Tonight is Lag Ba’omer, the bonfire holiday, and the air will soon be thick with the smell of smoke. One of the possible interpretations for the holiday is that it marks the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132 C.E., which failed and led to the Romans destroying the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. No better reason to celebrate, right?
The more stuff you eat on Lag Ba’omer that passed through the fire, the better. Since beach campfires are popular, this means that you wind up consuming a good dose of soot and sand with your food. Clearly, this only enhances the flavor. Plus, it’s dark, so you can’t tell what you’re eating.
We decided to beat the rush and have our bonfire last weekend. As did many, many other people on the beach that night. Anyway, here are some things that can be cooked in a campfire:
POTATOES: Wrap them well in tinfoil and put them in the fire, but someplace you’ll be able to find them. We arranged them neatly on a burning board, as in the photo. Large potatoes can be cut in half, so that they bake more quickly. Pull them out of the flames when they feel soft when poked at with a stick. My friend Tala also recommended hollowing out an egg-sized well in each potato, cracking an egg into it and wrapping it well with foil. We didn’t try it, but you could.
SWEET POTATOES: Prepared much like potatoes. Dress with cinnamon and nutmeg once baked.
GARLIC: Wrap a head of garlic in tinfoil and put into the fire, but not in the hottest spot. It cooks more quickly than the potatoes. Pull off individual cloves and suck the meat out from the papery skin.
EGGPLANT: Fire-roasted eggplant is a wonderful thing. Wrap well with foil, stick it into the fire and remove once it feels very soft. Scoop out the flesh from inside the skin, and mix with tahini or salt (or just eat it with a spoon).
BANANAS: Leaving the peel on, slice a lengthwise slit into each banana and fill with pieces of chocolate. Wrap well with foil, and put into a low fire (burning coals are good for this). Remove once the bananas are soft, and eat the gooey chocolate and banana mush with a spoon.
Some of our friends made hamburgers and kebabs on a grill next to the campfire, so we brought some slices of tofu marinated in barbecue sauce in order to feel like we were part of the celebration. We ate the tofu inside pitas. It was not bad, but it wasn’t amazing, either. I welcome to your suggestions as to other possible vegetarian “grilled” foods.