Ray Mears & Osa Cookery Book

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I worked with Ray Mears when he was making the Ray Mears Extreme Survival series for the BBC. We filmed a jungle episode here actually, in Corcovado National Park, and for the bits that required slashing of vines, gathering of palms, constructing our shelters and sleeping out, all of which wasn’t permitted in the park, out in this very private reserve that adjoins it. I’m not sure if I knew then what I know now about the healthy population of pumas, I’d have slept quite so soundly under the stars on my stick platform. Or, as location advisor, have necessary recommended it to Ray and the crew. But there we go; all’s well that ends well.

Actually, I think we came closer to losing Ray when camping for an extended period of time on a beach in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia, filming a dramatic reconstruction of a story in which men battled relentlessly against intense heat, black clouds of ferocious mosquitoes, saltwater crocodiles and great white sharks. Yeah. We certainly got that location right. After some nights, it was possible to shine a torch from the tent and pick out the red eyes of salties lurking offshore. It was a lonely trek to the far end of the beach with a shovel, I can tell you.

After about a week, we began to see tracks on the beach. One night, following what I regard as a rash move on Ray’s part, to spear  a big crab and bury it in the sand beside his tent until it stank, we, the crew, were gathered around a fire, armed with a shotgun, drinking Australian red and playing cards for money, when we spotted a massive crocodile stealthily approaching Ray’s tent in the gloom. Ray did things 100 percent properly and by the survival book at all times, removing himself from the hoi poloi, rinsing out his socks and putting them on little sticks, keeping his own company,  or at least communing with nature, going to ‘bed’ early, getting up early, and always lighting a fire (the way some tribesman showed him) for morale. And so he was on his own, and probably asleep. I have to say that, much as we all loved and respected Ray, we, the crew, did find this hysterically funny. To be honest, we were laughing so much imagining the satellite phone call we’d have to make back to the UK office (“Good news and bad news. We’ve got some really great footage . . . but . . . “) that I can’t recall what happened next. Suffice to say Ray survived unscathed.

Anyway, the point of this story, is to say that Ray is utterly committed to foraging for his food, and he made us eat some truly disgusting stuff. Compared to some of the ‘nutritious’ snacks he managed to get some of us to try, such as ants and long, flaccid mangrove worms, our meals on the Osa were slap-up gourmet feasts, with freshwater shrimp and heart of palm washed down with a nice bit of water drunk from a bijagua vine. (Not that I didn’t supplement this diet with my secret stash of Cadbury’s Mini-Eggs).

That scouty foraging notwithstanding, I think, by having a few basic essentials brought in by boat from the metropolis of Sierpe, I can make a better job of jungle survival on this front. I pride myself on having created a number of recipes (specifically 4 . . . so far) for satisfying meals requiring few ingredients and zero effort (which is a plus in the Osa climate).

I shall count  Rum and Coke, Nectar of the Gods as Recipe 1. Here now is Recipe 2: Fruit Salad.

Get mangoes. Chop them up. Check outside to see if any papayas or grapefruit have fallen – if so chop them up. Add a squeeze of lemon, and voila!

Check back soon for Recipe 3. Publishers get in touch!

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