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Apocalypse Chow?

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By James Geneau

Growing up in the 80s under the threat of thermo-nuclear war, I was relieved as a teenager when the Berlin wall fell, and have gone about life pretty much care-free. But in recent weeks, I have been surprised by the new surge in hype over the threat of a major conflict between the US and Russia. Now don't get me wrong, I am not a panicking Nelly. However, I did think for a minute about a new Cold War and how I would prepare. Now I know this is a serious issue and I certainly hope I don't offend anyone with this article, but at the same time I thought it would be valuable to provide some of my thoughts on how to prepare for a new cold-war and a potential apocalypse.

So, what should one do? Well, if I pull out my early grade school books, the first thing to do is get your bunker ready. I live on the 23rd floor of a condo but the country place would be great for a bunker. I am less concerned about the cost of building one (country contractors are generally cheaper than Toronto ones) but my biggest concern would be what I would stock in terms of rations. You know, in case I have to bunker-down for a few months with the dog until it is safe to come back up and continue my gardening - well, what would be left of it anyway.

First off, I would probably need some wine. This is the staple for any modern-day bunker in my opinion. You are going to need friends while you are down there and frankly - the more wine you drink the more friends you will see. What a hard choice to make. I would probably go with convenience combined with quality. Since the country place is in Eastern Ontario, I would probably stop by Norman Hardie's vineyard in Prince Edward County and grab a couple of cases of Pinot. I have to say, he makes some of the best bottles you will never find at the liquor store. I think it would be an ideal stock-pile for those long Nuclear Winter nights.

In terms of non-perishables, I would certainly need to stock up on preserves as I cannot have dry scones without some form of fruit preserve to accompany them. While my absolute favourite would be Little Scarlet Strawberry Jam from Wilkins & Sons, I would also stock up on some preserves and pickles from my favourite Terroir butcher in Cheneville, Quebec, Boucherie David. Quebec? So far? Yes, I like them that much. If I had to choose, I would have some strawberry jam and their summer pickles sent via Fedex. Probably a good 10-20 jars each should be fine. It can be a treat for those monumental events like Day 203, or Happy "Ran Out of Toilet Paper" Day - while sitting alone in one's bunker.

Dry pasta is a good ration for the bunker but fresh sauce would be hard to come by given that my local farmer's market would still be on fire or if not, certainly closed for the Saturday. For this, you need to plan ahead and get out to your local farmer's market ASAP to grab some ripe, plump, tomatoes. Even if the world does not come to an end, you have no excuse for making a great tomato-basil sauce and stock-piling it for a rainy day. So what if it happens to be raining nuclear war-heads the day you use them, you will be the envy of your neighbours when you have a lovely Italian feast with organic tomato basil sauce you made yourself. Of course, you might want to send the invitations out a bit in advance. It could take months for Sue and John to dig themselves over to your bunker from their own bunker next door.

I think the biggest issue for any nuclear foodie is fresh produce. After all, how on earth does one go a year to two years on canned asparagus? Why not try growing your own produce in your bunker? A bunker-foodie will make sure that this is part of the architectural drawings from day-one. You can stock up on organic seeds from a wide variety of suppliers and get the required lighting and water filtration system from your local Home Depot. This will probably be one of the most expensive ventures for your nuclear hideaway but it will be money well-spent when you have fresh basil for your pesto or cilantro for that impromptu movie night with homemade salsa and chips.

That brings you to another great thing about bunkers; they are the ideal space for growing mushrooms. Cold, damp, and isolated, mushrooms should thrive in your bunker and you should take advantage of this climate to grow some great fungi. Just think about all the great dishes you could prepare with mushrooms! My personal favourite is fresh bunker mushrooms harvested from the dark area next to the generator saut´┐Żed with olive oil and garlic and tossed with pine nuts and fettuccine. This is a great winter dish, if you are keeping track of the days and can actually tell the difference from 30 feet below ground.

Finally, some after dinner spirits are certainly a must-have for any cold-war bunker. Scotch is by far the best spirit for your bunker and will age nicely in the darkness of your secluded safety villa. After all, if Sue and John are going to spend 3 months getting to your dinner party digging a hole with a cheap shovel and a beach bucket, they will want a stiff drink for the crawl home. If Scotch is not your thing, Vodka will also chill nicely in the coolest corner of your bunker. Why not make a "bunkertini", a great cocktail consisting of two shots of cranberry juice, two shots of Vodka, and the syrup from some canned pears? It can be served with either an American flag or a Russian one, just listen to the news reports from your transistor radio and make a judgement call based on your best hostess "gut feeling".
So there you have it, some great ideas for the perfect foodie bunker. In all seriousness, I certainly hope it does not come to this. But, as the perfectionist planner that I am, I certainly need to be prepared. So should you! After all, do you want to be serving Ritz Crackers with spray cheese when 30 of your neighbours decide to spend a 3 year "sit-down" with you? I think not! In fact, I may just stock up on caviar and hot dogs - you never know how this will turn out and you always want to make a good first impression when you crawl out of that bunker!


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