TV shows like Food Network’s Iron Chef America crack me up. “Cook a seven-course meal in which every dish must contain Arctic char! Including dessert!” This was the actual premise of a cooking show I watched once. Ridiculous. Especially considering that Arctic char is culinarily indistinguishable from rainbow trout, just harder to find and pricier because it has to be wild-caught and flown in from northern Canada. Man, what I wouldn’t give to fly fish for Arctic char in Canada right now. Or to fly fish for any kind of trout, anywhere.
My friend Bryce fishing in a remote offtrail lake in Sequoia National Park in September 2012
But I digress. The idea of turning cooking into a challenge got me to thinking — I bet y’all in America would love to try cooking like a Peace Corps volunteer.* I bet you’re just hopping up and down in anticipation of this fancy new cooking challenge!
*A Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia, of course, because I have no idea how volunteers cook in other countries.
Here’s all you have to do to:
-Go to spin class for two hours and work up a nice sweat
-Come home and crank up the thermostat in your kitchen to a balmy 92 degrees
-Unscrew all of your lightbulbs
Although if you want to be precise, feel free to go out and get a solar lamp like this one
-Unplug your refrigerator, microwave, and blender
-Toss out all of your food except the ingredients that have never been refrigerated or frozen
-Toss out the stuff that is now spoiling in the heat, too
-Tape up the faucet in the sink and haul a bucket over to your neighbor’s ornamental koi pond to get water
I can store up to 100 liters of water in my hut using a variety of buckets and jugs
-Don’t feed your cat for a week beforehand, then let her loose in your kitchen
-Pay the neighbor kid ten bucks to stand outside your house with a stick, banging on both a pot and your window at regular intervals
-Collect two dozen mosquitoes and release them in your kitchen
-Hire an electrician to hotwire your stove (if you’re handy, feel free to do this yourself!) so that all of the burners only have two settings, “Off” and “Hotter than the depths of hell”
Or you can make yourself a brazier
Contestants will be judged on palatability, creativity, and ability to still form solid bowel movements the next day. Points will be added for the use of any ingredient that you had to catch, kill, pick, harvest, or steal yourself. Points will be deducted for anything deep-fried and/or doused in salt. More points will be deducted for any part of your body that you accidentally burn while in the process of preparing your meal.
Time limit: you’ve got allll day