02 May 2011

Gypsy Kitchens: A Campstove at Last

We have put off buying a campstove for a long while. Not because we didn't want one - we really did - but because we couldn't find the right one. Finally, after about a month of searching, we came to grips with the fact that they simply don't have what we were looking for in Europe. Well, who cares. Our new Campingaz Camp Bistro one-burner is great. Two nights ago, at our campsite in Meierskappel, near Lucerne, we used it to cook a delicious, extremely fast meal of spätzle with tomatoes and sardines.
It was a Sunday dinner that was put together from things that we had lying around the car and that we could find at the local Coop store by a Shell station. We were unprepared for how closed down Switzerland is on Sundays - the Coop was the only food market we could find, and it was somewhat limited. The sardines we had, along with oil and garlic and the spices we used. I am now not entirely sure what seemed appealing about these fish when we bought them. They were entirely serviceable in our dinner, despite what they looked like. We bought tomatoes and an onion and - a miracle - a package of fresh spätzle. We won't bore you with the details of the supper. This post isn't really about what we made, but about where and how we made it.
We are often asked why we don't put more pictures of our accommodations on the blog. Most of the time, unfortunately, the places we stay aren't all that interesting. When it's warm enough, though, this is our home. A little tent for a bedroom, a little table for a kitchen and some kind of grassy spot in between.
It's exciting to have some means of cooking with heat. Whenever we've camped, the smells of various suppers cooked in the RV's around us has made us envious beyond belief. Cold salads and sandwiches are nice enough and satisfying to a degree, but we always long for the scent and sound of a sauteing onion.
Here's the dinner we made on Sunday. In retrospect, it looks a little dense and simple. At the time, however, it made us incredibly happy. A new chapter had been begun, we felt, and visions of a summer spent barefoot on the grass, spatula in hand, leapt into our heads. Last night, of course, it was hailing. We ate glumly indoors, our kitchen packed away, our tent miserable and sodden in the elements.
A quick note about the food - the spätzle was cooked without water, using only the liquid from the cooked tomatoes (they were cooked, the piece on top is garnish) and olive oil. We flaked and added the sardines at the end, so that they wouldn't get too mushy. It was much better than it looked. Then again, everything cooked outdoors tastes great.

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