Freedom by foot

On the 9th of September 2011 we set out from England to the continent by ferry to begin our adventure in earnest. By foot we will make our way to the first destination, which is Milan, from there we will be flying over to Bangalore for an archaeological conference (as you do) and an escape from the harsh European winter.

At any and all points in our little wander we will be on the look out for interesting and exciting places and people to learn from. Our journey begins with a zeal for experiencing ancient and traditional life & new innovative ways of living for the future.

Roadside Recipes & Strolling Supers

This is a selection of recipes from our journey so far.

It is a documentation of our experiences with food. Not just cooking or feasting, but learning peoples culture and historical relationship with their food.

As we share with you the tasty treats that satisfied our hungry stomachs or captured our imagination, we will be writing the tastes that will linger in the memories of our future.

We are also sure that there will be more of them to come.

Rustic Rice of the Road

A bit of a mouthful for the name of a dish but that is what it always was. This meal was the real roadside recipe, the one that replenished us every evening and gave us energy for following day to come, our plates were heaped full and steaming and were often empty minutes later. We carried very few items of food with us, and as the walk progressed we exchanged items and tried new ideas. Some stuck, staying with us until the end; others didn't tickle our taste buds enough to gain a place in the backpack. 
Each evening we stopped, rested, talked about the days journey and when we had recuperated some energy we'd start to cook. Some evenings we camped where we could make a fire, relax and enjoy the cooking of the meal as much as the eating. Other evenings we cooked between torrential rain and ate lying on our bellies safe inside the tent. Though luckily these evenings were rare. 

Main method of cooking:

Build small fire or set up small stove (ours used methylated spirit or could also burn small sticks as fuel).

Add 250g of rice (125g per person - this seems astronomical now, however we were hungry beans) and a splash of oil. We always carried olive oil for it's flavour. We tried black split lentils and they were delicious however their effect on our bottoms did not agree with us sharing a tent. So rice stayed with us, and only twice did we have pasta (see bottom of page for quick recipe).
Put the pan on the heat and cook the rice for a while, keep stirring to make sure it has evenly coated in the oil. Add water, in our case cold from straight from our canteens, until the water is double the height of the rice. Put on the lid and leave 10 minutes for white rice - 20/40 minutes for brown or wild.  
Whilst the rice bubbles and steams away, getting our tummies hungry. We cut up the veg and other bits. We sat on our coats, cross legged with a wooden plate as a chopping board and opinel knife each. We cut up an onion, clove or two of garlic, a small nugget of ginger and what herbs we could find.
The herbs changed with our landscape and the seasons. To begin with we ate wild marjoram in its plenty, sage and mint.Thyme was our staple throughout as it was all we could find in the arid dry mountain sides, and  occasionally rosemary. 
We fried these bits up in hot oil whilst cutting up the veg, a small variety of choices that went between courgette, leek, tomatoes (though these traveled appallingly) and plantain, nettles or any other wild goodies that were surrounding our camp. Add the veg to the mix and cook until soft, stir in with the rice and serve. We ate every evening from our loyal wooden plates that Marc and Richard had made by hand on a pole lathe in Devon. Our utensils were made by hand too, a spatula spoon that I made and a beautiful little folk made by my brother Nick. We did have some salt and seasoning, to begin with we used bio veggie stock cubes, later we acquired a small jar of salt and pepper mix, tomato puree and a brilliant value discovery was 0.72euro Harissa, which we stirred in at the end. What a joy is was to have fiery spice back in our meals.Oh and also we once stirred in some soft cheese - a splendid idea!

Pasta: add to boiling water with a splash of salt or oil in. cook for desired amount of time, usually 10 minutes or so. cook veg and herbs as in the recipe above but add more tomatoes for a sauce. We also had onions, garlic, Camembert and black pepper as a sauce over penne. This was truly scrumptious. 
In fact it was also our last camp in Italy before heading off to a farm to work. We set up camp under the board walk in Ventimiglia, after deciding this urban coastal sprawl wasn't going to offer us any wild camping spots. However it felt safe and wild, like our own cave watching out over the sea. 


Rice/lentils/pasta, olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, herbs - marjoram and thyme is a great combination, leeks and or courgette. optional - stock cube, salt and pepper, tomato puree, harissa, soft cheese.

I suppose there are a few key things to why we really enjoyed this meal. Firstly, walk all day, maybe 25/30km or just tire yourself out somehow. Then ideally set up camp out in the wilderness, light a small fire and crack on with preparing dinner. Eat dinner whilst watching the world wind down, lights appearing in the distance and the dusk of the day settles. When we were walking it got dark about 8pm, even in September, so another splendid part of our evenings were crawling into bed at 7.30pm. We wrote in our diaries in the day's last light, massaged each others aching bodies and cuddled until the night was upon us.

This is no doubt a simple and adaptable recipe, our knowledge of wild foods definitely helped our meals to be more creative, but I'm not writing them down because I think they are wildly unique dishes, it's because they represent what you can create and enjoy with a minimal portable kitchen and how important simple foods become when it is all you have. 
These meals became an important and integral part of our journey through France and Italy.

Note: An appalling year for mushrooms as any French or Italian Grandmother will tell you!!!