A matter of taste

by Steve Galea | February 24, 2016
Camp Cooking Fish

I guess it was just about a week ago that the subject of my camp cooking reared its ugly head once again. My friend Dan and I were discussing another canoe trip into the back country to chase brook trout.

I remembered last year’s trip as being perfect. The weather was magnificent. The bugs were near absent. The portages were challenging enough to feel like you earned the right to be there but not so difficult you considered faking back spasms on the way out. Most importantly the fishing was great.

Even the portage from our campsite to the secluded lake we chose to fish was wonderful. That trail was etched with moose tracks and the rims of the gorge it passed through still had huge chunks of ice overhanging the edge. They were so big in fact, we wondered if they ever melted.

The path eventually descended towards a 200-acre lake filled with pan-sized brook trout almost too eager to smack the flies I was casting and the little spinners Dan threw at them. For three days we had that scenic place to ourselves.

These are the things I remembered most. Dan remembered how horrible my camp cooking was. His exact words were, “This time I’ll cook. You’re the worst camp cook I’ve ever met.”

As much as I hate to admit it, those are not the most hurtful words I’ve heard to describe my outdoor culinary talents. In fact, some people cite my shore lunches as another reason to practise catch and release.

In fact, some people cite my shore lunches as another reason to practise catch and release.

I’d be offended by these accusations, if not for the fact that I have come to realize edible means different things to different people. Sure, the skin on that trout was blackened. The body however, was cooked to a pinkish perfection.

For less demanding palates that would be more than enough. Heck, if you ask me, that level of quality is a minor miracle considering we cooked in twilight on an old frying pan over an open fire.

Dan’s taste however, was more refined. I immediately suspected this the minute he opened accompanying cans of corn and beans. He accessed the contents delicately, not once resorting to the use of heavy rocks or bloodshed to help the process along. Who knew I was dealing with a dandy?

In fairness, I have been known to be a little rough around the edges when it comes to this sort of thing.

Once at a deer camp someone left the pot of beef stew out on the picnic table for one frigid November night. Though frozen it seemed like a fine breakfast to me, but the others were horrified. They had a much warmer breakfast, but I got to my deer stand earlier.

OOD Gun Dog Editor Tom Goldsmith and I have spent a good deal of time hunting and fishing together over the years, so he knows my habits all too well. He calls me “a practical man,” among other things.

He says when I’m out there my focus isn’t on the niceties such as good food or comfort but rather on the purpose, which is to hunt or fish.
I think that sums me up nicely.

Even so, I don’t know what Dan is complaining about. If I’m not mistaken, brook trout have always been called char.

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