What you may have discovered for yourself is the idea of wrapping food in foil, not the idea of cooking food in a hole in the ground.
This from wikipedia: "En Papillote (French: "in parchment") is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but other material such as a paper bag or aluminium foil may be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food. The moisture may be from the food itself or from an added moisture source like water, wine, or stock. En Papillote is perhaps most often used to cook fish and also poultry. Choice of herbs, seasonings and spices depend on the particular recipe being prepared."
It can be a very convenient, if not light, way to do camp cooking. I've done whole sweet potato/yams, a 'crustless' apple pie, store-bought biscuits, etc. by wrapping them and dropping them on/beside the coals. Much of the food was prepared and prewrapped at home. And while coals were necessary, a hole in the ground was not.
Do a Google search. The last time I did I found dozens and dozens of recipes for foil wrapped food including a collectors' item book, Manifold Destiny which provides instruction for putting the foil pack on your engine block to find a hot meal at the end of your drive.
Edited by Fiddleback (10/11/0912:43 PM)
"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution
We had hobo veggies last trip out - some taters, onions, carrots, and spices wrapped in foil, dropped in the coals. I usually take foil, garlic salt and butter or olive oil on backpack trips in case I catch some trout. NOM.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
you can also heat up a rock, dig a hole in the ground and line it with a piece of fresh moosehide flesh side in. fill it with water and wild onions or whatever and drop in the rock. Fold the skin over it and in a while you'll have some great moose soup. Jim YMMV
P.S. Singing the moose song while eating moose soup earns extra points...
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
That was your 1000th post, BTW, I think. Congrats!
Another version of that foil-cooking thing was very popular in the Bahamas when we were cruisin' the sailboat there. And that was cooking red snapper whole (& gutted) with tomatoes, onions, garlic and other spices in the foil on a grill.
Industrious locals and sailors did a beach campfire and put the foiled red snapper in coals in a hole dug in the sand. I didn't because LNT is much more important there. When you get a really high tide all that charcoal mess can really spoil a white sand beach, no matter how deep it was buried and how deserted the island.
(If you froze the fish and stuck it in your pack, it might make a great meal the first night on the trail -- you'd would need to pack out the bones for LNT, since no red snapper in the mountains, at least for the last 1/2 million years or so.)
Foil cooking is great and easy to do - but I wouldn't recommend digging a hole in the ground, even in established rings. Why? There can be roots below and if these catch on fire you can start a fire in a tree - even fire away. Those fires can smolder for days before taking off.
But you do foil cooking where you have a layer of coals, the wrapped food, then more hot coals
Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond: www.trailcooking.com
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I agree with Sarbar--not generally a good idea.
I've had to put out a several fires that have burned tree roots--sometimes for a considerable distance underground. No, I've never been a fire-fighter; it's just a situation I've encountered several times during my many years of outdoor experience. There are always a few idiots who think it's OK to build a fire under a tree, on top of duff and roots. In all these cases extinguishing the smoldering mess involved a lot of digging to get beyond the burned area both horizontally and vertically, and the hauling of a lot of water.
If you can find an area that is all gravel with no organic matter or nearby trees, and not where the land managers insist on Leave No Trace, then it's probably OK.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My tribe used to have a great way of cooking freshly caught salmon. You basically make a big wood stake (maybe a yard long) that's split on the non-sharpened end & shove your fillet in the split. You shove smaller sticks in the split, too, at a right angle to the stake; these hold the fish open. Then you tie off the top of the split as tight as you can to hold it shut. You let your campfire burn down to coals, stick the stake in the dirt so it leans over the fire, and let it cook. You can add a water-soaked aromatic hunk of wood to the fire to add some smokey flavor, too. Alder works well.
For some reason not many people cook like this any more.
I guess this is similar to traditonal methods of cooking in other Pacific Ocean islands, but New Caledonian "bougna" is one of the best local food I have ever eaten! Hole in the ground + banana leaves wrapping + hot rocks...
If it is any relevance to the quality of the food that is cooked in the ground, I can remember when I was much younger and we used to go to the beach and spend a couple of nights (when you could actually do that) and we used to get all kinds of sea food (lobster,fish, crabs, and shrimp and cook them that way. It always came out great. Never over cooked, never under cooked and the taste was always the best. I think you may be on to something...sabre11004...
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!
One I am not a tree hugger, but the days of digging holes,creating new fire rings and soon fires on public lands are just about over. Yes it nice, nice and messy. If you are on private land then do what you like.
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
This was not uncommon among many native peoples, including some Native Americans. I saw some kids doing this when I was a child, as well. They seemed to think that the fish scales would stick to the mud as they opened up the dried coating.
There was a cooking fad several years ago involving a porous clay casserole-type set up. One soaked the clay vessel, top and bottom, in water, added food, then baked the whole thing in an oven. Like the mud, the soaked clay released water to steam the food as the vessel dried again.