Dirty Dining - An Adventurer's Cookbook
Cooking well on the road is a challenge even at the best of times. For me it’s not usually the availability of ingredients since most of my travel is within the United States; rather, it’s the need for creative ideas about just what to cook. I’m not the most enthusiastic chef and backpacker meals get pretty boring after awhile!
For world travelers Lisa and Simon Thomas, the challenge is magnified countless times. Since 2003, they’ve journeyed by motorcycle through 78 countries on six continents, in places with widely varying degrees of food availability. “Maintaining a healthy diet can be near impossible when travelling through developing parts of the world, where fresh vegetables are nowhere to be seen,” says Lisa in the introduction to her new book, Dirty Dining, An Adventurer’s Cookbook. Lucky for the reading (and riding) public, the book shares Lisa’s experiences, advice, and recipes for producing healthful, delicious meals on the road.
Lisa says Dirty Dining is not meant to be a gourmet cooking guide or even a country-by-country recipe book (although one is in the works). Rather, “This book gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to make do when there is nothing much around to eat. The recipes in this book are for when you are out in the ‘boonies’ where fresh produce is scarce to non-existent, or high up in the Altiplano riding at 15,000 feet.”
Dirty Dining features 26 recipes representing locales worldwide, across more than 150 beautifully photographed (by Simon, of course) pages. Lisa’s saucy sense of humor comes through in short vignettes setting the dishes within a specific place and experience. For instance, Lisa and Simon enjoyed the Orange Pork while staring “spellbound at the star-studded night sky,” after a 2,500-kilometer traverse of the Australian Outback. The volume is almost more a storybook with recipes than a cookbook with stories, making it fun just to sit down and read for pleasure.
I’m no gourmet, and I like Lisa’s practical approach to cooking, with recipes including “make-do” sorts of food one can easily carry along—Spam, canned vegetables, packets of spice mixes—for when fresh food is not to be found. And, she shares a handy list of staples and compact cooking gear to carry along in one’s pannier pantry, along with valuable advice on food safety—a huge issue for travelers.
I was eager to sample some of the recipes and have already prepared the Orange Pork (Australia, page 72) and Couscous (Morocco, page 124). Like Lisa and Simon, I favor food that is flavorful and well seasoned and both of these dishes fit the bill. The Orange Pork recipe delivers tender chunks of pork with a crispy finish along with potatoes, carrots, onions and an orange glaze—all made in one pan. Delicious and filling, and a dish I will prepare again. I admit that I improvised a bit in my preparation, but it seems to me that’s exactly what Lisa encourages—using what’s available. And frankly, I wouldn’t limit this cookbook just to camping— the recipes will work just as well in one’s home kitchen.
Once I’ve finished lingering over the stories and photos and trying more recipes, Dirty Dining will find a home in our camping kit. I’ll certainly have no shortage of inspiration on our next adventure. 2RideTheWorld.com
Author: Lisa Thomas
Photography: Simon Thomas
Publisher: Misadventures Media
Pricing: Paperback: $29.99