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What Youth Eats: On a Trip Bridging the disconnect between great waves and crappy food on surf trips

Photos: Paul Brewer

I haven’t been lucky enough to be on a fancy boat trip with a private chef, but I have been on plenty of surf trips where we’re in the middle of nowhere without so much as a taco stand in sight. So what to eat? Usually it’s an early question on that road between the airport and the house or camp, and usually that ends with a pack of confused wolves wandering the aisles of the Costco or Mini Super or damn bodega filling the cart with whatever supplies for the week. Here’s a somewhat typical checkout list:

  • Some fruit. Probably 3 bananas. For 5 dudes. For 4 days.
  • Like five different kinds of milk: people are particular these days with their dietary needs.
  • Spaghetti noodles with pre-made red sauce: it’s easy!
  • Frozen shit: French fries, mini-pizzas, shit.
  • Hot dogs: with all the stuff. Bottles of ketchup and mustard that are for sure going to be ¾ full and in the trash at the end of the trip.
  • Cookies: because you’re on vacay and you gotta treat yourself.
  • Bottles of beverages: Weird sodas and iced teas and other stuff you’d never buy at home.
  • The obligatory 30 rack.

The theme here is a bunch of basic stuff that’s kind of unappetizing, pretty uncultured, and very uninspired. And yes, extremely unhealthy.

Look, I’m 100 percent down with keeping it easy and simple on these trips. After all, eyes are on the prize and it’s a surf trip, not an Emeril Lagasse cooking class in Italy. But maybe we can elevate. Maybe this can inspire a little.

Try this on your next surf trip: 

SOME ORDER: First, put one person in charge of groceries to avoid the “too many chiefs in the grocery store” syndrome. One organized guy with a list is better than a bunch of lost souls wandering the store. Give him a list, give him some cash and let him run with it.

SOMETHING COLORFUL: That means tons of salad greens, veggies and fruit. If it’s there in the kitchen, it’s probably going to get eaten. They’ll get snacked on, grilled and worked in to other stuff. Eat your veggies so you can surf longer.

SOMETHING REFRESHING: I’m not going to tell you what to buy here, I’m sure you’re savvy enough to make yourself as inebriated and hydrated as you please. But I do have a water request. Please be somewhat conscience and don’t buy those stupid single serve 12 oz plastic water bottles. They’re wasteful and you look kind of silly sipping out them. Get yourself the giant jugs, the biggest the store has, and fill a glass. Or, gasp, drink tap water, unless your destination prohibits it.

SOMETHING TO THROW IN YOUR PACK: Dried fruit, nuts, simple bars. Load up, these will be hot items.

SOMETHING TO GRILL: If you’re into meat, load up, but also get lots more veggies and shrooms too. Also, grill some bread. And if you’re on a surf trip, you’re likely near some fresh fish, so save space in the fridge for that. Make lots of extras so you can have the leftovers for easy lunch the next day. What if your spot doesn’t have a grill? Well then make one, or make a bonfire and cook on that. You’re a man with Neanderthal in your veins, so figure it out.


RICE! RICE! RICE! Because it fills bellies and goes a long way.

CHIPS & SALSA because obviously.

EGGS for breakfast and eggs to boil for ready-made snacks.

GRANOLA for breakfast.

SOMETHING LOCAL: Yes, it’s a surf trip, but you are in a new part of the world, filled with all sorts of rad things besides waves. So maybe skip the McDonalds and channel your inner Bourdain. What do the locals eat and drink? Is there anything weird you can try that you don’t have back home? Some smelly cheese, special fish, crickets? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something new for you out there. And it will lend to a story you’ll tell for years to come, and that’s what we’re after everyone.

I know none of this is game changing, but it doesn’t need to be. Bring some common sense and some thought to your next adventure. Your trip will be that much better for it.—Paul Brewer


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