When Brendan Leonard and Anna Brones head off on outdoor adventures, they still like to eat well.
"In the outdoors, you pack your tent, your sleeping bag — you want the best. I think both Anna and I are that way. We want to eat well while we're out there. That's a significant part of having fun in the outdoors — the food," says Leonard, a Denver-based outdoor adventure writer.
He teamed up with Seattle-based writer Brones (who specializes in food and cycling) to create Best Served Wild: Real Food For Real Adventures — a book, in Leonard's words, "for people who consider food an essential part of gear."
Both authors are vegetarian, and so are the recipes (though it wouldn't be difficult to add meat to many dishes). Far from a drawback, this is a benefit when packing food.
"It's kind of a way of simplifying for me, knowing that you can live without that kind of stuff in the outdoors for weeks at a time, or for years in my case," says Leonard. "It's one more variable that you can eliminate having to worry about, as far as keeping things clean, or sanitation in the kitchen, or taking a cooler. A lot of times you can get away without taking a cooler if you're not taking any sort of animal product."
The chilaquiles are a favorite recipe of Leonard's, while Brones is a fan of the peanut sauce made with peanut butter and soy sauce (ginger and sesame oil are optional). Each chose a different chili recipe as part of their top two.
Brones' contributions to the book drew inspiration from our region.
"Obviously, we live in an area where people really do enjoy the outdoors and are really active in the outdoors. I also think that it's a region where people are excited about food," she says. "We live in an area with a lot of agriculture and a lot of access to great food, so I think combining them really makes sense."
Though both Brones and Leonard are excited about the recipes in the book, their goal is to inspire people to think outside the box regarding their adventure meals.
"Basically anything you make outside is going to taste great. I mean, you're outside, you're already doing something that you enjoy doing," says Brones. "Just the act of making a very simple thing — which at home might not seem to be extraordinary — something simple in the outdoors has this sort of level of success to it because you succeeded, out of your comfort zone. I think that is very exciting, and I think it makes you more appreciative of your meal, as well."
Adds Leonard: "I just think that life is too short to eat stuff you don't like, to get out there and be disappointed with your food. If you step it up a little bit, it pays off. It creates a really great memory, as opposed to just that bar that's been in the bottom of your backpack for three straight trips." ♦
Find Best Served Wild: Read Food for Real Adventures (Falcon Guides; $22), at Auntie's Bookstore, 402 W. Main.