Honestly, I was kind of ready for a non-food related vacation. That’s why, when I signed on for an 11 day camping safari in Botswana, eating was the last thing on my mind. I was much more interested in immersing myself in the landscape and wildlife than making any new gastronomic discoveries. I knew there would be a cook amongst the crew, but I imagined we would be eating mostly canned beans and rehydrated potatoes – standard camping fare. Man, was I in for a surprise.
Using nothing but 3 cast-iron dutch ovens and a camp fire, our cook, Titi, would prepare elaborate, creative, multi-course meals every day. We also enjoyed fresh bread, biscuits, and cakes – made by surrounding and covering a dutch oven with hot coals from the fire. He would stock up on supplies whenever we passed through town, and serve local meats like crocodile, kudu and impala. One of the more memorable meals, for me, was a crocodile-tail stew with bell peppers and pineapple.
The quality of our meals was an unexpected and delightful surprise, yet understandably overshadowed by the breathtaking scenery and live-action of the savannah. And while I feel confident in describing the culinary aspect of the trip, I’m not even going to try to recount the sights and sensations of the African bush. There have been hundreds of novels, memoirs, photo essays, documentaries and films dedicated to this task, but none have ever done justice to this vast, mysterious and ancient land. It was an unforgettable experience, and I must admit, the fresh biscuits in the morning didn’t hurt one bit.