janet @ the taste space

Tomato TVP Pilaf (aka Instant Camping Meal & What I Ate at Burning Man)

In Mains (Vegetarian) on September 17, 2013 at 6:23 AM

Burning Man 2013

I procrastinated with this post. My post about Burning Man. Not because I didn’t enjoy myself (I loved it). Not because weRob still had to process our photos. Rather, I didn’t know what to say.

True enough, I am no longer a Burning Man virgin (they make you scream that when you enter the first time( but in the 4 days we were there, there was still more to do, more to explore and more to share. I certainly do not feel like any authority but will share a bit of my experiences.

First of all, what is Burning Man?

Most simply, it is an arts and culture festival in the middle of the Nevada desert. However, it is much more than that. It is a very special place. The Ten Principles of Burning Man give you a bit of a better idea:

  • Radical Inclusion: everyone is welcomed
  • Gifting: no money is exchanged during the event [other than for ice, coffee and lemonade from Central Camp]
  • Decommodification: commercial sponsorship is shunned
  • Radical Self-Reliance: you are expected to take care of your own needs
  • Radical Self-Expression: the outcome from fashion and other art (sculptures, music, dance) at the festival
  • Communal Effort: cooperation is needed to build something as monumentous as this
  • Civic Responsibility: the Burning Man “village” only exists for the week of Burning Man, but still needs to follow local, state and federal laws
  • Leaving No Trace: everything you bring to Burning Man needs to return with you as well (bodily fluids aside, but even dirty water needs to come back with you). There is no garbage disposal. You cannot let things disappear. Volunteers spend an additional month after Burning Man cleaning up the camp to make sure there is no trace of Burning Man.
  • Participation: you can participate in many ways, by taking part in others’ events and/or creating your own.
  • Immediacy: nothing can be substituted for the immediacy of your own experience.

Burning Man 2013

Even looking through photos (check these out), it is hard to grasp the enormity of this event. Almost 68,000 people converge for a week in the middle of the desert. Everyone had to bring their own water, food, shelter and power. You might think this would lead to a bare campsite but it was anything but. Tons of lights, cold drinks and shade. People walking and cycling at all hours. Art cars out for the night. It was incredible.

Rob and I were lucky to we camp with one of his friends, from Camp Flock Ewe who constructed an incredible sheep art bus, aka BAAAHS, the Big Ass Amazingly Awesome Homosexual Sheep. It was described as part mutant vehicle, part penetrable sculpture, part socio-political statement, and part gay disco. And let’s just say, a wicked awesome viewpoint and party for watching the burning of The Man.

Rob and I enjoyed wandering around, enjoying being in the present. Catching up with friends. Enjoying the art sculptures, the music, the experiences. We drove self-propelled bumper cars. took a taiko drumming class, a tango dance class and napped when the room was too full to listen to a talk from a Buddhist monk. (We, sadly, never made it to the bum drumming or body percussion classes).  We watched creative fire dancers (hula hoops with fire, oh my!) and since we were out in the middle of the day, we relished being misted with water at any opportunity, and really appreciated “being lavenderized” while getting a scalp massage.

On the more practical front, Burning Man necessitated a few new items for the trip: dust goggles, a cover for my mouth/nose during potential dust storms, a carpet and long rebars for our tent. Next time, we may try harder to bring bikes, which are the ideal way to travel on the playa. Sadly, bikes go to die on the playa, along with running shoes which collect so much dust, as they are hard to return to their pre-playa cleanliness.

We actually don’t have too many photos since the playa dust also eats away at electronics, but Rob snapped a few photos with our point-and-shoot camera.

Burning Man 2013

Because this is a food blog, I will share a bit more about my extreme camping eats. No electricity, but we had a small propane stove and cup to boil water. We opted not to buy any ice, so we didn’t have anything cold or chilled. While trying not to leave any garbage behind (or grey water), especially compostable foodstuffs, we had to become a bit creative. Or not. Our meals were really simple. We didn’t go to Burning Man to eat, we went to enjoy the experience.

Burning Man 2013

Oatmeal with fruit, peanut butter and chia seeds for breakfast. Grapes were great but we also snacked on bananas, huckleberries and apples. Dried fruits and nuts could also have worked nicely. We also had oranges and a mango, but they were not the best idea and ended up coming home with us.

We usually were more adventurous with lunch, which is not saying much. Rob had some takeaway meals from Trader Joe’s and he would boil me some water to make this TVP pilaf. Before I left, I thought a reasonable meal could have been the shelf-stable tofu with peanut butter but when I went to Food Fight in Portland, they had TVP which was a better idea. Just add water! I found a salt-free seasoning and along with nutritional yeast, had a good base for a meal. Chopped tomatoes were a good vegetable to add since they don’t really need to be cooked. Was it the best meal? No way but it was impressive as a nearly instant meal in the middle of the desert. We had baby carrots as snacks.

