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Expedition Food By Peter Dignan

Author : Rubel Zaman

I have been served meals in the remotest of mountain ranges that would give some Michelin Star restaurants a run for their money. I have witnessed the production of culinary delights in tents no larger than Gordon Ramsey's dog house. Some food has been so mouth wateringly fantastic it has been hard to believe that it could have been produced in a tent at 5000 meters and on occasions I have found myself walking in blizzards searching for Michelin Star restaurants strategically hidden around the next glacier.

Splendid high altitude banquets have their origins in the early European climbers who would take small farmyards, a selection of the finest wines, whiskies and champagnes with them to altitudes well above 5000 meters. Some early expeditions cooked for themselves but soon it was the local mountain people who were hired as cooks to the larger expeditions. The skills and the mind sets learnt by the locally hired mountain people have been honed and passed down to every generation. The legacy that remains in mountainous regions of the world that are still trekked and climbed are a variety of cooks who have the amazing skill of being able to produce the finest fusion of local and European dishes in the smallest and worst of environments.

One of the finest mountain dishes I have ever eaten was a cheese and ham pizza on Kilimanjaro, followed by Banana fritters for desert. My stomach had not been in the best of condition due to acclimatisation but the pizza went down like a treat and cured my stomach. I went to the mess tent to thank the cook for such a wonderful dish. I half expected to find a small portable oven but to my surprise there was a small portable gas burner. I never did discover how the cook made a pizza in that tent and I often wonder if he had just dialled Domino's.

Like everything in life there is good and bad and I have also had my fair share of nasty meals while stuck to the side of a mountain. While in Nepal, I was leading a group to Mera Peak. We had been following the meat man for quite a few days and the large carcass on his back had been decaying slowly over the trip. The crows had started to gather and we half expected the meat man and his slab of dead beast to be lifted away by a murder of crows. Sadly this did not happen and eventually our Sherpa rejoiced in serving us meat balls. We all knew where the meat had come from and to the surprise of our cook we were unable to stomach the decaying carcass balls as we referred to them. All was not lost and the Sherpa's ate like kings that night.

I was once told that a good expedition cook is as important as a good guide. Moral can drop when the standard of food drops away. One night of bad food is funny but an expedition of bad cooking can make you give up the challenge and turn back before you even get the expedition goal in sight. The early explorers had it right. The better the expedition food, the better the moral and the greater the success of reaching the expedition goal.

Author's Resource Box

For information on a Kilimanjaro Climb then please visit Climb Kilimanjaro for Charity for a good cause and adventure.

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Tags:   Kilimanjaro Climb, Climb Kilimanjaro for Charity

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Submitted : 2011-06-24    Word Count : 576    Times Viewed: 449