Saturday, April 11, 2009

Making S'mores For The Very First Time: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Last weekend, my fiancee Ramona had a friend who celebrated her 30th birthday by camping at Malibu State Park. Ramona and I were two of several friends to be invited to join in the celebration and hike, barbecue, play games, share ghost stories around the campfire...

...and make s'mores.

For those international readers of mine who don't know what s'mores are, I've invited my good friends from Wikipedia to explain that s'mores "are a traditional campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada, consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker."

And it's here that I have a confession:

Until last weekend, I had never made a s'more around the campfire.

Never. Not once.

And here's the weird thing: I've been camping a fair number of times as a kid; to Yosemite, Bishop, state parks and so forth. And at many of these outings, a roaring campfire could be found. But for whatever reason -- a worry about safety, a severe marshmallow shortage in the area I happened to be in at the time -- I had never once had the opportunity to make a campfire s'more.

So there was I last weekend, at age 29, about to make my first chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker concoction.

And at first, I wasn't too concerned. After all, I've seen this done on TV plenty of times. You roast the marshmallow on the campfire, blow out the flame, stick a piece of chocolate on the graham cracker, place the roasted marshmallow on the chocolate, add another graham cracker, and boom, you're done.

Oh, if only it were that simple. :-)

Ramona, an expert campfire s'more maker, explained to me that there was more to making s'mores than just adding the proper ingredients. There was finding the right stick, proper technique on roasting the marshmallow, cooking the chocolate and graham cracker, adding everything together at just the right time.

The simplicity of s'mores had just become a calculus equation.

First, there was the choosing of your marshmallow stick. Now in today's marshallow stick-evolved society, you can actually buy sharpened wooden sticks with the sole purpose of roasting marshmallows. These sticks, which looked and sounded pretty good to me, were available last weekend.

But to old school s'more maker Ramona, to use anything other than some type of wooden branch was a sin. So instead of the friendly wooden sticks, we went off to a nearby plant and started breaking off branches for our marshmallows.

Now, here's my question when it comes to marshmallow branches: What constitutes a proper branch to roast a marshmallow? Length? Thickness? An indominatble will to succeed? Ramona found her perfect branch in 1.4 seconds. It took me 17 tries before I found a branch that made her say:

Well, I guess that's good enough.

And then there's the cooking of the s'more stuff. Ramona explained that the key to a perfect s'more was to use the campfire grill to cook the chocolate and graham cracker while simultaneously roasting your marshmallow. It was vital, she said, to keep your marshmallow over the flame but not in it, all the while watching your chocolate and graham cracker constantly to make sure it didn't melt and fall into the fire.

Ramona made herself a s'more worthy of reverance on "Iron Chef." It was that good.

My s'more making experience went something like this:

Nev, you're cooking your marshmallow too close to the flame!!

Nev, you need to move your chocolate and graham cracker to the center of the grill!!

Nev, your marshmallow branch can't hold that many marshmallows!!

(note: I had one marshmallow on the branch!!)

Nev, your marshmallow is on fire!!

Nev, blow out the fire!!

Nev, your marshmallow is ruined!!

Nev, your chocolate and graham cracker is on fire!!

You get the idea.

Eventually, Ramona took pity on me and made me one of her perfect s'mores.

But not before I ate my own s'more.

That's right: My s'more was charred, unrecognizable and, quite frankly, inedible. But I ate it anyway. Why? Because it was mine. My first campfire s'more, that I made all by myself. And I wanted the experience of tasting my first s'more creation.

And that experience -- of eating something that tasted like burnt logs -- will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Next time: Friendly wooden sticks!!


And now for this week's:


This week, I was asked the following two questions in regards to my upcoming wedding:

What kind of caligraphy do you want for the invitation addresses?


What kind of stamps do you want on the envelopes?


I voted for having the addresses written by a 3-year-old in crayon and lobbied for the Muhammad Ali commemorative stamp.

I lost on both fronts.

So much for the whole "It's Your Wedding" concept.



Carlos said...


Don't feel bad; I didn't know what a s'more was until an old Marine buddy told me about them. He was from the Midwest. Growing up in the Valley and L.A., why would I know about s'mores.
When my old Marine friend was telling me about them, he looked at me as if I was a retard for not knowing what one is and I looked at him thinking he was a retard for eating one over a campfire.

Though, I wonder, you went to Malibu State Park where hiking, and camping there is great. That park is beautiful with a great ocean view and many excellent places to hike but yet, the only think you decide to write about is s'mores???
What's wrong with you Nevin?

Mike said...

You have international readers?

Another Suburban Mom said...

Honey, its NOT your wedding. You are an accessory, like the centerpieces. Just nod and say the magic words, "Yes sweetie"

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