Outlandish: Fuel Your Epic is a sun-soaked starter manual to fueling your own epic. Through flavorful recipes, riveting personal stories, and gotta-go-there photographs, canyoneering wordsmith and adventurer Morgan Sjogren shows how outdoor adventure can become your lifestyle.
You’re going to eat that? A running bum’s food philosophy
Without a cooler and only a tiny backpacking stove during my first year of Jeep living, I usually resorted to post-adventure fueling with cold burritos and warm beer while sitting in the dirt and a puddle of my own sweat. It’s still my go-to meal on many occasions. By the time I return home from a long day’s excursion, I am often just too hungry and tired to get any fancier than that. To dress up the burrito, I might lather it in ketchup or hot sauce (or both). If any avocado or cheese has survived to that point on my outing, it goes in the tortilla too. So does anything else available. My basecamps are typically so remote that frequent trips to resupply are not a possibility. The modern conveniences of fresh food, refrigeration, and seemingly endless running water are ones that I have adapted to living without. As it turns out, a lack of techy outdoor gear or even culinary skill is not an impediment to the ability to eat—and eat well.
Of course, my athletic appetite keeps me from getting too content with a steady diet of cold burritos. Out on the road, not only do I crave to feast on meals with exciting and diverse ingredients, but I also thrive on the challenge of pulling off new concoctions with what’s available (be it the last of my food stash, the slim pickings at a gas station, or what I’ve foraged from the land itself). Being creative in the kitchen has always been my passion, taking seemingly odd ingredients from a co-op veggie box or even dumpster diving, and turning them into a belle melange, a strange and beautiful messterpiece.
Being a picky eater also got tossed out the Jeep window. Although I was raised a vegan, I now choose to eat meat to prevent anemia and maintain healthy iron levels for my athletic pursuits. But shedding dietary restrictions is also a survival mechanism for me—when your options are limited, everything and anything edible helps to keep the engine running. Snickers, Pop-Tarts, beef jerky, chicken broth, cheese, rotten bananas, and even bacon grease have saved my bum from bonking on many occasions. Eating anything, even “junk food,” is much better for preventing a bonk than going hungry. If I fret about these foods being “unhealthy,” I certainly will be much worse off in the middle of a canyon or camped in a desolate area. Living on the edge forces me to eat there too.
There have been plenty of mishaps along with plenty of outlandish concoctions born out of dwindling rations and chaotic circumstances. A burrito filled with cold hot dogs, dill pickles, and barbecue sauce. Living on bacon for multiple days in a row. Soggy ham, cheese, and hot sauce sandwiches donated by fellow climbers on Pico de Orizaba. Hot sauce–laced tuna tostadas built upon dry beds of ramen with fresh lime juice. Some meals were so absurdly desperate, they earned their own names, such as the Lake Powell Slop and the Mountain Messterpiece I devoured post Tundrathon Triple. These recipes, just like any good adventure, ride a fine line between fun and disaster.
You won’t find nutrition facts or calorie counts in these high-octane meals. Food is the gas you need to put in your tank (and a bean burrito will certainly give you a little extra!). Big adventures require big calorie counts, and too often athletes fall short of the energy they need and create unnecessary stress when they overanalyze their diets. I eat like an animal—chowing down when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. I also prefer to listen to my body’s cravings (like the signal that I need salt, carbs, and fat when I want tortilla chips). And when it comes down to actual survival or even bonking, it’s wise not to worry about whether something is organic or paleo—just eat it!
This cookbook is as much a guide to fueling for endurance and adventure under the most extreme (and beautiful) circumstances as it is a collection of the incredible adventures I devoured along with each burrito, sometimes solo, sometimes with my best friends. For inspiration, I’ve gathered ideas from friends on the road, drawn ingredients from the wild or local culture, and tried my best to recreate home-cooked comfort foods in the backcountry. When we strip away the distractions of modern life (TV, cell phones, traffic, work, coffee shops, and restaurants) and return to the wilderness, the primal act of preparing and eating food becomes a far more significant part of our life. Taking the time to cook outside—from the gourmet to the grotesque—will not only stoke your engine but become a nourishing part of your memories. Whether you live on the road, are wanderlusting for a good road trip, or simply want to eat like a dirtbag at home, I hope that the pages you hold in your hand are a starter manual to fueling your own epic.
Outlandish is a gorgeous guide to a more adventurous life. Through flavorful recipes, riveting personal stories, and gotta-go-there photographs, canyoneering wordsmith and adventurer Morgan Sjogren shows how outdoor adventure can become your lifestyle.