Back Country Cuisine’s Roast Lamb and Vegetables is a freezedried meal that can be purchased at outdoor shops the best meal you will ever eat with a spork.
After a day-long hike through streams, mud and sand, you need a decent feed. But also, you’ve been hiking all day and you’ve walked yourself right into the middle of nowhere with nary a Maccas or a fish and chip shop in sight and you are really bloody tired and can’t be bothered catching and gutting an eel then smoking it over manuka wood. And that's about your only option, really, for a substantial, protein-rich meal in the New Zealand bush [Sorry about it, Bear Grylls- Ed].
Unless, that is, you did yourself the immense favour of bringing along a packet of Back Country Cuisine’s Roast Lamb and Vegetables. Exactly as it says on the tin (actually it’s a wee pouch, but whatever), it's oven-baked lamb and mint gravy with vegetables and creamy mashed potato. After purchasing it from an outdoor shop (Kathmandu or Macpac or Bivouac or Hunting and Fishing or Torpedo 7) and taking it on your trip, you open up the bag, pour in hot water, leave it for 10 minutes and bam. The grey bits of cardboard-looking mulchy stuff transform into something that any fool would recognise as lamb, gravy, vegetables and mashed potato.
It’s ludicrous. It’s like something Willy Wonka would dream up and indeed I'm sure if you visited the Back Country Cuisine factory you’d find a wizened man in a Swanndri with a gleam in his eye dreaming up impossible instant meals – the strawberry cheesecake is just like cheesecake with shortbread pastry and it springs up from water and grey powder! They make a flameless heater pack that heats water for you. Harry Potter wishes he was as magical as this humble camping cuisine.
If only the Baudelaire orphans from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events had a few packs of these when Count Olaf demanded roast meat for his acting troop NOW.
If they had, Count Olaf would have said “my god, this is actually bloody good, you kids are pretty fucking great cooks maybe I’ll stop trying to take your fortune and just be a decent adoptive parent now” – because it is great. It’s rich and flavourful and hearty. The lamb is luscious and with the sweetness of the mint sauce in the gravy, could have been made by a loving grandmother. The potato manages to be fluffy, soft and moreish with a sprinkling of herbs in it (do I detect chives?). The gravy is, and I do not say this lightly, much better than KFC’s.
And to be honest I am still flabbergasted that you can have such a meal of such soul and heart with such flocculent mashed potato at the drop of a hat in the middle of nowhere. Who knew!?
It's even better than a home-cooked version of the same thing. Still, I reckon you should do the hike first. It really does make food taste better when it is eaten with a spork while sitting on a log in a forest.