Extreme Cooking Tips And Advice: Mate And Soup As Survival Food

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Extreme Cooking Tips And Advice: How To Carry Your Mate Into The Wilderness

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Within the context of Gea expeditions we get far away from civilisation for weeks or even months and thus, we are forced to carry all our provisions and food with ourselves; mate tea and dehydrated soups have proved to be very handy in these cases.

Carrying provisions in your own backpack is a limited proposition due to weight constrains. The presence and participation of carriers such as sherpas, or animals like yaks, mules, horses or camels is not always practically feasible and even with backpacks of about 50 kg (I have carried packs even of about 80kg) you will reach some limits. In our experience, if you take away almost everything else and just pack your rucksack with food, you will be limited at most to a month of tolerable expeditionary autonomy.

Preparing some bread for a mate session near our cabin at Los Rizos Lake.
Preparing some bread for a mate session near our cabin at Los Rizos Lake.

In expeditions spanning more time you will be forced to do some hunting, fishing, starving or thinking in an entirely different way if you want to save both weight and money. You can indeed, hire a helicopter to leave your provisions at a pre-selected point, but again, feasibility and costs may represent quite an issue in such a case. Thus, the best possible and optimal possibility is to start thinking in alternative solutions.

And indeed, we found one in the form of what we call "a magic combination", which is to carry large quantities of dehydrated soup preparation material and yerba mate, to prepare the traditional South American mate tea. This allows for generous quantities of soup and hot mate tea infusions that will provide with a great deal of nutrients and thus, while not perhaps enough to maintain body weight after extended periods of time, at least provide some degree of nutrition and comfort, because often the sensation of being hungry is less easy to cope with than true weight loss. Two kg of mate and dehydrated soups will be more than enough to keep you pretty well for over a month at a minimal financial and weight cost penalties.

Mate is good anywhere, at any place, like around this stove in a cabin.
Mate is good anywhere, at any place, like around this stove in a cabin.

It is also a little bit monotonous if you try to survive just on soup and mate for a month or so; you will indeed keep alive but it is boring just to have the same every day. However, the first advantage of using such an extreme but nutritious diet is that you will lose weight during expeditions but be perfectly able from a health point of view to eat more during the rest of the year. You will never have to deprive yourself of any treat again! Moreover: If you do this frequently enough, like we do, what you lose after a month or so of wilderness living you will be morally entitled to recoup by visiting a couple of restaurants to celebrate the success of each one of your expeditions.

Mate and soup can, of course, be combined with other meals, and that makes them very flexible as emergency and outdoor provisions. If you take soup and mate for - say - a week, and then you carry a week of food of other kinds, then, by alternating both menus you will get two weeks worth of rations at almost no additional cost.

Mate and tortas fritas during an expedition.
Mate and tortas fritas during an expedition.

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