Review of the Back Country Cuisine Thai Chicken Curry

Everything ready to go

Last night I thought I’d have my second go using the Optimus Crux gas stove and I cooked a Back Country Cuisine dehydrated meal that I bought a couple of weeks ago from Bivouac in Albany.  I wanted to try the dehydrated meals at least once before I started Te Araroa so I knew if I liked them or not – I’d never tried one before.  Here’s what it says on the packet:

Thai Chicken Curry (Gluten Free) – The distinctive Thai taste of coconut milk & curry with chicken, green beans and roasted cashews”.

Well they sure make it sound appealing.  But I didn’t have high expectations.  I expected it to be bland and chewy and have a kind of “mystery meat” taste that you often get with cheap cuts of chicken.

Boiled some water on the stove (easy just like last time, despite the fact I had the pot quite off-centre as you can see) and poured it into the bag, stirred it, sealed it up and left it for 10 minutes.  Then, apparently you can rip off the bag at its midway point where the notches are and eat it directly out of the bag.  But I wanted to put it into my plate so I could see it.

   

As you can see it doesn’t look too bad, and I’m pleased to say that it tasted good too!  Spicier than I expected.  Quite a lot of flavour.  Although if I’m honest, I couldn’t identify the chicken.  Is it the square pieces?  That’s what I assumed, however the ingredients list contained “Soy Protein” as well as chicken, and this looked a bit like soy protein.  I don’t really know if I’m honest.  Although the rest of the ingredients were there and identifiable and tasted nice.

I’m not a foodie, so I don’t know good food when I find it.  In fact, I’m quite fussy with food, I often won’t eat something if I don’t know what meat it is or if there are ingredients listed that I haven’t heard of or if I simply don’t know the ingredients.  So the fact that I found this nice must be a good sign!

It was a small meal serve though.  The 1 serve was only 392 calories and I imagine after a day of hiking that is going to be very unsatisfying, and I think it was $8.99.  So I’d definitely be buying the 2 serve which was $12.99 for the amount of food I feel I’d need.  And I feel like I used the amount of water it said and left it for the length of time I was told to but it ended up just a little bit too watery.

I’ve just looked up their website and realised that one of their Frequently Asked Questions is “why is the meat rectangular?”, so that answers that question.  The square bits are the meat.  Interesting.  By the way, the answer is that it re-hydrates better and isn’t crunchy.  They’re also made in Invercargill too, here in New Zealand.

Definitely next I’ll try one of the dessert range… and also there’s a Butter Chicken meal too, but another company make that one.

It’s a miracle!

Yesterday, a miracle happened.  For the first time since June, it didn’t rain at all the whole day.  At least not where I was.  I mean I know New Zealand can be wet in the winter, but the relentless rain was just getting really tiresome.  I remember at the start of the year during summer how much I was looking forward to doing the trail – back when it was warm and all the days were fine and you actually wanted to be outside.  With all the rain recently I have very much enjoyed late sleep-ins and just generally staying indoors.  Yesterday I actually started to feel again like I was looking forward to some long-distance walking.

Strange round glowing thing in the sky

There was also this weird bright round thing in the sky, quite an intense white, something that’s not usually there. I didn’t know what it was.  When you looked at it you felt warm.  I don’t remember seeing it before, and actually it was quite unsettling.

My workmates told me today that it was just this thing called “the sun”.  I think I could get used to this “sun”.  I hope it continues to grace us with its presence.

On a serious note, I tried out my Optimus Crux cooking system on Sunday.  I don’t do much cooking on a normal day so I need to use it a few times before I start the trail so that I know what I’m doing.  This time I just used it to boil water.  We were all worried about how windy it was outside but when I turned the gas on and lit it with a match it was so easy.  The flame was much more powerful than I imagined and it felt like the small amount of water I had boiled in only one minute.  It was much easier than I expected!

Optimus Crux

I did expect to boil the water in the main pot and then put the instant coffee in the smaller pot and drink out of there.  However this didn’t work so well because both pots got hot quite quickly.  And the coffee seemed to cool down quite fast when I did that.  So I think I’m going to have to take some kind of lightweight mug and plate on the trail.

Tonight I’m going to use it to make my first dehydrated meal dinner.  Thai Chicken Curry by Back Country Cuisine.  Despite the fact that these get relatively good reviews from salespeople I have spoken to in the stores, I’m apprehensive.  But I need to get over any fears I have of dehydrated food otherwise I fear I will be living on nothing but couscous and nuts on the trail!

It seems the one fine day is going to be the exception.  Checking out the weather forecast for the next 10 days shows that we’re back to the usual rain, rain and more rain.  Although not every single day has rain forecast, which is nice.  And it seems MetService have also noticed the unusual round glowing thing in the sky too, it’s scheduled to make another appearance in a few days.

Weather forecast 20 – 29 August