Bear with me here, we’ll get to the Foodie Bits soon. This was originally intended to be the first of a series of articles on Real Food and Wild Food preparation, but when the Muses call you off on a tangent, it is wise to follow them.
We’re All Food
Anyone familiar with Human history should be aware that the bounty most of
us enjoy in contemporary societies is a statistical outlier. As recently as seventy years ago in the United States, most of the population was regularly underfed, especially those who had migrated from rural areas, where self-sufficiency and thrifty management of resources were required just to survive. Very few individuals in the so-called developed West understand what it means to subsist with what you are able to raise, hunt or forage for yourself. Those of us who do have learned to subsist by choice, through extended withdrawal from modern conveniences, infrastructure and factory-farmed foodstuffs. This is the most frightening aspect of the likely social collapse on the horizon. Unless you’re a redneck, hick, hermit or some type of sharecropper, you’ll likely be toast within days when the Shit Hits the Fan.
Why? Because unless you have intimately lived with Nature, and understand that there is nothing particularly special about nekkid monkeys (Fundamentalists of any and all stripes take note) in the Web of Life, other than our incredible capabilities to destroy all life. Having spent over a year living in the wilds of Michigan and Louisiana with little more than my fishing/camping gear and a couple K9 Masters to guide me, the ultimate lesson is that we are all food. Mummification and Formaldehyde and supposedly hermetically sealed coffins don’t matter at all. “Nature finds a way,” is one of my favorite quotes from Jurassic Park; it’s short, to the point and has been proven since the first slimes crawled out of the clay on this planet.
This is not something to be fearful of, it is as natural as your first and last breath. Most fears are based on ignorance – not implying stupid, but in terms of its original meaning, “a lack of experiential knowledge” So where does one gain gnosis, or experiential knowledge of Nature and our original relationship to food? Here’s a hint: “Wifi? What the Sam Hell is Wifi?!” Oh, it’s nice to read an article, book or watch a documentary about living in the wilds and think that you learned something. In many cases you do learn some things, but this is conceptual learning; not experiential learning. The only way to learn about Real Food, is to experience Real Food. Food you’ve raised, hunted, captured or gathered on your own. Is conceptual information valuable? You betcha! Only an idiot would attempt certain activities without some preparation in concepts, basic practices and guidance. A century ago, few people completed what we would term Middle School, let alone High School. The bulk of their life skills were (and are!) practical skills! Not Cube Farm skills, but skills that can be put to use to keep you and your kin alive year in and year out! How to care for livestock. How to prepare a field or garden for planting. How to design and fashion basic tools. How to repair just about anything. Medical care beyond First-Aid including the extraction of teeth, setting bones, reducing a fever, herbal medicine, midwifery and so much more. This would be a good time to remind people that depending on the study you choose, Medical Mistakes are the second, third or fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
I’ve Never Met a Woman Who Can Cook as Good as I Can
I was born in Detroit, raised on the cusp of a rural area (which of course no longer is rural) and have chosen numerous times to retreat into the wilds to commune with Life in Her most natural aspect and have a special appreciation for foods for a number of reasons. Being raised in a New Money family, good home cooked meals and exceptional prepared meals on the menu on a regular basis. I was also blessed to have a grandmother who loved to cook, and loved sharing her Old World recipes and techniques with her grandson, a very eager and studious pupil. Although this was the early sixties, there were not any bizarre gender role prohibitions related to food, because my father loved to cook too and had owned a Diner years before I came along. His favorite meal to prepare was Sunday Breakfast Kitchen Sink – along with the typical bacon, eggs, hash browns or “Hobo Potatoes” – All left-overs in the fridge were removed and became some type of breakfast item with little more than basic condiments. One of my favorite Kitchen Sink breakfast items was Fried, BBQ noodles. The leftover noodles were tossed into a skillet with butter, then doused with BBQ and Hot sauce, then stir-fried until crispy at the ends yet al dente everywhere else.
Did I mention that I am a Picky Eater?
I still am, which is likely an underlying reason I love to cook, too. By being the cook, I don’t have to risk the cooking of others! How am I picky? Let me count the ways:
- Meats should taste like meat. I drink wine, meats sweetened with wine is Food Polution;
- I hate eating fat. I don’t like the mouth-feel (gag me!), but I have no problem cooking with fats or fatty cuts of meat. I usually give the fat scraps to my K9 Masters, but years ago, after preparing a beautiful Corned Beef brisket, as I was trimming the meat the woman I was dating forked a six-inch hunk of fat and shoved it in her mouth. The dogs and I kicked her to the curb.
- I love eating lean meats. Remember when the Flintstones used to take a bite out of Pterodactyl drumstick and all you could see inside was meat? That’s what I wanted then. That’s what I want now! My favorite Beef, Lamb, Pork, Game and Poultry are all the leanest cuts, so I’ve adapted ways to assure they are tender and juicy as well as flavorful. (You’ll see…)
- Garlic, Salt and Peppers are gifts from the Gods.
- Don’t Fuckin’ Break the Pasta! If you think it’s too long, cut it on your own damn plate. Asshole.
- Cook it fast or cook it slow, there is no happy medium. Stir Fry fast! Smoke and simmer forever.
- Raw meats are wonderful! You think Sushi is good? Try some kibbeh nayeh! Raw, spiced, ground lamb! The second best gift my Lebanese ex-lover ever gave me.
- Spinach goes in or with almost everything.
- I’m not into sweets or desserts with one exception – Chocolate anything. Don’t you dare add anything but richer or darker chocolate to my dessert!
Sound a little OCD to you? Should we ever meet you’ll find how incorrect you are. Laid back, open minded, yet secure in my Anarchist ways, gentle yet a proven fighter, lover, no time or energy for hate. As picky an eater as I am, I’ve eaten squirrel within hours of it being shot out of a pine tree, most creatures of the lakes, rivers and seas, a wild turkey that I put out of his misery after a family hit him on a forest road, turtle, and even day old leftovers garbage-picked after some church group’s celebration down by the boat launch! Yes, we have tales to share.
Recipes Ahead – On the Road and In the Wilds
Call this a Teaser Trailer. Having established a bit of background, I’ll begin sharing some of my favorite recipes with a twist – All of these can be prepared whether you are in a Rest Area, campground or in the wilds with some basic and essential ingredients and utensils. Since I’m still a few months away from embarking on the Boot-Strap Expat adventure, photos will unfortunately be of preparation in a household environment, but all instructions and supplies will be the same ones I use when in the wilds.
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