Cast Iron Cookware at the Rendezvous

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It all started back in 1994. My boyfriend (now husband) asked if I would consider attending a Rendezvous… “a Rende who”? A rendezvous is otherwise known as primitive camping… camping/living as they did according to our American History/heritage. My husband had been rendezvousing in Germany since the early 1980’s. He tried to explain the camping experience by describing specific events he thought might be of interest to me. First he described my attire. I would be wearing a long white chemise (what the heck is a chemise? It sounds awfully hot!), a floor length skirt made of wool, linen, or cotton (really sounds hot! and not particularly my cup of tea), moccasins (now that sounds cool!), or other “period appropriate shoes,” you know the kind with large brass buckles on the front (YUK) and other strange attire our forefathers (women hopefully) wore in the 1700-1800’s.

Next he proceeded to tell me I could throw knives and tomahawks (now THAT sounds like FUN!), I could shoot a primitive bow, target shoot or go kurplunking (what the heck is that?) using his flintlock rifle or smooth-bore… oh YIPPEE! Once I felt comfortable I could participate in many competitive games/sports and show off my great skill… I’d never thrown a knife or tomahawk in my life but okie dokie… I like a challenge!

So, I thought, ‘what the heck’, I’m an adventurous sort and I pride myself in trying new things at least once. So off we go on an adventure, back in time 300+ years and living out some semblance of American history…Well, here comes the interesting part. In my mind I envisioned several white canvas tents in a campsite strategically placed over an acre or two to allow a certain amount of privacy…am I asking too much here? Well, I come to find the camping arrangements are anything but private and secluded… we’re talking THOUSANDS of people (depending on the event, often 5,000 people and 2,000 tents). Anyway, we arrive at the event and pick our campsite…the really cool thing is that our camp alone measures about 60 feet long and about 30 feet wide and many of the other campers have their tents and flies strategically placed to allow privacy when they want it. The design of the tent (marquee, wedge, wall, tipi) also determines how private your camp can be. I loved having such a huge fly which meant if it rained, I could still sit outside protected by the fly, and listen to the rain, read a book, or play the guitar.

I really did get over the initial shock of camping amongst so many people. In fact I’d learned ways to seek solitude when I wanted it… and found others just like me… some were fishing, others played music, some worked on crafts such as jewelry making, leather work, pottery, some hung around the horse camp, or just sat in their camp area and read books. What really made me open up and embrace this scene was that everyone else was here for the same reason, to get away from the stresses of a full-time job, not having to interact with ornery/moody coworkers and bosses, no cell phones or computers (we are supposed to be emulating every aspect of the time period… remember?). Best of all we were hundreds of miles from our everyday work-life. Depending on the site location we were nestled in the mountains, along a river, in a state park, or around a lake.

Cooking is absolutely FUN at these events. So many people with so many recipes. I never thought cooking in a cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or other various pieces of cast iron cookware could be so interesting (depending on what you’re concocting of course!). My husband and I must have 150 pounds of cast iron cookware to include a dutch oven or two, several sized skillets, a waffle iron, and many other pieces. The cool thing is, no one is in any hurry at the rendezvous, so if you want to cook a new recipe, you have all day long to get creative, and most of us do!

Well, sixteen years later, I’m still participating in these events and have met some wonderful, interesting people along the way. Each new year I look forward to seeing my rendezvous friends and sharing music, meals, and fascinating stories of their adventures throughout the year.


write by Mitchell Sandson

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