acid. Animal cruelty, IMO. Eat your meat dead, people!)

Webmiztris said...

first of all, poor kitty! that would be the worst!

I've stayed in a tent, like the one you described, before. I didn't enjoy it. Any time I've slept in a tent overnight I woke up soaked. Definitely not my idea of fun! Now cabins? That's more my style. If a bear comes along I want slabs of wood between us - not a few yards of nylon....LOL

Keera Ann Fox said...

You and I are so in sync, Dawn!

As to the kitty story (I actually still feel a little bad whenever I think about it), it probably deserves its own post, but uhm, the detail about how we even came to figure out where the cat was, is one reason I've never written about it. ;-)