As a child, I spent most of my holidays with my grandparents, but whenever we went away with my mum, we would be camping. As a toddler, we had the comfort of my grandparents’ small caravan.
When I was 11, my mum bought her first car and the following year, a large tent. Our tiny Peugeot 106 would be filled to the brim with camping gear, people – my mum, me, my younger brother and our dog.
We could really have done with tips for newbies. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing and I vividly remember our first time. After what seemed like a long drive with no air-con, radio or SATNAV but open windows, lots of chatting, singing, making keyrings woven from multi-coloured plastic threads and getting lost (those were the days!), we finally got to Longemer in the Vosges.
We were shown to a bare camping spot just a couple of metres away from the lake, with its uneven ground and yellowed grass. We proceeded to take the tent out of its bag for the very first time, following the instructions religiously as we were going along. My mum must have panicked when she realised quite how big our home for the next three weeks was. She was also juggling it all with an excited puppy, a toddler and a grumpy pre-teenager…
To top it all, the terrain was not ideal for pitching a tent. By that, read ‘more rocks than soft ground’ as we were desperately trying to get that monster of a tent up. By the time the sun started descending on the horizon, it was getting dark, the mosquitos were having a feast and the tent was nowhere near built. It started drizzling and my mum, on the verge of tears, mentioned retreating to the car for the first night.
Our camping neighbours, all seasoned Dutch campers, started helping and within an hour or so, we were all set. Panic over. Needless to say, if you get a new tent, I would strongly advise you to practise pitching it before your big camping adventure.
Amongst my fondest memories of our camping holidays are those extended shared aperitifs with camping neighbours all bringing nibbles, drinks and chairs for a large, communal pre-dinner extravaganza. On cold, rainy days, my mum would warm up a carton of soup and the warm liquid seemed like the best meal in the world with rain pouring down the sides of our tent.
Putting together a delicious meal outdoors is pretty special. Getting back to basics, focusing on great ingredients and being all together brought me so much joy, and so many special memories.
Whoops, I got a bit carried away, didn’t I? So, without further ramblings on my part, here are 10 ideas for yummy camping food. These are all meals and treats you can make with minimal equipment, a camping gas hob and / or a disposable barbecue.
1- A good old Fry up
2- Korma Curry With Rice
3- Boiled Gammon and vegetables
8- Jacket Potatoes on the Barbecue
9- Chocolate Bananas