The Fireside Chat – July 2019

“Light a campfire and everyone’s a storyteller”- John Geddes

Food, and the preparation thereof covers a wide spectrum of tastes  and skills on any South African outdoor excursion. The ritual of spending time around a fire on a cold winter’s evening is a treasured highlight of the day, where stories tend to get bolder as the narrator is lubricated by a glass of his favourite hooch.

Camp cooking has two extremes; the rudimentary “tin of baked beans” occupies the bottom rung of the culinary ladder,  the other extreme being the five course dinners served with the style and aplomb you would expect at a Michelin rated French bistro. Most fare dished up around a Bushveld hearth will happily fall in somewhere around the middle. Two items that are non-negotiable at a given alfresco dinner are a potjiekos and the making of “braaibroodjies”.

Potjiekos , a slow cooked stew is prepared in a traditional three-legged, cast iron pot. Recipes are varied, very often passed down from generation to generation. These are jealously guarded instructions not to be meddled with. “Braaibroodjies” are grilled sandwiches toasted on a fire, their traditional filling being the “Holy Trinity” of tomato, cheese and onion. Again fool with the recipe at your peril.
Even in outdoor related literature cooking can occupy centre-stage. Robert Ruark, who needs no introduction to the readers of our newsletter describes the subtleties of a meal in a way that has you reaching for a knife and fork.

South African fly fishing writer Tom Sutcliffe, has, in his latest book “Yet more sweet days” goes into depth regarding streamside meals.

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