Outside magazine, July 1996
With apologies, I ask all you connoisseurs of fine food to hold the outrage. Blasphemous though it may be, someone has to stand up for the more practical-minded among us. You know, the folks who by now must have just one incredulous thought: "Huh?"
Sure, there's a nice irony to the notion of one-upping Mother Nature, of spending a hard day slogging through a leech-infested bayou or scrambling up scree slopes, only to sit in the dwindling light to a meal of roast duckling and a glass of precocious chardonnay. It makes a bold statement: We've survived your worst, but we remain civilized.
And yet there are still those of us--blame it on the absence of ambition, imagination, or perhaps a crucial strand of DNA--for whom the very point of going camping is to return to a simpler way of life. We prefer to enjoy that simplicity to its fullest. To scarf a PB&J as we continue paddling downriver. To reach for a PowerBar so we can keep at least one hand on the handlebars. To be overcome by the beauty of a rising full moon while others succumb to the tearful duty of dicing Vidalia onions. Where else can we eat this sort of modest fare without a trace of guilt? In the backcountry, with compactness at a premium and calorie-counting pretty moot, we can revel in the one-pot ease of ramen noodles, the one-knife modesty of a hunk of sharp cheddar, the utensil-free minimalism of a pouch of Pop-Tarts. Give us not angel hair with a hearty lamb ragout; give us spaghetti with plain, watery Rag÷.
There. My piece is said. I may be dragged to the gourmand's gallows, but at least I know that my work here is done. Rejoice, uncouth brethren. Hold your heads and your summer sausages high!