Why does food taste so much better when cooked – and savored
– outside? The American part of my soul loves camping, for the outdoors, the beauty of nature, the escape from civilization. But also because of the food.
Somehow when camping, life becomes simple again. Life slows down. For a couple of days, life becomes about sleeping, eating, enjoying and savoring the moment, absorbing the surroundings, being in touch with nature. The basics of life, really. The things that make you feel grounded, and tend to get diminished by the rat race of 21st century life. Perhaps it is because we are (willingly) forced into this contemplative state
that our senses are enhanced and we can enjoy the food, the process of cooking and enjoying it, so much more, it seems.
These are the things I was so excited to share with Pablo on this camping trip to the Sequoia National Forest, and he had a wonderful time, though it is the natural state of a toddler: being in the moment, absorbing the surroundings, his life being about sleeping, eating and enjoying. Is this what the essence of childhood is? I suppose it makes sense he was a natural at camping then… He was probably thinking of me all frantic to get organized and packed and in a hurry to go slow down in the woods, thinking to himself, “Of course that’s what life is about.” We have so much to learn from our children. We are forced to outgrow this state, to then grow to seek
and rediscover it. Life is all about cycles, isn’t it?
This longing to “get back to the basics”, to the simplicities of life, must explain why I was so excited when our dear friend D mentioned she and her ex-husband used to make bread while camping. Making bread. Just
saying it makes me feel grounded. Over the campfire! The pioneers from the Lewis & Clark expedition come to mind.I feel the dough in my fingers. I smell the smoke and heat from the fire.
Food has a way of connecting and reconnecting people, and it’s exactly what it did here. D contacted her estranged ex-husband to obtain the bread recipe, and they were able to reminisce about the good memories around that bread and find closure in acknowledging these happy times together. I love how food touches our lives this way, as a symbol, as a token, as the companion to the ups and downs of life. When Pablo gets a bit older, I will love telling him that story, it’ll make the bread taste that much better. That’s one part of the education of taste: to us, that bread will always have a tinge of healing and joy in its flavor. Recipes get passed from lives to lives, like happy ghosts of nostalgia, carrying our journeys, spreading them like ashes, feeding the soil for new growth.
For a simple and nutritional lunch open-faced sandwich (called “tartine” in French), I used a wonderful Tomato Jam made last week, some
mozzarella and avocado…
Even if you don’t go camping, you can make this bread over a
fire on the beach, or on the barbecue at the park! It tastes like a scrumptious American biscuit, and a bite out of it might just make you feel like the pioneers who helped build this country – à propos for a July 4th!