There are camping traditions and then, there are perfect camping traditions. One of these is the necessity to make and eat at least one s’more per trip. To some, it’s not the taste of these morsels but the activity itself. This is especially true for that point in the camping trip when your children say, “There’s nothing to do. We’re boooooored!”
Personally, I am good for more than one s’more per day for each trip, but some people may find this a bit too much for their waistlines.
To those not familiar, a s’more is a toasted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate sandwiched between two Graham wafer halves. They are a little on the rich side, and those of us with beards also have issues too gooey to discuss in polite company.
There are multitudinous opinions on what constitutes a perfect s’more. Some are traditionalists, insisting that the marshmallows must be toasted and placed upon an unheated chocolate piece and wafers. Some are more picky, heating their wafers and chocolate over the campfire to assure the ultimate level of gooeyness. (Note, again, that having a beard complicates this option.)
In a campfire setting, this latter version offers the opportunity for burnt fingers and the frustration of wafers and chocolate pieces constantly falling into the campfire, with the additional difficulties being compounded by this commonly being an activity for later in the evening after a few too many camping beverages have been consumed. Suffice to say, too many s’mores eaten in this condition makes the next morning a lot harder to experience.
Then, there are the wild and crazy crowd who feast upon nonconventional s’mores, manufactured in microwaves in condo kitchens, denying the truly wild nature of the delicacy itself. This involves constant supervision, as anyone who has watched the almost obscene growth speed and behaviour exhibited by a marshmallow in a microwave.
(Those of us who were raised on 1950s black and white science fiction movie monsters and have microwaved marshmallows are constantly amazed at how prescient those movie directors were.)
Should you choose a more conformist method of making s’mores, please remember that perfection lies in the toasting of the marshmallow itself. You have to wait until the fire is coals, and woe betide the one who attempts to do so right after throwing in a new piece of wood or two. They’re flammable little buggers.
Ideally, your marshmallow should be brown around the outside. While picky, even I will tolerate the tops and bottoms not being thoroughly toasted golden brown. They also have to be done evenly, not brown and smooth one one side and white on the other. Done to the point of wartiness is no-no, as any chef knows the value of presentation. Setting them aflame is beyond the bounds of good taste.
Note that if it does burst into flames, blowing it out is a requirement. Waving it out on the end of the stick must be avoided, particularly if someone is directly across the campfire from you. While your children may yell, “Wow, that’s cool,” setting your domestic partner’s hair on fire does little for domesticity and sleeping on the picnic table is not preferable to doing so inside your tent or camper. Remember that it rains here often.
The camping season here is, sadly, shorter than in southern climes, even for the most hardy. This relegates you to either committing s’more blasphemy and using the microwave, or becoming a bit more flexible about your means of combustion. Hence, a good s’more aficionado is willing to forgo full tradition and embrace the concept of the propane barbecue.
You can approach this in a standard method, or can improvise. I am the owner of a s’more maker. It has two kebab holder-style pins you skewer and place your marshmallows on while it also has a rack for heating your Graham wafers and chocolate.
I’m not a gadget person, per se, and “as advertised on TV” to me means “doesn’t work worth a tinker’s damn. This thing, however, works great even if you could get away with a long fork.
This brings us to the concept of the perfect s’more. Is there such a thing? I’ve seen so many varieties of doing them that it probably doesn’t exist in one form. My suggestion: If it has a cooked marshmallow, Graham wafers, and chocolate, and isn’t burnt to the point of cremation, it’s probably pretty good. So, regardless of its mode of creation, feel free to indulge…