The floodwaters are rising, the earth is quaking, zombies are breaking down your back door and you have a house full of dinner guests (of the living kind). Your first instinct may be to pop open a can of Dinty Moore, but you can do better than that. The key to surviving extreme circumstances is to not give up. Do not give up hope, and do not give up your basic human need for fine foods.
The typical survival kit calls for water, energy bars, and dried and canned goods. That's a good start, but boosting those bland emergency supplies is easy; there are a number of gourmet goods on the market that are shelf-stable and delicious. Can you think of a better way to take your mind off a nuclear disaster than a good meal? With a little forethought you can be all the rage at the next bomb shelter shindig.
• Rougié canned foie gras has a shelf life of three years and is delicious enough to lift any downtrodden spirit during a disaster. Keeping a couple of these small cans of culinary perfection in the pantry is invaluable not only in an act-of-god type emergency but also when guests drop by unexpectedly. Canned pâté would suffice as a low-price alternative to foie gras, but is this really the time to skimp?
• Instead of stocking Starkist tuna, opt for ventresca. Ventresca are fillets sliced from the belly of the tuna. Rich and smooth, this flavor-packed fish can be eaten straight from the can. Tins of ventresca are more expensive than the typical grocery store varieties, but they could serve as welcome distractions from your dire situation.
• When it comes to preserved meat, nothing beats the longevity of jerky. Skip the Slim Jims and try jerky made from exotic meats such as wild boar or kangaroo. Snacking on dried ostrich is somehow more elegant than gnawing on Oberto.
• It's also advisable to keep sauces and condiments that don't require refrigeration on hand. Buy small jars of these products, as many must be chilled after opening. Hot sauces, vinegars and most mustards are perfectly safe stored at room temperature.
• Buy crackers in tins to serve up your foie gras or ventresca. For a cracker that can stand up to any sort of plague, invasion or climate shift, try hardtack. Incredibly hard and versatile, these old-school crackers can be soaked in coffee or fruit juice to create a simple treat. Hardtack soaked in condensed milk is called milk toast, a dish once loved by sailors and soldiers.
• For entrées, hit up a camping supply store. Dehydrated foods have come a long way in the past two decades. Backpacker’s Pantry, from Boulder, Colo., packages gourmet meals that require little more than hot water and ten minutes of cook time. The selection is surprisingly extensive with items such as ginger-teriyaki stir fry, pasta vegetable parmigiana and pesto salmon pasta. There’s even cheesecake for dessert. The quality of these items puts Hamburger Helper to shame, and can lend sophistication to your root cellar while you ride out twisters.
• After a few days of plain old bottled water, even the most die-hard health nut can get a little testy. Tea bags and coffee “filter packs,” packaged in small tins, could be the best part of waking up to power outages and anarchy. And a hurricane or sudden ice age would be a most appropriate time to break out the Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs canned sparkling wine. You might as well toast the horsemen of the Apocalypse before you're consumed by locusts.