Hearty Eating, the Gluten‑Free Way
After swinging a rebar trekking pole all day long, you'd need a hearty meal to replenish your energy. This can be a problem even for folks like Farwell who eat anything, but for gluten‑intolerant backcountry explorers, it's a double challenge. Tamia touched on the subject in "The Gluten‑Free Paddler." And later, with the help of readers, she compiled a follow‑up article. But as the next letter shows, the subject is far from exhausted.
Regarding gluten‑free camp dishes, there are two that I can add.
I'm really surprised paella has never come up. Maybe because of prep time and heat control? It really is at its core an ideal camp dish, though. It's even traditionally made over an open fire! Yes, you need a big, shallow metal pan, but a 10‑inch cast‑iron skillet will make a nice paella to feed four people (or two hungry all‑day paddlers), and a 12‑inch will feed five to six (or three, respectively). And other than containing no rye, wheat or barley (short‑grain rice is the mode), there are recipes containing just about everything else: snails, clams, oysters, squid, shrimp, lobster, fish, sausage, chicken, rabbit, beans, peas, bell pepper, chilies, tomato, mushrooms… You name it. Like cooking in a wok, everything is made right in one pan. The oils from the meat sauté the veggies. The juices from the veggies and the oil season the stock for the rice. And traditionally everybody eats straight from the paella pan, so there's only one dish to take care of. You ended up with rice toasted to the bottom? Great! That's actually a Valencian delicacy — you did it right. I'm still new to paella myself, but I'm in love with it and its possibilities.
Second, consider the humble chickpea. There's falafel, roasted chickpeas as snack‑like nuts, chickpeas as a protein‑filled meat substitute in dishes. It's listed as one of the world's natural super‑foods, for goodness' sake. There's also chickpea flour that can be used to coat veggies or meat for frying (look up pakoras) or to make a bread which has many names and variations throughout the Mediterranean, India, and even Argentina (by way of Italian immigrants). Look up socca, farinata, calentita, fainá, panelle, panissa and panissette to name a few. Many recipes require ovens or deep friers, but some can be prepared in a camp skillet. Farinata is a crepe‑like bread that can have ingredients folded in like a quesadilla or omelette. You can use chickpea flour to make a type of polenta, then allow it to set up in a mold. Take it with you as you would a semi‑soft cheese, slice and pan‑fry as panissa. Search for recipes using gram, chana dal, besan, ceci, garbanzo, or chickpea flour. It's all the same thing.