We attempt to answer an age-old argument often heard as night approaches and attention turns to grumbling bellies.
First things first. There’s no concise way to answer this question without provoking howls of protest. Some will always plump for a piece of meat seared over naked wood flame and others will attest to the convenience and luxury of a kitchen-style set-up in the middle of remote bush.
Below are the top five attributes of each alternative. We’ll leave it to you to make your own decision.
What possibly compares to being able to quickly and conveniently pop on a one-pot stewed wonder, set on low simmer so meat is fall-off-the-bone-tender, after a hard day trekking up hill and down dale? Well, possibly a warm shower with soap or an ice-cold beer or wine, but a nice clean food prep surface and easily adjustable heat knobs is up there too.
Twist gas, adjust knob, adjust desired heat intensity and hey presto! Your food is ready for cooking. No axes, no bending over and picking up twigs. No muttering under your breath about green wood, no recoiling in startled horror as a giant hairy spider attempts to dart from a woodpile up your jumper sleeve.
Pots and pans are designed to be positioned on a gas hob. They sit straight, don’t tip over and don’t end up covered in thick black carbonised residue you have to scrub off with steel wool.
Remember, way back when you were small, when someone told you sand or mud from the bottom of the river was the best way to clean off stubborn greasy residue?
What a load of old cobblers! A kitchen sink with detergent is much better. (click here for how to clean the water tank)
I don’t know about you, but stumbling around a campsite on a cold winter’s morn with the acrid stench of last night’s roaring bonfire, mingled with the burnt odour of uncle Fred’s burnt jumper is among the most unpleasant features of outdoor adventuring.
As well, picking through the ash of last night’s fire, retrieving half incinerated cans and other rubbish before you depart isn’t exactly joyful.
A gas bottle and pack-away kitchen completely remove these onerous tasks from a typical comping retinue.
Ahhh the sight of a flickering orange flame underneath an ink-black sky dotted with stars. Move your campfire chairs even closer, drop a simple grate over some glowing embers and sear up a steak with onions.
Marshmallows for dessert?
Also: Billy tea boiled fresh over flames. Enough said.
Select the right wood and you have a ready-made gourmet BBQ opportunity ready to go. Just add prime fillet.
Choose Mallee root, fruitwood, hickory, spruce or good ‘ole mesquite for an authentic BBQ flavour hit. It’s a lot more fun than twiddling knobs and provokes ample time to discuss the relative virtues of each wood while savouring a cold stubbie.
Nothing curls chest hair more than clambering about the bush chopping and hacking wood, arranging it into a pile then applying well-honed fire lighting skills to generate a flame.
Stand back and allow your nostrils to flare with pride. This is what separates man from beast. It also allows man to cook beast.
Warning: Make sure you actually light the thing. Nothing uncurls chest hair faster than a fire that splutters out to a pathetic tendril of ever-diminishing smoke.
Fork out for a simple grate, a billy, a camp oven and maybe a couple of firelighters and that’s it! No need to scare the horses with a gargantuan bank overdraft just so you can fanny about with an apron and fancy pots and pans.
Whoever heard of a campsite without a fire? If you’re going to make the effort to make a fire, why not cook on the bloody thing too? A fire keeps any weird and woolly creatures of the night away too, plus your doggies, if you bring them along, will love you even more.
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