|Photo: terren in virginia, Flickr.|
Campground cooking, once the province of anyone who could wrap a potato in tin foil, is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Vicki Loughner, who's coordinating the 2009 South Carolina Campground Cookoff, reports it's not uncommon for campers today to get cracking on a recipe for spinach sausage quiche.
"They are very serious about the cooking they do," Loughner, project manager for the Old 96 District Tourism Commission, says of the teams registered for this weekend's competition. "When you look at their food, you'd never know it was cooked over a campfire."
In pursuit of the $500 prize, some entrants this year have purchased their own Big Green Egg, the fetishized grill with the startling price tag. But Loughner says it's not just the promise of riches that's inspiring outdoorsy gourmands to up their dinner game. According to Loughner, more and more South Carolina campers are applying their "Top Chef" sensibilities to campground menu planning.
"They're making almost anything they can that won't disintegrate," Loughner says, citing reports of scallops showing up on campfire grates.
Not everyone is equally entranced by the prospect of stocking their camp mess kits with cilantro and curry: The Dallas Morning News last month reported more than 100 campgrounds nationwide now offer full-service restaurants. Campers who'd rather not cook their own shellfish -- or whittle a stick to spear their hot dogs -- can order prime rib direct to their RVs.
Still, Loughner believes high-end campground cooking is the more viable trend.
"Most people want to be in on the action," she says. "It's a lot of fun."
Tell us about your campfire cookouts in the comments below!