Campfires are a portal, transporting us to those times when human beings lived solely among nature, accompanied by the sun during the day, and the moon at night. So deep is that connection to the nocturnal fire that even now, centuries later, we continue to go out into the forest to gather around it, sheltered under nothing but the stars.
Those who have been fortunate enough to go camping know that it comes with some discomfort – rain, wind, cold, sleeping on the hard ground – as modern life has pampered us and left us unaccustomed to the elements. But the reward for braving it? Hot coffee, roasted marshmallows, smoked sausages and other fare that taste better prepared over smokey wood. No one should be surprised that it is food that motivates us to endure all kinds of inconveniences.
But let’s stop with the mopey talk and get back to the food.
Food by the fire
Starting with the most classic of campfire snacks, marshmallows. These explosive puffs of pure sugar go overlooked in everyday life. When the piñata breaks, they aren’t nearly as treasured as the other candies that hit the floor and are immediately scooped up. But on a stick and lit up by the fire and surrounded in a blue halo… they are simply dazzling. Then there is the added pleasure of blowing out the flame, removing the singed crust and being left with a soft and melted hot center that sticks to your fingers and lips. And good luck removing that sticky residue without soap and hot water. All part of the fun!
As for the sausages, those delicacies of dubious origin, they are plenty tasty boiled or fried, but charred over an open flame brings them to a whole new level. The campfire requires that we cook them speared on a branch until blackened, and eat them directly after with whatever condiment we thought to bring with us, whether mayonnaise, ketchup, or mustard.
Finally, coffee is a must (especially after sleeping on that cold hard ground). To prepare it, hopefully we remembered a pot and a metal structure to hang it over the fire. Once the water is boiled, add in a bunch of coffee – stronger the better – as well as milk and sugar, for those who take it that way. It is best held with both hands for the full coffee-round-the-campfire experience.
So next time, dear reader, you attend a campfire, go prepared with these provisions and remember that food and fire is the essence of what connects us, to this world and as human beings.