So. What. Will. You. Eat. asks my neighbour rather anxiously as she drives me to the Remote Island’s ferry on my way to a 3-day kayaking excursion.
She knows how I am about food. How I arrive on this island with a small suitcase of food supplies then head into town the next day to top it off with fresh shrimp and artisan cheese.
Will. You. Eat. Dried. Food. From. Pouches. she continues. She thinks it’s like spaceship travel.
No, and, Hell no.
First of all, I am kayaking with G and J, a lovely couple I’ve known for years. We agree on many things but perhaps most importantly we are in accord that the deep hatches of kayaks, not to mention their pointy noses, can and must hold all manner of delicious food.
The three days unfold, a gift to all our senses. The waters of Sechelt Inlet welcome us with glassy stillness as we pull out. Blue hills and green mountains unfold like one of those children’s pop-up books. Crossing the inlet to our marine campground, we encounter swelling waves in a sudden wind. I am momentarily terrified.
J shows me how to brace my legs against the inside of the kayak. I keep paddling, and the steady push-pull movement of doing so calms me and finally, brings me to shore.
It’s my night to cook. After we set up camp I lead my good-natured friends on a short walk through shallow water to a rocky outcropping with a view of the other side of the point we’re on. We eat Saltspring Island goat cheese with truffles, and Saturna Island wine (from plastic pink teacups no less).
Back at the camp kitchen that J has outfitted with her usual elegance I make a quick stew of sidestripe shrimp with cherry tomatoes, onions, corn fresh from the cob, garlic, oregano and lemon, basmati rice to go with. It’s nothing fancy (you could do it yourself with all manner of variation) except that the shrimp are fresh, plump, and juicy as fruit.
My friends shiver with delight and I’m proud to feed these folk who have hosted me so often in their oceanside home.
Dinner the next day is J’s creation: two vegetarian curries from the Hollyhock cookbook, naan bread on the side. How could they possibly be so delicious, these curries?
And then of course there is the kayaking, in all of its meditative monotony and unspeakable beauty, the Robinson Crusoe-esque solitude of our campground, and seals that cavort before us like circus performers.
Besides the food and the kayaking, it’s the sunrises that impress me the most, a reminder of both the strength and fragility of this planet we’re on, and its delicate daily movements in the universe.
Neither body nor soul went hungry.