Let’s Talk About Fire


It’s that time of year, my friends. It’s getting cool enough to tolerate cooking by a campfire, and the nights are coming on fast enough to urge us all to gather closer to the light and share our stories as we eat. But on what shall we dine? A few simple ideas:

Fresh fish.

If you are a fisherperson, there’s nothing like fish from the stream or lake, and when you’ve only just pulled it from the water, it needs little dressing or effort. River trout, salmon, catfish; there’s nothing more local than what’s in the water that’s lapping at your feet or rocking your boat. All it needs, after dressing (a subject a bit too complex for this post, but very manageable, even for the squeamish) is a bit of lemon, salt, butter, and a hot pan. Or a hot rock, if you really want to rough it. Mind the bones, of course, and it’s always a good idea to cook wild food thoroughly to avoid various kinds of unpleasantness, from bacteria to parasites. But it is delicious in a way that very little else can be.

Not ready for slaughtering your own? That’s fine. Bring it with you. Large slabs of meat are impractical for the open fire, but all manner of kebabs are amazing, and can be stored in marinade on the way to the campsite for extra deliciousness. This variation can accommodate vegetarian/vegan diets as well — just bring whatever you like and some long skewers, with a shaker of your favorite spice mix, and you’re golden. Cut everything before you leave, marinate in whatever is good to you, and gather around the fire. Let everyone build their own skewers with what they like. Help the little ones, as the skewers are sharp, and you want to avoid cross contamination, and let everyone tell their favorite fireside tales. Every circle of friends and family has them, and this is the best way to share them.

American readers will be startled to hear that s’mores are not well known across the pond, and as a service to our allies, we are obligated to share the goodness across the Atlantic at every opportunity. Whatever you may hear, there is one correct way to prepare a s’more: Put a marshmallow on a stick. Set it on fire, and let it burn, blue and bright, until the outside is bubbling and black. Apply chocolate square to a graham cracker. Squish the marshmallow off between the chocolated graham cracker and a plain graham cracker while still molten, so that it partially melts the chocolate. Eat, burning the tongue, and getting sticky strings of marshmallow everywhere.

This is the only way, and I will hear of no other. Not everything in life can be made safe and tidy.

Embrace change, and the coming dark nights, dear readers, and stay close to each other. Eat well.

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