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On-The-Road Cooking

The other day I saw a family driving down the highway with a microwave plugged into the cigarette lighter popping popcorn in their car. No, actually I just read about that, and my imagination kicked in a bit too hard. I have, however, on frequent occasions seen motorbikes with their sidecars completely turned into cooking stations fully capable of frying or steaming whatever they happen to come upon on the road. They come equipped with gas tanks and sometimes hotplates for the roti, this is Thailand, don't look at me funny.

For those of us who'd rather not go through any mechanical difficulties, but still would really enjoy a hearty meal every now and again while on the road, don't panic! Practically every car comes with a built in hotplate! Technically it's not called the hotplate, you may know it by different names, such as 'engine', but them's minor details. The point is, cooking food on your engine while you�re driving is not a crazy idea at all, and after some practice, your passengers will be asking "is it done yet?" instead of "are we there yet?"

To get started, you need to find a good snug spot on your engine that gets hot enough, keeps the food in place, yet not interfering with any moving parts. You can do tests with balls of tin foils pinned on the engine under the hood. Strap some rockets to your car and ramp the Grand Canyon at the widest point, and examine the state of the tin foils afterward. If it has moved about, consider bigger food chunks and vice versa. You can check if the part of the engine you picked is hot enough by dropping some drops of water on it after a good drag race. If the water sizzles and boils, it's hot enough.

Next, you need to be sure to get the right kinds of food to cook under the hood. Keep in mind that no matter how good of a driver you are, the engine always shakes about, so soup's not a good idea. Anything that splatters oily stuff is also not good, because you might set your car on fire. Let's just stick with chicken and potatoes wrapped in tin foil. Now just start driving; in particular models of cars you might even be able to enjoy the aromas de cuisine de la voiture!

There are no actual numbers anyone can give you about how long, or for what distance you must keep your food on the running engine, because there are too many variables involved. Different cars run at different temperatures, driving styles matter, and traffic and weather conditions also have a great influence. The best advice I can give you is a simple trial and error, kind of how it is with regular cooking, in my case anyhow.

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Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 9 February, 2009
Expert drivers may try to combine some of these cooking skills with actually using the grill of the car to catch their prey! The wild is filled with little birds, rabbits, squirrels, and deer...

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