Rusty Long has covered the world and back in search of big waves. Just the smallest hint of a swell is enough to send him packing for trips that last weeks at a time. So how does one of the most resourceful, self-reliant surfers around prepare for off-the-grid meals? Rusty gave us the scoop on his essential food tips for a strike mission in Baja, dicing up some wisdom for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
BREAKFAST: PREPARE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION, NOT JUST THE LOCATION
“You always want to bring food that can exist in a car for long stretches of time. For example, I don’t usually mess with eggs, even if you have access to an open fire; they’re much too fragile. Bring the kind of fruit that doesn't perish easily and can bounce around when you’re traveling and doesn't get too beaten up. Some of my favorites are bananas, oranges, and apples. All of those have a really long shelf life and provide all the vitamins and nutrition you need. I always segment the quality out, too – bring green bananas, ones that are not quite ripe, and ripe ones. Bring good citrus. Besides oranges, I like grapefruit or tangerines.
“You should bring food that doesn't need refrigeration. I like to have stuff that's simple, especially when you're going to surf waves and you have to move quickly in the mornings at a moment’s notice. My go-to for breakfast in Baja is bringing granola and cartons of almond milk because they don't perish and don't need to be refrigerated too coldly. You're usually with a person or two, so you can usually go through one of the cartons in the morning or in two days, and you typically have some light refrigeration even if you're going camping – buy some ice somewhere and put it in an ice chest.
“One more thing: coffee. I never go anywhere without coffee. I like to bring a stovetop espresso maker, which I hook up to a propane tank. For camping, you should plan ahead so you don't need something to heat the water with and then something else to make the coffee in. Gather the tools to ensure one concise unit.”
LUNCH: SNACK FOR THE LONG-HAUL, BUT DON’T BOG YOURSELF DOWN
“For lunches on an off-the-grid trip, I’m more of a snacker, so you want a staple that you can prepare over and over again, while storing the ingredients in a small amount of space. One of my favorites for a long Baja trip is a sandwich with almond butter and jelly. They're easy to make, you're dealing with ingredients that won't go bad on you, and you'll have a lot of meals that can be compartmentalized in a small area. That's lunch for a week right there. It's one of the best things to bring if I’m camping in a rural spot, and especially if we're on a boat. I've done it so many times, going to some international spot for a swell, and a good sandwich is a savior when you finally get there.
“I also always bring some kind of raw food snack bar. There are so many good ones on the market that have good nutrition, but are also good portable fillers. Dried mango is solid, and so is some kind of nut. I have these chili-lime cashews from Trader Joe’s that I always get. It's all about finding nutritious, tightly-packed options.”
DINNER: SAVOR A BIG DAY WITH A BIGGER MEAL
“The end of the day is the best. Drinking some beers, eating some good food, talking story after chasing waves all day — it’s a chance to cut loose. If there's someplace local where there are good restaurants, or anyplace where you can go eat, then I definitely like to take advantage of the travel aspect and throw in one bigger meal out a day, or every other day. If it's in Baja, we can get fresh fish or lobster from a local fisherman, so I always bring ingredients to prepare fish, like garlic, olive oil, lemon, and soy sauce. Soy sauce is the one I always carry with me. You can pan-sear some fish and soy sauce really quickly, and the result always turns out well because the sauce caramelizes the fish and sears it with an outside crusted edge. And then there are the basics: rice, some different cans of meats and beans. The other thing we'll do is bring vegetables and potatoes that are good for roasting over the campfire, so you can wrap them over the flame. If we're talking Baja, then of course you have to make tacos with tortillas, avocado, and cheese, if you have light refrigeration. Always make a filling dinner; you’ve earned it.
“My dream meal? Probably some super-deluxe fish tacos, with a fresh catch, some guacamole, brown rice, black beans, and some salsa. That'll pretty much do it for me right there.”
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