Food N' The Hood

For those about to set out on long journeys in hot cars, reclaim that squandered travel time by cooking a full meal under your hood

Drawing from a variety of sources -- including Manifold Destiny, the rare and authoritative cookbook for all things engine-edible -- we've compiled some tips on making your automobile a wok on wheels:

  • The engine works just like an oven, so be sure to pre-heat by letting it run before you throw in the food.

  • Tightly wrapped foil seals in liquids, creating the steam necessary for successful car cooking. Choosing steamable food like shrimp, chicken, hot dogs, or fish are your best chances at cuisine that won't taste like foot.

  • Spills are inevitable if the food isn't secured. Either tie it down with wire, or keep it pressed between the hood and the engine with a wad of foil. The less food juice that leaks out, the less your whip will smell like your high school cafeteria's dumpster.

  • Big cars with bigger engines are best. Because newer cars have less space under the hood, you won't always be able to cook on the manifold, but any hot part of the engine will do. Even so, your Ford Aspire may not be ideal for a rack of ribs.

  • How fast you go doesn't matter, just the length of time the engine's running. The food will still cook even if you're stuck in a traffic jam -- or just idling in your ex-girlfriend's driveway trying to win her back with a zesty Mango Chutney Shrimp a la Camry.
  • The most important rule of car cooking is to be sensible -- if you blow up your car attempting to slow roast a pig on your road trip to Tijuana, don't come crying to us.

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