I have many memories which combine my loves of food and fire. The combination of the two things are one of my most favourite pairings.
It’s not that I would choose to have everything I eat cooked over coal or burning ember. Sometimes the connection is not so literal – drinking a beer beside a roaring fire in the early chill of autumn is one of my favourite activities of the year. The pop, crackle and warmth of an early winter burn makes the soup I eat beside it only taste better.
Some of the connections, of course, are very intertwined. I remember coring apples and stuffing them with brown sugar before wrapping them with tin foil and throwing them in a fire for a prolonged visit before enjoying a fireside desert. I also have a found memory of snorkeling in the Atlantic ocean, collecting mussels off a dock and surrounding rocks before cooking them in seawater over burning driftwood while watching sunset.
A different kind of fire burns in our modern ovens and through coils of my stovetop (I am without the luxury of gas, for now). I remember occasionally cooking on an old wood burning cook stove at our cabin as a child and marvel at what’s happened to our kitchens in the last 100 years.
My sweetest memories are from Boy Scouts and hunting trips where we cooked our own dinners over an open pit of coals. Fire pits offer a unique feature not available in a modern kitchen – the 360 degree cooking surface. Communal meals can be prepped and cooked in the middle of a conversation and the chef never has to turn their back on the waiting diners. The cooking becomes the focus and not a mere task or errand.
To this day I still cherish this act and recommend that everyone makes time to go back to this ancient technique from time to time.
Sometimes fire is just a great after dinner activity. A way to digest, to enjoy. It’s a wonderful host to a group of new acquaintances as was the case on Halloween for us at Grassroots Organic Farm. The fire pulled us in and we found ourselves meeting strangers that we hadn’t met earlier – despite the fact that we were all gathered in a relatively small space for hours before.
The crew had an old and broken upright piano that had been around the farm for many harvests. It was the feature of the evening (emptied of moving parts and undesirable melty-type things J). A pumpkin-headed scarecrow took it’s position at the keys and lit the night sky.
Pull up a chair around our fire and enjoy with us – I’d love to hear any of your fireside stories about campfires and food in the comments!