Ah, the lure of the open road. Horizons stretching off into the distance, no fixed schedule, no cell service, roadside coffee, and every other service station offering up the best cinnamon bun in the world. Little known fact: the cinnamon bun centre of the galactic universe is near Muncho Lake. At least, that’s what the sign there says.

What is the connection between wild foraging and truck-stop fare?

With the rise of individualism, a lot of us are on our own when it comes to food choice, having moved away from strict religious or cultural proscriptions — instead we are constantly shifting our own rules to incorporate the latest nutritional, environmental or economic information. Sometimes these rules can get downright complex, and road trips provide the perfect excuse to toss aside all of my usual habits — to indulge in fast food or junk food or any other kind of ‘food’ that I normally wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

Yes, I enjoyed my cinnamon bun from the Yukon Motel in Teslin. However I also know my body, and that I can only push it so far; I better have a stock of healthy, homemade snacks for the next 20 hours to save me from myself. Otherwise I will be spending a lot of the trip recalling acutely why I normally employ the “ten-foot pole” rule.

Food is one mechanism, along with podcasts and digitalized mixed tapes from my teenage years, that I use to keep my mind and body occupied as I whizz across huge distances while barely moving a muscle. For this I require variety both in flavor and texture, and a balance of tasty and healthy.

For example, if I eat a whole bag of homemade zucchini chips between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John I won’t be too much the worse for wear — it’s about the same as eating one zucchini, minus the water, and a tablespoon of organic tamari. I cannot say the same if I absent-mindedly chow down on a bag of potato chips from the gas station. And I know if my homemade creations are not tasty enough to convince me to avoid buying said potato chips, my snacks will languish in the cooler. I only have so much will power.

The ingredients that are normal at home, which I have put energy into gathering and growing, become extra special when I am a thousand miles away and my foraging opportunities are blocked by frost, asphalt, and places that end in “–mart.”

And, I have to admit I sometimes feel a tad smug hurtling down the highway nibbling on salmon jerky and dried mushrooms, sipping yarrow-raspberry leaf tea to keep me (mostly) away from that roadside coffee.

INFOBOX

Headline: Recipe for Zucchini Chi[AS1] ps

In southern climes I have heard that people lock their doors in zucchini season to avoid being the unwitting recipient of these long green gifts. I have never experienced such an over abundance, partly because this recipe uses up any superfluity I may have.

Two medium zucchinis

¼ c tamari

1 tsp chili powder (optional)

1 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Slice zucchinis 1/8 inch thick with a mandoline or sharp knife. Dip zucchini slices in tamari mixed with spices and lay them on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate for 12 hours at 135oF, flipping chips halfway through to prevent them sticking to the trays. Chips will be a bit chewy, if you prefer crisper chips extend the drying time. These can also be made in an oven on the lowest setting, and are sped along by propping the door slightly open and positioning a fan to blow air across the opening. As each oven will be different, you may have to experiment with the length of time.