Book review: Fire to Fork
My reluctance (inability?) to cook anything other than a bloody good feed of bacon and eggs while on camping trips is the stuff of bush legend. “Can’t cook, won’t cook” my mates whisper about me. While so many four-wheel drivers have embraced their inner Gordon Ramsay and now relish the task of whipping up a gourmet campfire feast for the wildly sophisticated palates of their family, friends and fellow tourers, I’ve steadfastly refused to expand my culinary horizons beyond sausage sandwiches and charcoaled corn cobs.
Well, that’s all about to change – maybe – because I have managed to get my greasy hands on a copy of Fire to Fork, a new Aussie book aimed at opening up the wonderful world of campfire cooking and showcasing the amazing meals one can prepare while out bush or camped on a beach somewhere.
Written by bush cook Harry Fisher (aka Fire to Fork, a very popular entity on social media platforms) and published by Australia’s Exploring Eden Media*, this well-presented 200-page book “combines everything he knows about cooking over an open flame with over 60 of his favourite bush recipes, desserts and cocktails”, the publishers reckon. (*Full disclosure: Brendan Batty, co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, is a good mate of mine. But he knows if I didn't think this book passed muster I would say so.)
Fire To Fork Adventure Cooking hinges on a simple but successful formula: the recipes are easy to understand, and Harry focuses on top-quality ingredients.
The book includes chapters on campfire cooking tips, side dishes, quick meals, meat, chicken, seafood, as well as desserts and drinks – there’s even a cheeky cocktail recipe or two in here.
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Early sections on how to maintain your cooking gear, how to set up your camp kitchen and how to establish a comprehensive pantry are very cluey and great additions.
It doesn’t hurt that Harry’s had invaluable input from his mum Georgie, a chef, and his sister Rose who is “a fantastic cook” (his words, not mine) so he’s had plenty of expert assistance along the way to his development as a bush-cooking powerhouse. His dad’s from Zimbabwe so there’s a southern African favourite in here as well: biltong, but dried out in a tent as part of this recipe.
Among the crucial positives in this book’s favour are the fact it is easy to read and there’s plenty of crisp imagery of meals and scenery.
Melissa Connell, co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, says: “Harry offers amazing down-to-earth recipes and tips which are practical, tasty and fun.”
She's spot-on and – bonus – there’s an overall easy-going feel to the whole guide. What more do you want from a cookbook?
Who knows? Maybe, at last, even I’ll be able to whip up some chilli mud crab that’s actually edible for once, simply by following the recipe in this book.