Food

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This will be a sidebar on the subject of food and food logistics. I’ve had a few questions about — “What did you eat? Did you bring food from the US, or eat local food? Did you pack food into the region or buy it locally? Was it spicy? Was it good?”

We had a cook staff that accompanied us on the trek. The outfitter provided the food, and it was a mix of things that they brought with them and things they acquired locally. There were certain staples in our diet that we could count on seeing just about every day: rice, potatoes, lentils, eggs, cabbage, onions, carrots, chappatis (a kind of unleavened bread like a thick tortilla.) We didn’t have a lot of meat, but what we had was mostly canned or dried: Vienna sausages, hard salami, tuna in oil, sardines, and good old SPAM. We had water buffalo twice, and it was pretty tough to chew. The food was nourishing, but got to be monotonous. After all, there are just so many ways you can fix rice, lentils and cabbage.

We ate most of our meals in a large tent. The porters packed tables and camp stools for our use the whole way on the trek, even over an 18,000 ft. pass.

Breakfast was usually either oat or rice porridge, or cold cereal, followed by eggs cooked in some form with toast or chappatis. We would usually have a hot lunch. On most days we would have tea and “biscuits” (cookies) at around 4 p.m. after reaching camp, then we would play cards until dinner was served.

The cook crew would usually cook in a trekking kitchen; most villages have these simple stone huts available to trekking groups. They would double as sleeping quarters for the cook crew. In places without a kitchen we would set up a large tent for cooking.

After dinner we would stay in the tent and socialize for a while, but we would try to be considerate of the fact that the porters used our eating tent to sleep in, so we would vacate early to our tents.

I was amazed at what Dan, the cook, was able to do in a simple kitchen. We had fried dumplings called MoMos that were very good. We had cake for dessert on a few occasions. He even pulled off making pizza a couple of times, although a pizza with potatoes and cabbage and carrots as toppings is not exactly a gourmet experience.

On the climbs (Island Peak and Pumori) we provided our own food above base camp. On Island Peak we planned on about three days worth of food for sixteen people, so it ended up being quite a lot of food. We only ended up at high camp for one night. The Pumori folks had to plan on about three weeks of food for five people — also quite a bit of food. All told, just the food we brought from the US was around 200 lbs.

It was possible to buy food along the way as well. We gave the cook crew the night off a couple of times and ate in local lodges. It was still basically the same sort of menu, heavy on rice, lentils, potatoes and noodles — but we did get yak steak one night. They pounded the living daylights out of the meat before cooking it to make it possible to chew, but it had a nice flavor.

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