Canoe and Camp Cookery: Introduction

Don Lindgren owns Rabelais Books - Fine Books on Food and Drink, located in Biddeford, Maine.

In Rabelais, during a visit in the winter of 2016, I found an outdoor cookbook that pre-dates the turn of the century. Found within this cookbook are an assortment of recipes guided specifically for canoe campers, campers, and sailors/yachtsmen. It is incredibly fascinating, parts still relevant, yet needs an update.

In the Spring of 2017, I boarded a 30' handcrafted voyageur-style canoe and embarked on a six-week expedition, paddling from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi River. During this odyssey, I brought the cookbook from 1887 to test some recipes and learn more about traditional canoe and camp cookery.

These are my exploits, research, and points of interest to share with anyone who might be keen on camp cooking, eating and packing for canoe cookery, and the craft/food history behind it all. No Coleman stoves, or MSR/Jetboils here - not for want of putting these systems down, but here we are going to invest time and energy into cooking over open fire, with dutch ovens and high-volume kettles.

Along the way I hope to rediscover recipes and traditions that before now were lost, forgotten, or merely a little outdated and need a simple tweak with modern conveniences or ideas.