Once in the truck the excitement peaked. Father
wouldn't even start the engine. The headlights could wait, too.
We just rolled down the slight incline of the driveway toward
the street holding our breath. Would we make it this time?
As we eased down the road, inching away from home,
the backfire of the truck's engine coughed and hissed. Only it
wasn't our truck's engine. Mother sighed. Father cursed. The uninvited
neighbors were following us to our secret beach getaway yet again.
The McCrackens were ants at our picnic.
I drifted back to sleep and awoke about the time
we rolled into camp. Mother, the Depression-era daughter of immigrants,
saw no greater shame than not having enough food prepared. Even
before we arrived at the parking lot, she had the campfire going.
However reluctantly, she felt compelled to offer a meal to the
McCrackens. Time and time again, and this you may find most surprising,
the stealth neighbors politely declined. They were already halfway
through their can of stew, yet there was no fire to be found in
their camp. How could this be? Out of sheer curiosity or deep-seated
masochistic pleasure, Father finally asked.
Gourmets, please be seated before reading on.
The secret was not in the salt or the pepper or some McCracken-family
spices. It was in the manifold the exhaust manifold of
their old truck's engine engaged in a slow dance with that can
of Dinty Moore's beef stew and a long road ahead made for the
1 can Dinty Moore's Beef Stew (Splurge and
get the family-size, avoiding the mini-packs at all costs. If
you must go that route you might as well invest in the canned
Hormel's Vienna Sausages.)
1 truck or car (No SUVs, please.)
1 1/4" 1/2" rope
2-4 hours of open road (For every 2 ounces
of stew drive 15 minutes)
Using the rope attach the stew to the vehicle's
manifold. That's the part where the exhaust flows out of the engine
block. Don't be shy wrap it up good.Warning: Do not preheat
Drive, drive, drive. If you must make
stops along the way please try to limit them to less than 15 minutes.
When you have arrived, detach the can from
the manifold carefully. Sheepskin seat covers ideally serve
as potholders for this step.
Open and eat. Forgot your can opener?
Don't fret. Just use your oil spout.
"Guerrilla Gourmet" welcomes your anecdotal
recipe submissions celebrating the ingenuity of American cuisine,
the willingness of its cooks to make much of little and little
of much. Follow us as we journey across this land in search of