My friend Paul told me about 'holiday stew' recently. I'd never heard of it and Paul couldn't quite believe it. He thought everyone had holiday stew on holiday. Apparently not. To be honest I felt a little left out because the sound of it suggested something wonderful. It has the ring of fabulousness about it, doesn't it? One imagines something so special you'd only ever have it once a year.
So what of this seventies delicacy I've never heard of? Well, the clue is in the name. Holidays are all about taking time off. So whilst Dad and the kids got to spend a little time away from work and school, Mum (remember it was the seventies) got to take a little time out too. Why should she make tea in a tiny caravan kitchen when everyone else was larking around in the rain? Quite. So what Mum did was to take a tin of peas, a tin of potatoes, a tin of carrots and a tin of meat and mix them up with the secret ingredient, an OXO cube. And that was holiday stew. Crikey.
But it got me thinking. For a camper vanning escapade it could well be perfect. It's a great concept. Despite the fact that it's a culinary disaster, it follows all the rules of camper van living: you make it in one pot, it doesn't take long to cook and the ingredients will never go off. If you all used a spoon to eat it you'd save a whole bunch of washing up too. I thought to myself "I want some of that."
Off to the kitchen then.
The result is my spicy bean stew with chorizo. Almost everything (apart from an onion, some garlic and fresh herbs) comes from a can or is preserved and yet it's hearty and delicious. It's one for the back of the cupboard, for a dark and windy day when you're too tired to go to the shop. Just perfect for when you're having a day off from being a camper van adventurer.
Seeing as I am about to pack up and head off on a once in a lifetime tour of the UK in my van (that's going to be filmed for BBC2) I have stuffed a few tins of butter beans, cannelini beans, kidney beans and lentils (as well as a few yards of chorizo) in the back of the cupboard. You never know. There may be times when having holiday stew is the only thing for it. Can't wait.