Is this not a grossly under-rated pastime, and are we doing what we often do these days - forgetting about the simple things in life and going back to basics?
When did you last have a meal that was cooked on wood or in a wood fired oven? You may have possibly done so unknowingly, perhaps a pizza cooked in a wood fired pizza oven of which there are now quite a few, or perhaps you have had a rather nice Sunday roast cooked on what looks like a normal range cooker, but is actually run on wood, such as the wonderful Esse cooker!
For most of us, probably the closest we get every summer to cooking on wood, and even in this instance you perhaps didn't really think you were, is the good old charcoal barbeque. How often do you think that this fantastic traditional summer meal alfresco has been cooked on wood? - not often I would suggest.
The making of charcoal goes back hundreds of years and is really a traditional art of the woodsman in which a pile of seasoned logs are stacked on their ends in a cone shape and covered with turf or moistened clay. Generally with air vents at the bottom and a central flue the pile is lit and left to burn for several days to make charcoal. This makes it sound rather simple, but it's quite an art to ensure the right speed of combustion for the best charcoal. A tradition which is coming back in the UK using more modern kilns, but nevertheless most of the charcoal we buy today comes from abroad.
So, why don't we run our barbeques on traditional logs and just burn them down to charcoal form, ready to cook over? Presumably this is not done because it is so easy to buy ready made charcoal and perhaps people have just not thought of it?
I recently met someone who was fascinated by our Flamers natural firelighters and was desperate to try them for his 'Fire Club' !! Yes, to my amazement, he and a group of friends meet every week and sit out in their gardens around a camp fire, keeping warm and cooking their evening meal. How unbelievably cool is that?
So, come on, any suggestions on how we can get the National Fire Club started?