I am a keen collector of cookbooks. My collection runs into the hundreds, and dates back nearly a century. However, I can say with some degree of confidence that I have never read in any of them that the use of a camper van is recommended by way of a cooking utensil. Never.
I used to own a camper van just like Alice, so I am on her wave length (or band width for the younger reader). When she refers to it as “the ultimate in mobile kitchens” she scores a culinary hole in one with me.
As a camper van girl hers is not the kitchen scattered with a dozen dirty bowls, a sink full of washing up and four burners and the oven firing flat out. A camper van kitchen is compact, utilitarian and compels the chef to cook in a minimalist way. If you saw the size of the sink inside them, you would understand – it is barely big enough to set a jelly in.
It stands to reason then that camper tucker is going to have a pretty easy ride to the table. Like picnics and play away barbecues, she prepares things in advance to cut out unnecessary fussing when out and about. Indeed she bravely attempts damper bread cooked on a stick over an open fire, and suggests dry mixing the ingredients into a plastic bag at home. Also cakes to be baked at home to bring along too. All such sensible advice.
Exotica such as grilled corn and sweet potato with lime dressing, rosemary farinata and Saigon salad rolls are effortlessly put together like ham and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea. No prizes for working out which tastes better.
Alice does operate from inside her house and domestic kitchen too. She extols the delights of a traditional family Sunday lunch, offering pleasant twists on the usual fare and arranges the recipes here as elsewhere into orderly menus to provide a complete and complimentary meal.
Breakfast , lunch and parties all have their own chapters, and throughout the book she constantly offers sensible short cuts to avoid the last minute crush before the food arrives at table, leaving the cook to enjoy the meal along with others , be it family or friends, few or many.
So, if you want to make lamb cigars, boozy lollies or learn how to cover your tracks after a camp fire, Alice’s Cook Book is the one to buy.
Alice’s Cookbook (New Voices in Food)