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Safari Cuisine 

By Jo Pope, of Robin Pope Safaris

Cooking in the bush – well there is no popping out the front door to Tesco’s to collect some emergency supplies. Out here in the remote South Luangwa planning is key - what is available, what is in season, what is in the fridge and store? This gives cooking delicious and varied western style food for 12 guests a slightly more “on edge” feel!

Once a week a couple of very large refrigerated trucks carry our food all the way up from Lusaka (about 16 hours). So shopping is by Excel spread sheets and emails. Once the supplies have been checked off they then get packed onto our vehicles which subsequently set off for the bush camps reaching there some three to five hours later. Cooler boxes are imperative. Meanwhile in the camps finger nails are chewed as they wait for their next batch of supplies – hoping that there will be no delays and that the lettuce will get there in time for lunch. All of this is part of the challenge of life in the bush for the hostesses of each camp. The chefs however are seasoned and used to the inevitable delays and what we fondly refer to as “African Time” and an alternative is always hidden up their sleeves.

Once the supplies have arrived in camps the next challenge is not to leave them unattended for even a minute otherwise the baboons and squirrels will be there in a flash. Straight into fridges and freezers, boxes and trunks they go, all methods are in place to stop the wildlife taking their share of the goods. However they are cunning and invariably a few losses happen each week. A hyena has even been seen loping off into the distance with a cabbage firmly clenched between its teeth! The other wildlife challenge that lurks is the leaving of non-perishable items on shelves. You may ask what can possibly happen to these however the occasional elephant passing by the window has not often been known to turn down a little treat of a pack of sugar. Sneakily passing the trunk through the kitchen window to sniff around to see what is there!

Wildlife challenges aside our chefs do the most fantastic job producing some scrumptious treats in what can be termed as basic kitchens. The chef up on our mobile safari has a metal grid balanced over firewood as a stove and a hole in the ground as an oven. Amazingly out come some fantastic cakes which I challenge anyone to decline!

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