Bare skills: The do’s and don’ts of camping food…
Summer’s here, the weather is… half-decent, and school isn’t back until September. That means hoards of us will be making frantic trips to Millets to get supplies and gear together for that most wholesome of leisure pursuits: camping.
Given the right mix of location, company and climate, it’s is a truly unbeatable activity. And what better way to take your camping flex to the next level than with some world-class food? To get the score we got on the blower to Josh Sutton, aka the Guyrope Gourmet, a Yorkshireman who’s dedicated his life to quality cooking outdoors. “I had a revelation at a farm shop at a campsite – when you’re camping you have a fresh supply of great food,” explains Josh. “When you’re camping, you needn’t be eating processed tinned food: there’s no reason why you can’t cook really decent food.”
So, here’s the Guyrope Gourmet’s top tips for easy, delicious eating on a camping holiday.
Pack a decent kit
“It makes the job much easier,” says Josh. “It doesn’t need to be specialist. You need a knife, chopping board and a stove, preferably with two burners. If you’ve got a grill that means you can have toast – that’s invaluable. Just pack the stuff you’d have at home.
Having a ready-to-go selection of spices and seasonings can be a boon too. “I’ve got an old ammunition box which has got herbs and spices: thyme, basil, herb de Provence, paprika,” reveals the Guyrope Gourmet.
Take a meal with you
Save the palaver of fumbling around in the dark when you arrive by doing the hard work in advance. “We’ll normally drive for three or four hours, arriving late. If you’ve got something like spag bol or a good rich soup you can have it when you arrive, then have a bottle of wine and watch the stars,” says Josh.
Campsites are usually located near some can’t-get-fresher meat and fish. But don’t leave it hanging around. “The issue is storage: you’ve got to eat it on the day! A coolbox isn’t up to the job,” says Josh. “Ambient food is good: chorizo, sausegnone, salami: it’s good because it’ll keep without a fridge.”
Be careful with fire
Most campsites don’t let you have fires – but some will allow it, and have fire pits. “There’s nothing better for a fire than having a good old natter round,” says Josh. “I use a washing machine drum for a pit. When they flames have died down you can barbecue off it – but don’t try it until the flames have died away!”
Never bring your barbeque into the tent
Even when extinguished barbeques can kick out a bit of heat – but don’t bring it into your tent for you to warm up, even if you think the flames are out. The results could be fatal. “They release carbon monoxide, and there’ve been fatalities from people bringing their tent in to get a bit of heat. Even if you think it’s out, don’t,” warns Sutton.
Split the washing up
We know the feeling: darkness has fallen, you’re a couple of tumblers of vino rosso deep and the stars are looking delightful. The last thing you want to do it face a mountain of washing up. So, rope in your pals to get stuck in too. “If you get two or three of you to do it together it’s a lot easier, and you can make it part of the experience,” advises Josh.
Take a look around
Wherever you pitch up, find out what’s the regional delicacy and seek it out. “In Aberaeron there’s a lovely campsite and a superb fishmongers. The Yorkshire Dales is great for lamb. Norfolk has cromer crab, and in Scotland there’s lobster. Find out what the local specialty is,” reckons Josh.