Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Epicure’s Guide to Camping.

On Friday we had an interesting segment from Instructions to Young Sportsmen: In All that Relates to Guns and Shooting, by Lt. Col. Peter Hawker (London, 1830.) The intrepid author had more to say on catering for hunting, shooting, and fishing expeditions, which I thought would inspire the camping epicures amongst you – although you already probably take tarragon vinegar and stone jars of anchovies along on your trips, dont you?

Having now mentioned the few things that happen to occur to me, as deserving the small space they would occupy in the baggage of a sportsman, who we all know is sometimes in an exile, where he might die before he could get medical assistance; I shall just note down a few articles as desirable for his comfort, as the foregoing ones might prove for the preservation of his life; viz.

Canastre tobacco, or cigars.
Cayenne pepper.
A pot of anchovies.
A phial of lemon acid.
A bottle of the best olive oil.

With these ingredients, and half as much knowledge as usually belongs to all our old campaigners, he may perfectly enjoy his dinner on fish, flesh, and fowl, in those wild places where they are most abundant, but where we are the least able to have them dressed in perfection. For example:—

There is no better sauce for a wildfowl, plover, or snipe, than equal quantities of olive oil and lemon juice. Cayenne pepper, when mixed with a little vinegar, gives a fine relish to a pheasant, or any other game. With good oil you can, in most places, during the fishing season, have a French salad made with the young leaves of the wild dandelion; or, in the shooting season, a German salad, called in some parts of Germany, I believe, "kartofel salat," with slices of cold boiled waxy potatoes. Either of these, with a few onions, an anchovy, and two spoonsful of oil to every one of vinegar (or equal quantities of each to the German one), make a very good salad; or, at all events, a good substitute for one, where perhaps the lettuce, cress, or endive, are scarcely known to the inhabitants. Tarragon vinegar, for salads, is generally preferred to the other vinegar. (Let me observe, by the way, that the chief art of dressing a salad consists in wiping perfectly dry whatever it is made with, and cutting off the flabby parts from the leaves of the herbs.) If you have no good butter, for your fish, you will find, that with a little cayenne, a spoonful of the liquor from your anchovies, and some lemon, or vinegar, olive oil, and mustard, it will be perfectly good. Nothing is better than a dish of small birds fried, and eat with oil and lemon juice; and if you have no good butter to fry them with, here again some oil must be your substitute.
If you have no biscuits to eat with your wine, or, what you may drink for want of it, cut some slices of raw potatoe very thin; have them broiled, or fried, brown and crisp with your oil, and sprinkled with a little Cayenne pepper; but, in dressing them, let the slices lie independent of each other, or they will become soft by fermentation. If you wish for a hash, or any thing dressed by way of variety from plain cooking, you can always give it a flavour, if you have cayenne, lemon, and anchovy.

In short, the ingredients here named, as general acquisitions to your eating in comfort, will be found, I trust, some of the most useful; and I therefore need add no more, as I neither profess, nor wish, to gratify the palate of an epicure; but have merely attempted to show, how one man could make himself comfortable, where another would starve, by the foregoing hints to young caterers and young sportsmen.

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