The Art of Al Fresco Dining

Since I was a nipper I have always loved cooking outdoors. From about the age of 10 in the summer hols, I regularly used to sit outside my one-man tent & skillfully manage to weld a sausage, or piece of Spam, on to an aluminium frying pan, with a little help of my little Camping Gas stove – a little blue contraption with a twisty nob thing that allowed the flame to be ‘Off’ or ‘Mount Vesuvius’ (I can still hear my dear old Dad muttering to my Mum – “Don’t worry darling, his fringe & eyebrows will grow back in time”).

You see for me, there is definitely something mentally invigorating & pleasantly challenging about cooking & eating out in the cuds. To get my drift, imagine it is a beautiful day & you are out for a bimble. Suddenly your brain goes into full “Feed me now Seymour” mode. What is the first thing you do? Ignore the pangs & carry on plodding? Stop immediately? No, your brain tells your eyes to look for ‘the spot’. Now, finding ‘the spot’ isn’t easy. In fact, yours truly has been known to carry on for miles, in the hope it is just around the next corner. But there are a few essentials that the spot has to provide: It has to have a flat-ish perching place (to position ones’ derrière & possibly a stove). It has to be at least 50 metres away from another human (unless they are with you that is – “I say old chap, would you mind buzzing-off over there while I cook my noodles, what?) & most importantly, it needs to provide visual sensory stimulation in the form of, umm, nice & interesting things to look at, so to speak. The spot just wouldn’t be ‘the spot’ without a great view.

So now you have found ‘the spot’. With your buttocks suitably perched & being far enough away from those who may want to converse prior to, or during, the act of eating, you now reach inside your rucksack for the veritable Smörgåsbord that you have prepared in advance. Or maybe not. As you sit basking in the tranquility of a beautiful day, marvelling at the splendid vista that lay before you, you remove a dodgy, over-seasoned supermarket sandwich??? (FFS, just what is wrong with people – author bangs head against imaginary wall)

Now I’m not saying you need to have a full-blown, Michelin-starred experience on the edge of Pen-y-Fan, but if you make the effort of finding ‘the spot’, at least make the effort of bringing some proper food to cook & eat when you get there. Believe me, eating steaming hot, fresh tortellini with local chopped sausage, on the slopes of Monte Grosso, is something I would definitely recommend.

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