Long gone are the rocks — and the intrepid rockers who
partied on at the barbecue championships, the Logger Sports Show in Squamish
and at the clubs and party houses that wouldn’t, couldn’t let a good pun down.
The boulders themselves that crashed from the flanks of Highway
99 last week have been blasted to smithereens and pushed into Howe Sound (how
sound was that?). Now all that remains are the memories of inconvenience and
panic in the face of shortages real and imagined. Yes, there were issues with
missed flights and meetings and a lack of fuel supplies, but when it came to
real food supplies, reaction outweighed reality.
“It was a real mental case — people thought they weren’t
going to have food for five days,” commented one local grocery store cashier.
But in fact, the food distributors’ trucks rolled on and on, with suppliers
even bucking up loads of milk and bread and meat together to make sense of the
7- or 8-hour trip from Vancouver through Hope and Lillooet and up over the
Duffey Lake Road.
Whistlerites are nothing if not intrepid — and ingenious
— so now, in the calm of the aftermath, is the perfect time to consider
what the heck you
do if the food
stopped rollin’ in.
Given the long distance from our collective hunter/gatherer or
even relatively recent pioneering past, we can barely imagine food that doesn’t
come from a store shelf. Maybe James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, the originators
of the 100-mile diet, come closest in recent memory when they ground 100-mile
grain for their own flour to bake bread. But that’s a rarified exception. Most
of us wouldn’t even know where to buy a hand-operated flour mill, let alone
which is the business end.
So not to encourage stock-piling — lord knows we have
enough of that in our shopaholic world — but to plant a seed or two in
the brain-chambers of eaters everywhere, here are a few tips on food that might
get you through an unexpected shortage:
All hail the biscotti
“Biscotti” means “baked twice,” originally from the French
“biscuit,” also meaning “twice cooked.” Along the same dried lines, there are
rusks from the Dutch, mandelbrot from Jews, zwieback from Germans, and biskota
and paximadia from the Greeks — all made to last.
The idea of drying out biscuits so they’ll keep from getting
stale or mouldy was a very good one in pre-IGA times when long journeys, war or
simply an extended trip to fish on the Mediterranean without refrigeration or
an Igloo cooler entailed using your imagination and some time-tested techniques
to keep supplies edible and safe.
Food authority and chemist Harold McGee explains that French
biscuits proper and English biskets were originally sweets that kept a long
time: small bread-like loaves made from foamed egg whites, flour and sugar.
Today, biscuits in England are what we North Americans would call cookies
— little, sweet, dry cakes.
The hard cookies from Italy known as biscotti are made from
lean dough leavened with baking powder, baked in flat loaves, then cut
crosswise into thin pieces and re-baked in a low-temperature oven to dry them
out. Lots of home-made biscotti recipes can be found on-line that will yield
delicious results that last for ages, perfect for cross-country camping or waiting
out the next road closure, dipping and sipping with espresso or tea, hot or
Fresh and frozen
Barring it’s not the end of the world and your electricity is
still on, your freezer even the little one above your fridge, as we saw last
week at Max and Marlene’s place, can be a great way to keep your own food
One of the smoothest tricks this time of year is to freeze
fresh berries. Whether you pick wild blackberries, grow your own, or head up to
North Arm Farm in Pemberton for some of their raspberries or blueberries,
freezing your bounty for times when fresh berries aren’t so plentiful is easy
You can use ordinary plastic bags (doubled is better), buy
freezer bags with thicker walls, or use plastic or glass containers, even jars
with tight lids. Just pick out the larger bits of detritus like leaves or bugs
beforehand, dump them in your container of choice and freeze.
The trick is NOT to wash them first. When you’re ready to use
them, grab as many as you need and rinse them in cool water. The water will
thaw the berries and wash them at the same time.
Strawberries do well if you freeze them singly on a pan before
you bag them. Raspberries will mush up to some degree, but blueberries and
blackberries hold their form and texture amazingly well. Any summer berries
will perk up you and a batch of muffins or bowl of granola on a cold winter’s
day, or during any emergency or inconvenience, real or imagined.
Don’t jerk around
Animal protein can be challenging during shortages, but such times
also offer ideal excuses for keeping a nice stick of
or a chunk of prosciutto
hanging in a cool, dry place like your basement. You’ll be amazed how often you
have to go check on it to see if it’s still okay.
There’s always the predictable supply of beef or bison jerky,
but the other meat supply, well, fish, really, that again does well in a
freezer is smoked salmon. It will keep much longer than fresh salmon and spare
you and fellow diners from that dreaded, old fishy taste if you do what we
sometimes do and inadvertently keep fresh fish in the freezer too long. (The
joke around our house is we could never buy a chest freezer because it would
turn into a post-modern midden — here’s that buffalo sausage we bought in
Quesnel in 1996; hey, there’s the freezer jam Auntie Helen gave us in 1974.)
A neat trick during road closures or otherwise is to slice the
smoked salmon when it’s still partially frozen to get those neat, thin slices
that will impress your buddies rockin’ on through the hard and not-so-hard
SLOW DOWN AND EAT UP:
for the hugely glorious Slow Food Cycle Sunday, Aug. 17, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
No pre-registration required — just show up with your bike and a good
case of the munchies at the Community Centre on Pemberton Meadows Road. To
learn more about local food systems and eating with a conscience, check out the
Anything Grows session 7 p.m., Aug. 14 at Millennium Place, moderated by
Pique’s own G.D. Maxwell.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer with a
weakness for storing food favourites.