It used to be that a fire, a rock, and maybe a screwdriver, were all the implements an outdoorsy person needed to prepare dinner or a tasty snack. Some minimalists didn’t even bring a screwdriver, using old nails or even more rocks to open containers. Today’s outdoors folk, however, are a different breed with different needs. Some require ovens, pans, zesters, and appropriate stemware. Some prefer their meat refrigerated and their melons balled, and more than a few of them would never dream of sitting outdoors, in the dirt and among the bugs to consume their culinary creations.
These days at Fish in a Barrel Pond, we provide manual can openers and corkscrews and even electric mixers (good luck finding the beaters), but some
showoffs well-outfitted anglers arrive with their own spiral slicers, immersion blenders, infusers and ramekins. A few have even learned to bring their own stemware, but that is not to say things were especially primitive back in the old days, as shown by this ad that appeared in the March, 1964, issue of Outdoor Life magazine:
Extra dry or regular, the perfect martini was sure to be the perfect complement for everyone’s favorite snack, advertised in bulk, in the pages of Field & Stream, June, 1963:
Bacon has always been a popular meat around camp and, back in the 1950s, Swift’s came up with an ingenious way to keep it fresh and convenient.
It says HEAT BEFORE SERVING but also that you can eat it right out of the can. Be careful, though, that can will be hot when it comes off the fire! When the bacon is gone, go green and use that can again, perhaps as a vessel for a highball or an enjoyable cup of coffee.
Then, just chuck the can into the woods when you’re done.
But what about folks who prefer to not cook in or eat and drink from cans by an open fire? Thanks to Heinz, a fellow could use a pan, a plate, a spoon and just pretend.
Of course, some folks enjoy cooking and eating what they catch themselves, and Outdoor Life had something for them, too, in the same issue as the Martini Tester.
There’s lots of wiggle room in that fish stick recipe, including an allowance for shapes other than rectangles and, with directions that verge on “Cook until done,” it’s the kind of recipe dedicated outdoors people can really sink their teeth into, especially after a few martinis.
Times have changed. Paellas and souffles are as likely to be served these days as beans and bacon and not many people keep and eat what they catch any more. We’re not sure what this group of guys had in mind in 1963, but we’re willing to bet it was tasty and didn’t require utensils more specialized than a couple of sharpened sticks:
Thanks to advancements in food preservation, supply chain management and far-flung trade agreements, the 21st Century outdoors person is spared the indignity of sitting in the dirt, chewing jerky and eating from a can and we find some interesting food items left behind in the refrigerators at Fish in a Barrel Pond. Some are actually quite tasty, if you like those sorts of things, but sometimes we wonder about the palate of today’s modern angler.
At least we have another year and a half to decide whether to try it or not, but we don’t believe folks like Corey Ford would approve, although he might be among the first to grab a rock.
(Corey Ford was a heck of an outdoor writer, contributing to Field & Stream for 20 years. The guys who did layouts and typesetting hated him because he handed in columns with not a single extra word they could take out to make things fit. His short piece “Just a Dog” has been known to make grown men cry. Quill Gordon is a big fan of Mr. Ford’s “Lower Forty” stories and recommends him highly. Any guy who could hang for the weekend with a dog, cooking bacon on a Coleman stove, and play cribbage on Wednesday with Dorothy Parker and Harpo Marx can’t be all bad.)