“Jack London told me years ago that a steady diet of train smoke and canned beans will kill you. It was time to get off the road for a while. I had a well worn hat and a fully stocked bindle. What I needed now was a hot bath and a square meal– served up proper– by a female.
Now, this not to say that I haven’t had many a good camp meal in my time. As a matter of fact, honest grub cooked over an open fire by a talented camp cook rivals the best that Paris has to offer. And, Kephart was among the best of these backwoods chefs. He moved around the cook fire, the pots, the pans and the food bags more naturally than anyone I ever saw. And, he served up his meals with a dash of strong opinions ranging from Shakespeare’s true identity to the value of Abercrombie and Fitch’s latest camp gizmos.
Most memorable to me was a mid-day meal old Kep conjured up one day from a string of trout, a bag of cornmeal, a slab of salt-cured bacon, and a hat full of pot herbs gathered by the creek. It was a sight to behold. There in a wet green cove–deep in the Smokey Mountains–four men (me, Kephart, a Japanese photographer, and an old Cherokee woodcarver from Big Cove) ate like starving wolves. We licked our fingers, we licked our forks, we licked our plates—and I would have licked the very ground had I been so foolish as to have dropped a single morsel.
Gypsy Jack, 1923