Marshmallows in firelight

Sitting on the deck as the moon rose and the sun set one night this week, I was struck by memories of summers as a kid, when one of the things we did on a Friday night was to have a bonfire.

Whether it was camping trips in the interior of B.C. or times visiting my cousins in Vancouver, sitting around a fire was one of the decadent things I remember in my teens.

Of course, the ubiquitous snack around our campfires was the unassuming marshmallow. (In those days sugar was enough rebellion against our parents – the thought of any contraband stronger than that was not worth the risk.)  No messing around with something as silly as s’mores; we were marshmallow purists, we were.

I don’t know if young people today find something as monochromatic as a bonfire interesting. We saw the magic in the firelight, we were mesmerized by the flickering flames and — if we were fortunate — by the strumming of a guitar.

It was around a campfire that I learned the many verses of “Esther’s Hebrew Camp” (sung to the tune of a more well-known folk favourite by Arlo Guthrie, Alice’s Restaurant – this version was just as irreverent).

It was also around a campfire that I had my first kiss. I have many campfire tales, not just the ghost stories we told but also adventures we had.

I will never forget the summer we spent in the Rockies, hiking the trails of the Illecillewaet Glacier  one afternoon and getting caught in a torrential downpour on the return trip.

This was the summer I got my first pair of sneakers that looked even close to the coveted double stripe suede Adidas of my childhood, and it was the closest I had been so far to being cool (I needed all the help I could get).

Everyone’s shoes were soaked upon our return. Since we were tent camping, we put them around the fire that evening to dry them out. The only problem was, mine were made of vinyl.

I am sure I don’t need to explain the gory details. Suffice it to say, the only thing that made me feel a bit better was getting ready to roast marshmallows. Little did I know the night’s adventures had only begun...

I will interject a bit more background here, letting you know that my cousin (who is the same age as me)  was a rather rambunctious child. (He has kids of his own now, and bought them each “Super Soaker” water guns so that when they had water fights, they could really hold their own – you can see he hasn’t lost his charm.)

Well, the marshmallows and the sticks came out for roasting time, and soon the flamboyant gestures begun. My cousin knew better than to try manoeuvres like those of some sword fighter in medieval times, but he just couldn’t resist.

In between “dodge” and “spin” I think, was when he managed to get his stick — with cooked (and very sticky) marshmallow — stuck in my hair, at the back of my left pigtail. Again, I won’t bore you with the gory details; the only thing I will say is that I bear no permanent scars from the event.

At the time, I was mortified and crushed that I could be subject to such cruelty and humiliation (and all in one night too). But you know what? I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world. I seem to remember my Dad telling me that such experiences “built character,” and he was right.

They are the stuff that holds families and friendships together. My cousin sent me a flaming marshmallow emoji on Facebook not too long ago, in honour of the event. Such symbols are like rites of passage.

I hope that there are kids out there who still get to know the camaraderie that can occur around a campfire. I hope they get to share stories with their parents, and then years later with their kids, around a fire.

“Kumbaya” to each and every one of you.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: We can have times when it is illegal to have a campfire during the summer. This week’s column is simply reminiscing; it is not meant to encourage campfires in an environment where fires are not welcome.

I would hope that anyone entertaining the idea of a fire would take every precaution to ensure it is safe and it is well put out when the fun is over.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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