I’m not sure what it is about skiing, but I am always ravenous before, during and after. Then again, I tend to eat a lot all the time, so maybe there’s no real difference. Either way, it’s important to get the right food in when you’re skiing, as with any exercise. This is not a nutritional guide. No way. I like to eat healthy food as a general rule, but there is always a time and a place for some junk in my book. Skiing can be this time.
A good breakfast is the key to any day, be that a ski day, quiet one in the club, or even a day spent surfing the net for ski videos when you should be working. Everyone has different ideas about what a good breakfast looks like. Dylan is a firm believer in wholegrain oat porridge; Mum always tells me that I can’t go wrong with weetbix; while I myself am I real toast kind of girl. Nice thick bread, two pieces undercooked and then left to go cold, spread thick with butter, vegemite and honey (not mixed together, although one of my brothers swears by this). This has to be accompanied by a good cup of tea, then a road beer and half a One Square Meal as we head out to the mountain.
A road beer, you ask? Yes. This is a trick I’ve picked up off yet another of my brothers. He always drinks a beer before skiing, starting at the bottom of the access road, and finished by the car park. The first time I tried it was a bit rough, especially given that particular brother’s fondness for Double Brown. Now though, I don’t feel quite right buckling my boots if I don’t have a road beer in my system, it’s all part of the ritual. Please don’t fear that I’m alcohol dependent: the beer is always one with a low percentage, and only one is ever consumed on the drive.
Once up the hill, my favourite ski feeds usually involve considerable amounts of piping hot carbohydrates. Thick ham and cheese toasties are the ideal order of the day. Craigieburn has a truly spectacular toastie machine, located on top of the potbelly stove. You lift the metal lid, pop your sandwich in, and sit down for a yarn with the ski bums while your toastie cooks on the heat of the fire. Of course, commercial fields often lack such amenities, and with the price of food astronomically high, it’s often best to take your own.
Yet again, this is where the club fields come into their own. Because they’re not driven solely by profit, these small ventures often feature locally made food at really very good prices, considering the lodges are usually located halfway up a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Last weekend we went up Mt Cheeseman, and discovered to our joy that huge sausage rolls in the friendly club rooms were just $2.50, and a cheeky toastie with all the fillings was $3.50 – try finding those sorts of prices at the Knoll Ridge Café!
Perhaps the best of the club field food comes out on sunny days. At both Craigieburn and Broken River there are barbecues on the deck of the day lodges, where happy punters can cook their own sausages, hamburgers and other lunchtime treats. There’s nothing quite like sitting on the edge of a spectacular vista, sipping a glass of Broken River lager from their on-deck keg, and munching away on a freshly grilled burger.
When legs get tired after lunch, and the big skis become a bit harder to turn, it often leads to some grumpiness. The one-stop cure for this is a bar of white chocolate, stashed away in a back pocket, and always pulled out at just the right moment. This idea came from an old friend of ours named Taz, who always has a bar in his pocket for his daughter Jorja! The chocolate has to be white, and Milky Bar is best. A couple of squares administered to a grumpy or upset skier (young or old) can work wonders.
Most of Canterbury has a particular ritual on the way back from skiing, and it certainly doesn’t add to the nutritional value of the day. The Sheffield Pie shop is famous throughout the region, and for good reason, with its spectacularly good range of pies. Bellies full to bursting, we drive the final stretch home, there to collapse on the couch before someone rouses themselves to make the mulled wine and pull the cheese out of the fridge.
I’m sure my eating habits while skiing are nutritionally disastrous, and any dietician would have a heart attack at the sight of the food usually packed into my ski pack. But somehow, skiing seems to go hand in hand with that hearty, quintessentially kiwi food. Off field, I usually wouldn’t go within 10 feet of a pie, but something about mountain air and two planks of wood under my feet has me abandoning my usual habits, and embracing the joys of ski food.