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Cambridge Underground 1974 pp 34-35


It is now many years since the first rasher of prime streaky bacon was stretched in the dingy kitchen of B.P.C. headquarters at Brackenbottom, but few of those present will ever forget this first, and greatest breakthrough in experimental speleological cuisine. It was the tiny seed from which the great tree was to grow that would come to be known as Gourmet Caving. Now, years later, the Gourmet Cavers are a force to be reckoned with, but they never forget their humble origins or their great founder, and every morning at Brackenbottom the bacon is ceremonially stretched beneath the giant banner with its famous motif displaying the thin grey ribbon and the baggy shorts.

The Cambridge Gourmet Cavers are a dedicated band. They are pledged to maintaining the greatest degree of physical comfort in all caving activities and to fighting on all fronts the unholy intrusion of caving into the fulfilment of basic bodily needs such as warmth, good food and good ale. Bearing the emblems of their order, the beer mug and the spatula, with their battle cry "Drink now, cave later" emblazoned on their wetsuits, they are frequently to be seen bullying, reasoning and pleading with their fellows not to risk the cold and hunger of the Underground, or sabotaging cars in their desperate efforts to spread the word. Recently they have finished compiling a book, "The Complete Guide to Gourmet Caving", which it is hoped will introduce all cavers to a more exciting and realistic approach to their art and of which the folowing is an extract:

"The summer months provide an excellent opportunity to experiment with Gourmet Caving. Cavers are usually plentiful at this time of year and can easily be caught any time after 11.00 pm, when they tend to be sluggish and uncoordinated in their movements. An early riser might be lucky enough to bag a few fine specimens shortly after dawn, when they will put up little resistance, and I know of one enterprising hunter who even discovered a foul and murky pit which turned out to be the cavers' watering place; this he booby-trapped with spectacular results. Having caught your caver, I suggest killing it by the oral injection of vast quantities of alcohol, a humane method which is much appreciated by the caver and gives the flesh a mellow quality which I find most attractive, though the liver and the tiny brain may suffer slightly from the treatment.

"Always use fresh cavers in your cooking when they are available, but in mid-winter the deep-frozen variety, often to be found in the Pen-y-ghent canals, is probably the best substitute. For some special dishes, a pickled caver is very good value, and these can be obtained most Saturday evenings from the Helwith Bridge or the Hunters. Avoid anything preserved in alcohol, but look out for some of the well-oiled brands, which are extremely succulent.

"For individual cuts I would recommend a nice piece of Talbot rumps - these fleshy haunches are much sought after by Gourmets and are likely to get expensive. Dressed in very little and roasted slowly over burning neoprene, then tastefully served on a brassiere, this is usually a most successful offering. Or try some breast of Nichols - a cheap, tough-looking meat which turns out to be flabby and easily handled when properly plucked. A shoulder of Leach is always acceptable, but for best results should be jointed and tied up with string. Finally, some people enjoy stuffed belly of Griffiths. Avoid sweetbreads.

"Try some of these nauseating recipes:-

Mathews (or ½ pint Haggis)

Ingredients -
1 Mathews
1 Oat

With a sharp knife, remove the bladder and what is left of the liver from the Mathews. Disinfect. Mince the liver with the oat, season well, and stuff the bladder, securing with a strong jubilee clip. Place in a pan of boiling ale and simmer gently. As the ale penetrates the membrane, the bladder will expand and the bladder will explode. If you like, you can entertain your guests by performing this operation on a table burner, but do take sensible rpecautions. Sprinkle with carbide of calcium and serve flambé.

Shackleton Stew

(a warm colourful dish for those grey winter evenings)

Ingredients -
1 Shackleton
1 gall. KH stock
1 Pair Boots
1 P.U.
1 Broken Helmet

Ask your butcher to brick the Shackleton. It is fun to do this at home, but I find it rather too messy. Hang it from a meathook for a few days, then toss from the top of a big pitch until slightly bruised. Remove the bone and beat vigourously until well creamed. Strain (an ordinary kitchen rack is usually sufficient) and place in a large ammo can with boots, broken helmet and chewed copy of P.U. Pour over KOH stock and leave in a tight, dark, cold place for two years. Serve with porridge.

"Recipes for the world-famous ARSIP fritters and Betzulako Sauce are available to all clubs planning expeditions to the Pyrenees."

Bon Caveur

N.B. "The Complete Guide to Gourmet Caving" will be available early in 1993. Make sure of your copy now by sending £467 + VAT (plus 12p p&p) to:
CUCC Beer Fund,
Caius College Bar,

Evan France

The Alternative Expedition
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CU 1975