Remember my Firing Order editorial from a couple issues ago in which I rant and rail against hacky editors who just rebarf info about what’s “in this issue”? Well, in this issue you’ll notice a lot of mud-themed content. If you love it, you can thank our long-time senior editor, Ken Brubaker, ’cause he put this issue together. I just babysat the workflow while I was on an editor-vacation-beach getting pedicures and sipping frosty lady-drinks in the sand. Okay, that’s really not the reason why Ken built the runsheet for this issue. How do you keep a monkey in suspense? We’ll tell you the real reason a bit later, but for now, it’s time to segue into one of my patented transitions from the opening paragraph.
I’m writing this little piece from the lobby of my hotel during Easter Jeep Safari, so if it feels a bit rushed, it’s only because I’m more in a mood to go wheeling and less of a mood to be sitting in the lobby of my hotel during Easter Jeep Safari typing. So, here’s my topic: off-roading versus cooking. The analogy came to me the other day on the trail while watching a “rock racer” guy trying to play trail boss. You can have a chef who knows how to create awesome dishes from scratch. He knows what combinations of ingredients work well together and which don’t, and the really good chefs can even step in and save a dish that would otherwise have to be thrown away by adding a pinch of this and a dash of that because they know how the other ingredients will react. Then you have the food critics. They may not have the slightest idea what goes into something—they just know if it tastes good or not, if things blend well with other things, and so on. So, they understand the finished product but not the nuts and bolts it takes to get there.
That’s what I witnessed the other day on the trail. We had a rock-racing food critic trying to play spotter and trial boss on the trail. I’m sure he was a good dude and certainly knew the recipe for getting his rock racer up and through the trail, but when it came time to show other vehicles with different centers of gravity, wheelbases, and traction devices through the trail, the soufflé dropped and the pudding got burned on the bottom. Stacking rocks where they don’t go, spotting rigs into bad lines that didn’t work over and over again, putting tires into undercuts, and so on. To most off-road chefs, stuff like this is just cooking 101. And when it came time to perform a field fix, forget it. “That’s it. Just call in the race team helicopter to come pick us up and let’s let the pit crew come fix this tomorrow.” Eff that, man. Let’s MacGyver the ever-loving snot out of this sombitch and get everybody off the trail. This chef leaves no man behind and no vehicle blocking the trail.
So, that’s my rant for this month. Food critic all you want, but if you’re in the kitchen trying to play chef and you’re accomplishing little more than giving food poisoning to all the off-roaders you’re sharing the trail with, go back to cooking school for a few years. When you come up from small beginnings, breaking stock parts and having to rig stuff together to get off the trail, you hone not only the skills of ingenuity effecting a trial repair, but more importantly, how to prevent the same break from happening next time. In my opinion, it provides you with a much fuller skillset than if you start off in a 450 hp rock racer with bombproof Dynatracs and bypass shocks. And that’s my cooking tip of the month.