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Other characters only get stew, which is oddly omnipresent. In her satirical travel guide to fantasy literature, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Jones jokes that stew "is the staple food in Fantasyland, so be warned..."

I'm a novice cook, but if you've got a hodgepodge of foraged ingredients, some kind of stew is definitely what I'd be making. Hard to imagine an intrepid adventurer having the time or equipment to cook much else.

I mean really, when was the last time you cooked a perfect omelette or steak over a campfire on the lam?




There’s another big factor: soups and stews maximize the nutrients you get from your ingredients. If you fry a piece of meat you’re losing some fat, if you boil and drain veggies or meat you lose a lot. If you throw everything into a pot and stock/soup/broth is part of the meal, everything that went in goes into you. Soups and stews are also excellent ways to utilize preserved meats which need rehydrating, softening, and can make use of their salt content. Legumes and pulses pretty much require that treatment as well, and can thicken a stew or soup.

Aside from equipment there is just the reality of nutrition.


Also stew is culturally omnipresent. Every culture has stew, so it makes sense it would be omnipresent in fantasyland.


From my understanding, French kitchen gardens are called 'potager' gardens, which stems from soup/food cooked in a pot. I suspect that a lot of historical cooking was 'heat some liquids and what you have on hand in a pot'.


It’s also a good way to get some sterilized water into your system.


That's still how I usually cook, more or less.


Steaks can be cooked on a stick. Omelettes can be cooked in a can.

The last time I ate campfire-cooked pizza was over 20 years ago, but it was still a pizza. The most annoying part was carrying the oven over the portages.

It folded up, like Skidbladnir for cooks.


This is about foraged ingredients though. How do you forage flour to make a pizza dough?


A lightweight bushwalking oven would be great. Fresh bread.


There are plenty of options, from a dutch oven (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_oven) to a light weight pot or even some al-foil.

Damper (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damper_(food)) is an Australian tradition that can be cooked on nothing but campfire ashes.


Dutch ovens are necessarily really heavy aren't they? To spread the heat uniformly. Though there's a "camping" one at that wiki link, I wouldn't fancy backpacking it. The aluminium one they mention would be lighter, but still not very light (for same reason).

I'm not sure about alum foil, but sounds worth a try. the melting point is high enough, but so thin... There's a (NZ) maori tradition of roasting by wrapping meat/veg in leaves (foil would do), then burying in coal and heated stones. Might work for bread, too?

If the idea of an oven is uniform heat (idk, is it? IANAC), that buried in coals & stones seems pretty good, with foil to keep ash out. If hot air is part of an oven (again, idk), maybe a little space at the top could constructed too.

When I've attempted damper, I've lost a lot, in the form of charred skin. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.


> Dutch ovens are necessarily really heavy aren't they?

I think they just feel that way because we hold them extended with one arm. In a backpack with tonnes of other stuff I doubt it would be that noticeable. I've mostly used much thinner pots and found they work well though, the al-foil approach too.

> If the idea of an oven is uniform heat (idk, is it? IANAC), that buried in coals & stones seems pretty good, with foil to keep ash out. If hot air is part of an oven (again, idk), maybe a little space at the top could constructed too.

The main thing is you want the charcoal to cool a bit first, not red hot straight from the fire, then the thickness doesn't matter and it will be uniform enough.

There's a chance I could be forgetting some stuff here because it's been a long time. If you've got a wood fired BBQ (not many do anymore) they make an ideal testing ground every time you have a BBQ, that's where I learned my craft as a kid.


I think they just feel that way because we hold them extended with one arm. In a backpack with tonnes of other stuff I doubt it would be that noticeable.

Cast iron dutch ovens weight about 30lbs. How much do you normally carry in your backpack, that 30lbs would not be noticeable?


The pizza was done in a reflector oven.

There's a horizontal panel to support the food, a 45-degree lower panel to reflect heat upward into the food, and a 45-degree panel to reflect heat downward into the food. And then there's some wirework to keep it upright next to your fire.

It all folds flat and slides into the pocket of your pack normally reserved for the ballistic armor plate. Maybe it isn't designed for that, but few other things would fit in there. Maps, perhaps?

There may be another way to rig the reflectors to reconfigure as a solar oven.


Sounds like a bit of practice is needed! Don't have a BBQ, so will practice on-trail. Did you bake bread this way? (I feel it's less forgiving than, say, a roast.)

The arm increases weight percieved, but I really mean "ultra-light" bushwalking. e.g. my tent (a "bivvy") was less than 1kg. So... even a regular saucepan or frying pan is over-the-top in weight! Alum foil is more "ultra-light". :)


In most fantasy worlds aluminum, if it exists at all, would be a luxury item less common than gold. You need some very modern infrastructure to refine aluminum from ore in useful quantities.


"I mean really, when was the last time you cooked a perfect omelette or steak over a campfire on the lam?" About a month ago. I was raised in the forest cooking trout we had caught the same day. Sometimes wed even do dutch oven cooking for city-slickers who got hunting tags. Cast iron can make some of the best food you ever tasted when done right.

I'll give you an example of one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ_ly0Ja394

Camping doesn't have to mean bad food! It can mean even better food than normal! (I also a vote for damper , which I call aborigine bread, it's great for snacking on the go)


Dutch ovens wouldn't be practical in many fantasy settings.

The main issue is the length of time it takes for things to cook. You've got to get a fire going for coals which takes time and also alerts potential enemies or predatory creatures. Most folks traveling around in fantasy novels aren't undertaking their journeys as pleasure tours and usually they're traveling through dangerous areas.

Likewise even for nomadic peoples who might find the time to use it, a cast-iron pot would be an extreme luxury given the weight.

So I think dutch ovens in a fantasy setting would probably serve the same purpose they often did for your family: serving foppish urban aristocrats tasty food whilst afield!

I agree that dutch ovens are capable of truly remarkable food.


You linked a video of a man making... stew.


You must taste this stew. You want steak instead? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuMMa1-VhQg Learn some fire safety while you're at it.


I have no objections to stew. I love stew! It's just ironic.


Prospectors have been known to take sourdough starters to make bread: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourdough#History

On the lam, no. In a team with a waggon or two to carry flour and a dutch oven, absolutely.




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