Move over mac 'n' cheese. Clear out Cup O' Soup. There's a new taste sensation sweeping eastward from the left coast, and backcountry cooking may never be the same. Wraps, extra-large tortilla-like breads that
you roll around delectable fillings like turkey tagine, Thai shrimp, or Szechuan veggies, could very well be the perfect backpacking food. They're a welcome alternative to one-pot meals, infinitely versatile, and since you effectively devour the "bowl," there are few dirty dishes.
Wraps, which look like overstuffed burritos, first caught on in San Francisco in the mid-1990s. Today wrap restaurants are springing up across the country with offerings like pesto chicken or mango snapper rolled in chili, tomato, or spinach-flavored wrappings. Snapper and chicken may be out of the question midway into a 25-mile hike, but that still leaves plenty of other filling and wrapper combinations. I use wraps when I want to impress fellow travelers (they rank high on the "oooh" and "ahhh" scale), and even when it's just my husband and me. They're tasty, reliable, satisfying, and don't require a lot of effort when I'm beat after hiking or canoeing all day.
Fillings can be whipped together using fresh or freeze-dried ingredients. The type of wrappers you use depends on the sophistication of your local supermarket. (Editors' note: We found tortillas flavored with pesto and garlic, jalape?o and cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and garden vegetables, as well as honey-flavored mountain bread-another good wrapper-at a supermarket in Allentown, Pennsylvania, so there's hope.) Check in the bread, dairy, deli, or specialty foods section. If all else fails, fall back on plain flour tortillas.
The following recipes sample cuisines from around the world, including traditional Tex-Mex. All, except the last one, make two cups of filling, enough for four 71/2-inch wraps. I've designed these recipes to involve minimal stove time. Once you've brought the ingredients to a boil and removed them from the heat source, wrap the pot in a sweater or T-shirt to retain heat while the ingredients rehydrate. If you're camped at high altitude or if the night is especially chilly, you might instead simmer the ingredients at very low heat for 10 minutes.