If you want to see how trail food was back 30, 40, 50 or more years ago one has to pull up a copy of the vintage book Gorp, Glop and Glue Stew.
The book was written and contributed to by many of the pioneers of the hiking, backpacking and mountaineering world. A number of the recipes show a time before all the convenience items that we have now (and no thanks on going back to those days!).
The moral of the book (if there is one) is that many of the recipes came out a time when the hikers had little spare money nor fancy cooking gear. Often the recipes are not real recipes – rather a list of items with loose directions on how to prepare it. The majority of the page is dedicated to the story behind the person who gave the recipe with often a tale of an adventure accompanying it.
If one wanted to, they could easily see a connection between this book and the Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’ books (submitted favorite recipes with a bio of the person behind it). Defintely Gorp, Glop & Glue Stew influenced a number of trail cookbooks down the road. (It was one of the first books I read on trail cooking and very much showed me that I could do more with the concept on our first book Freezer Bag Cooking: Trail Food Made Simple).
One classic recipe from the book was submitted by Gene Fear:
Tasty Trail Energy Bars
2 1/4 cups (1 pound) peanut butter
6 1/2 cups (1 pound) dry milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 cups granola
Mix thoroughly and form into balls. Wrap each ball individually.
The recipes were rarely hard to follow and were based nearly always on what one could find in a grocery store or at a sporting goods store back then. So there are some oddities – foods rarely seen anymore – powdered dates would be a good example. Though be fun to find some. You do have to make some guesses on times for cooking and on water amounts. The recipes are sometimes open ended. As well, a number of the recipes really only work well if you have a fire to cook over – something many modern hikers have never used. (I don’t mind a small fire every once in awhile on a cold night, but cooking on one can be frustrating. Between getting smoked out and sitting there for 30 minutes with your backside freezing…..) But one can take those recipes and figure out how to change them into a modern recipe.
In 2005 or so, they redid the book, bringing it into modern times. Its new name was Beyond Gorp: Favorite Foods From Outdoor Experts.
The recipes were updated – better directions and amouts called for were done better. As well new recipes from younger writers were added in.
They did though keep a few of the “classics” such as Mouse Soup (I really would have to be at Death’s Door before I ate Mouse hamburger) and a squirrel recipe came over. After all, I am sure Squirrel In Foil sounds scrumptious 😛 Yum! (Of course anything wrapped in bacon, then cooked in foil will taste scrumptious. Why Hello!, Marmot Roast!)
And as I was sitting here with my old copy, I noticed something: my book is signed by the authoress, Yvonne Prater.