Num Num

eat. cook. write.

September 15, 2011

Drakensberg Adventures

(also, How to warm up dinner and make breakfast on a fire without the use of pots)

Bear Grylls would be proud of this one. My friend T and I arrived in the most majestic Monk’s Cowl in the Drakensberg after a long academic term and a 12 hour drive. We were met by a beautiful campsite, all set up. We went for a walk, we had potjiekos, and drank wine and spoke rubbish with my parents. Then we slept all morning, ate some glorious lunch, and helped my parents pack up, leaving us behind with a tent and all the basics we would need.

Except pots.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? (All reality show participants can take note here; this is a typical African mountainous scenario.) Like a reality TV game, you have certain tools but not others. The mission: to eat. Points given for resourcefulness. Points given for laughs.

This is what you do:

You make it feel like a game because you’re on holiday and its much more fun that way.

Then, you scout the premises for any useful tools. Girls get resourceful.
Don’t get overly enthusiastic now. It seems a good idea to uproot the fence to get at that piece of wire; but they do have security guards. Look elsewhere.  
A flat rock- great. A piece of thick wire. Kindling. Check.
You figure out that you have got tinfoil and you feel grateful.
You pour yourselves a drink (you can make this step 1 depending on how perplexed you are).

Then, you make a serious fire. You disinfect that piece of wire that you found behind the scullery block by burning it and wrap up your mother’s camping plates in tinfoil.

Pop the potjie kos on there and stir a bit. It can get messy if you can’t see what's going on but no matter. It takes a while to heat up, you have put that foil plate right into the ash. Cover it up. Yes, potjie does taste better the next day.

(We just laughed while we waited because the moon was so bright it was bursting. We could see up to the cliff faces, we could see a controlled veld fire with its orange streaks ripping through the landscape. We couldn’t see anyone else, and sometimes its so damn nice to know its just you and the mountains and your dinner.)

Day 2.

The breakfast was our greatest feat. Pure ingenuity, Grylls would certainly agree.

Make the fire on top of a flat rock. Wrap that bacon around your burnt piece of wire. Suspend it over the coals. Turn it every now and then. Don’t burn your toes. Don’t burn your shins ( I did, I was so excited about my scrambled egg pan invention, I didn’t notice my shins flush red. They looked weird and mottled all day.)

Get ready for the most deliciously crisp, super- smoked bacon you will ever eat. (Oh man.) Then, when the bacon is nearly done, clear the ashes off that flat rock. Make a little bowl with a piece of tinfoil and pop it on top. Melt some butter in there. Now pop your whisked eggs in. Stir as per usual. But be very very careful. This is a fragile vessel. You don’t want your scramble spilling into the fire. Treat it like you normally would- with love and care, letting it just firm up but not get stodgy and overcooked. Season it well. Add some mature cheddar. (We didn’t have a grater either- I peeled the cheese into thin slices then chopped them up.)

Make your toast before hand on the grid. ( I know, I know what you’re thinking. There was a grid? How silly. They could have cooked the bacon on the grid. But this is reality TV and there are points for resourcefulness and ingenuity, so come on).

Eat your breakfast and feel well chuffed with yourself and the beautiful day that’s unfolding.

Pack up your site and take your time. Watch out for the monkeys, stealing your biscuits. Maybe make a short video. Pack a picnic, drive to Dragon’s Peak. You’re supposed to pay to have a picnic there, its that pretty. But a big smile and wave at the gate might do.

You can stop at the Stonechat for coffee. You can stop at the Wafflehut, buy a carpet, whatever. You can stop at a roadside stall with a closed down adventure centre thing and take a quick illegal swim. Then run!

The tribe has spoken.

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