Field Food

Maple syrup
Bloody Mary Mix
Hot Sauce
Trader Joe’s Junk Food
Gummy Bears
Dried Fruit
Canned Pumpkin
Wasabi Peas

Going into the field has a lot of romance attached to it, undoubtedly dating back from the great expeditions of the Victorians. They had near legendary kit–often importing all of their food and other supplies rather than relying on what they perceived as the primitive living conditions in the local communities. While many of us envy the steamer trunks, natty tweeds, and vast wealth of the early archaeologists, their colonialist outlook and general disregard for the local populations are things that our profession has been trying to shake off for a while.

When I first went to Turkey I was convinced to bring energy bars, peanut butter, coffee, chocolate and the requisite duty-free gin–weighing down my luggage considerably. I now consider this a bit ridiculous as well as unwieldy; there are grocery stores and local food is available, because, y’know, what would people eat otherwise? Now I try to discourage students from bringing more than just a couple of treats, and it’s always a real pain when they refuse to eat the local food. I’m a vegetarian at home but bringing this habit into the field is unreasonable and at times outright rude–refusing food that is shared with you is bad manners in pretty much every culture that I’ve encountered.

Still, many of us still bring a few treats with us, and the above list was compiled after I asked my fellow grads what they miss in the field. I am putting together a little package to send to my friend Allie in Antartica (I don’t think she reads my blog, so it’s safe!) and was having a hard time thinking of things to put in the box.  The only thing that I’d really want to bring these days would be coffee, but having it with me always gets my bags searched–I guess some people use it to hide the smell of drugs–so I haven’t bothered for the last couple of years.

I’m headed to Qatar for a few months this winter, so this question has been on my mind. I usually miss Thai food and tacos when I’m in the field. Maybe I’ll bring some spices and learn how to make my own tortillas.

What do you bring into the field? What would you miss the most?

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