Eating on the road is not always a gourmet experience: it’s part of the give-and-take relationship that you’ll need to accept if you choose the unconventional travel route. While cycling and rafting, we didn’t have the option to carry every ingredient under the sun with us, and we sure as hell didn’t have a temperature-regulated oven: we made due with what we had and what we could carry. I’d say the most clutch things that we had on us at all times were the spice box and a bottle of olive oil- you can make anything delicious with a little cayenne pepper and some mixed herbs. Dried goods and vegetables that last, like potatoes, were the staples of our diets for several months, and we all handled the physical challenges of our adventure amply on that nutrition. To be honest, I was pretty much over potatoes towards the end, but overall I was pleased with our culinary escapades. During the day, we would usually eat things that didn’t need to be heated, as cooking on a beer can stove can be a bit time consuming. However, it was nice to make a fire each night and prepare a meal together. When you’re forced to put a little time into your cooking- and maximum effort to keep the sand out of your food- the meal is so much more rewarding. Here are some of my favorite camper-style dishes from the road.
Sweet berry porridge: For me, a hearty breakfast before a long day of cycling was crucial. Porridge costs about 1 Euro per kilo, making it great for feeding the masses. Although it takes a bit of time to get water boiling when you’re using a beer can stove, it’s definitely the best way to wake up in the morning. We picked our own fruit in the wild, so we were never in short supply of berries. Just be careful not to pick the poisonous ones.
Egg Sandwich: Carrying eggs is a risk when you’re cycling on rocky forest paths. We got lucky and found a few in the bin while skipping in Germany. Since we always had bread on us, we had the makings for an easy lunch. This time, we also added a potato patty for some extra sustenance.
Cous Cous: Easy to cook grains are great for the road, and a box can last for a few meals. While in Amsterdam, we had a picnic in the park with our beer can stove saving the day again. I made this cous cous with peanut butter, coconut cream, sliced, dates, and curry powder.
Lettuce Wraps: If you’re carrying lettuce, you can make anything into a wrap. Although grains and dry food last longer and are easier to store, it’s always nice to have fresh vegetables, especially when it’s 90+ degrees and you’ve been cycling up-mountain (“hill” doesn’t do it justice) all morning.
Potatoes: potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes. That was my life on the raft for 15 days. At 2 Euros a kilo, though, you can’t really go wrong. We would boil a bunch at night, and then have them to snack on throughout the day.
Pasta: Although I’m not a huge pasta fan, it’s certainly economical. As long as you have your pack of essential herbs and some vegetables, you can make a great pasta dish.
Stew: After a long day of autumn rafting, it’s nice to sit down (or squat, rather) around a fire with a beer and a hot dinner. Stews are great way to feed several people, and as long as you have a storage container, you can easily reheat leftovers. Cooking a stew over the beer can stove would surely take hours, especially if you’re cooking something like peas or rice. Best to save this dish for the open fire.
And if you’re lucky enough, you just might even find a stash like this in the bin behind a grocery store.