Tomato TVP Pilaf (aka Instant Camping Meal)

By the time dinner rolled around, I usually wasn’t that hungry and had little energy to prepare anything (or to wash anything). Veggies, peanut butter and chips. My planned tofu + peanut butter never materialized.

We didn’t go hungry at all. We also snacked on random gifted food throughout the day. Water, lemonade, oatmeal bar (YES!!) , kale and carrot salad, farmer’s market veggies (carrots, zucchini, corn, etc), cereal with soy milk (Rob wanted the fruit loops), chai soy latte, bicycle powered fruit smoothie (see above), bicycle powered snow cones, fruits, nuts and even a tomato. Oh, and pickled asparagus from the stinky pee party.

All-in-all, this Portland to Burning Man trip was incredible trip. If you think you’d enjoy the foundations of Burning Man, please try to attend. I know we’ll try to return. 🙂

This is my submission to this week’s What I Ate Wednesday.

PS. The winner of the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites giveaway was Genevieve! I will be in touch with you. 🙂

Tomato TVP Pilaf (aka Instant Camping Meal)

1/3 cup dry TVP
1/3 cup boiling water
1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1-2 tbsp Sunny Paris Seasoning (a mix of dried shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf)
salt, to taste
1 tomato, chopped

1. Once water is boiling, combine all ingredients together and allow to sit 5-10 minutes.

Serves 1.

  1. I am so fascinated by this event! I want to go one day. And I want to be a part of the BAAHS. 😉

    Totally impressed with the TVP meal in the middle of all that. Great idea to take that over tofu!

  2. What an amazing event! 🙂 Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

  3. I’ve heard much about burning man, and it’s great to hear more details! It looks pretty magical. And sounds like you ate well, if simply. Which is nice sometimes.

  4. This is, I kid you not, almost exactly what I’m eating for lunch right now, except with different seasonings and zucchini chopped in too. And chilli sauce 😉

    I know what you mean about procrastinating experiences that are so hard to put into words. I’m at that point with the last three weeks of my US travels!

    • Love it! It is quite a simple, homely but still delicious meal. I know Rob can relate to blogging older events. He set up his blog for chronicling his year for back-packing but had a rough time pulling it all together. Not so fun when it becomes a chore.. but he finished! And now simply shares photos on his blog now. I have taken over blogging his delicious meals. 🙂

  5. I can see how you struggle to describe the festival- it looks so wacky, unlike anything I’ve seen before. I love that “radical” appears in the principles 3 times!
    I think it sounds like fun to have to eat really simply for a week too with v.limited equipment. As long as I had oats and fruit I think I’d survive 🙂

  6. Thank goodness you explained what burning man is, because I was rather mystified for the first paragraph! What an amazing experience – and excellent catering 🙂

  7. Wow sounds like an incredible experience. I have a friend who’s been before. Crazy times!! 😀

  8. […] For those interested, Rob shared the photos from our Portland, Oregon and Burning […]

  9. Wow this sounds like the experience of a lifetime. I hesitate to go to this (as I live kind of close) but am not much into camping and am nervous about food for 4 days – you guys sound like you had an amazing time though and were so creative with your food.

  10. […] Tomato TVP Pilaf from Janet @ the taste space […]

  11. […] 3. What I Ate at Burning Man from The Taste Space: […]

  12. I know exactly what you mean… so difficult to put into words the Burning Man experience. I can go on and on for days with BM stories, yet when asked “what is it like?” … um… life changing?

    I loved seeing your pov, and the creative eats!

  13. This is so amazing! I love the concept of the event but the food situation would be totally frustrating for me. I’m so impressed you were able to succeed!!!

  14. I only know one IRL friend who’s ever attended Burning Man, but read two different blog recaps about it this year and now it’s absolutely on my Big Life To Do’s list.

    Regarding the instant camping food you made, I recently found myself in a similar situation! Went hiking with friends last month and devised a way to make instant cream of mushroom soup–it was great over rice 🙂 Will definitely be giving the Tomato Pilaf a try the next time we disappear into the mountains.

  15. I came to check whether you had participated in Vegan Mofo — and found you went to burning man, hah! Ueber cool! Some of my friends went and loved it. Glad to see that you had a great time, too 🙂

  16. […] are a few things on my American bucket list. A few fun things (like Burning Man and visiting National Parks), and then some that others think we should experience to fully […]

  17. […] it in many different iterations: lovingly inside a BLT at Aux Vivres, as a snack I brought to Burning Man courtesy of Phoney Baloney, and even a slippery, thick raw coconut bacon made from fresh coconut […]

  18. […] 30,000 ft in incline. The hilly route mimics a portion of our beautiful roadtrip from Portland to Burning Man. This time, it will be by bike instead of by […]

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