Packing the perfect piece

Embed from Getty Images

If you, you lucky fellow, are heading North in search of grouse, then there should be plenty of time on the journey up to mull over such essential philosophies as the nature of nature, what it means to be human and, ultimately, what to pop in one’s cartridge bag should one get a tad peckish out on the moor.

But before we get to that:

First, take a bag of sweets. Just as one might throw an old tennis ball for a favoured retriever, so other people’s children can be induced to shove off if one scatters rhubarb & custards, kola cubes or the Scotch special ‘soor plooms’ as if one was feeding carp in a pond. (Liquorice divides opinion; best avoided.)

Second, if you are driving and whether it’s on your way or not, go via Callander. You need give no explanation to your passengers. This is the time to show in favour of benevolent dictatorships. Go into Mhor Bread (you can’t miss it – it’s at 8 Main Street) and ask them to box up two dozen assorted pies. Steak & black pudding; steak; haggis and black pudding; macaroni. Ask for a few extra on the side, warmed up, and that’s lunch, house present and tomorrow’s supper for the whole household taken care of. (Don’t forget to get cash for tips on your way back to the car.)

And now to the business of one’s piece.

We’re not for a moment suggesting that anyone can, should, would or may even dream of turning a nose up at what’s on offer on the communal table after breakfast at the lodge. The rolls, the cheese and ham, the reassuringly familiar tiny Mars Bars – all of these are just the ticket. A fancy fungible of one’s own would be a capital offence. We’re simply saying that a little variety – shared out amongst the guns – ensure that one’s stock remains high on the back of the pies.

The trick, we find, is to imagine one is a pre-war Alpinist. Fit and healthy, stout of ankle and firm of limb and all that. What, one asks oneself, would Otto or Giovanni or Marcel eat?

Tough, heavily garlicked sausage.

So take two. They don’t weigh much, they don’t need to live in the fridge, and they last forever.

What, however, would Otto, Giovanni or Marcel wish they could be eating?

Anchovy-stuffed olives. You can pick up a tiny tin of these for less that a pound so again - pick up a couple.

Finally, our Alpine comrades would probably be packing pemmican - and this is where we part company. Recipes have varied over the centuries, but in the 21st we think we should agree that, whatever the mysteries therein, it should now be reserved exclusively for the dogs.

Instead – and this is controversial so requires faith and a go-to-the-devil attitude – have a packet of Scampi Fries tucked away somewhere. They are a shameful foodstuff and one should, we warrant, take advantage of a rare week in the wilderness where one can eat them and thereby risk offending everybody within six miles because there are, of course, blessedly few people there to offend.