Food eaten outdoors always tastes better. A bland soda cracker, for example, takes on a whole new meaning when eaten on the porch instead of in front of the television.

That's why camping is so enjoyable. I have no use for the 2,000-mile hikes and the joy of sleeping on a flat air mattress, but mealtime, under the shadow of pines, with the smell of campfire and the sound of a breeze sifting through high branches, blended with all the smells of food that can come from a campfire - or even a propane burner - is an experience city people need to have from time to time to rejuvenate the spirit.Utah's canyons have always been a retreat for its citizens. In the 1880s and early 1900s, summertime often brought a mass exodus into the canyons. Many people would go into the mountains for weeks at a time, often to watch over cattle or sheep on the summer range. As often as not, though, it was the attraction of the summer breezes that drew them to the mountains - an escape from the dry air of July and August. The smell and taste of food outside didn't hurt much either.

Waking up in the morning in a tent, with the smell of frying bacon tempting your nostrils, is a wonderful feeling. You can hear somebody outside breaking up firewood and banging pans around. Hotcakes, a little more browned sometimes than at home, still taste better on a paper plate or an oval and odd-handled Army surplus mess kit.

Lunch out of doors doesn't trigger cooking smells so much, but even packed lunches in baggies or (in the old days) wrapped in wax paper, can taste like heaven after an exhausting morning of hiking, when perched on a mountain ridge with a view of valleys on all sides. That's when tuna fish and baloney earn their glory. And potato chips - the hackneyed, over-eaten nothing of the modern world - always taste special when eaten on a granite boulder while overlooking the calm waters of a secluded lake or reservoir.

But the climactic event of outdoor eating comes in the evening, with the sound of floured trout frying in a frying pan, or a steak, or pork chops, or hamburgers - and fried potatoes. And watermelon. And corn on the cob uncouthly rolled on a new cube of butter or margarine. And good company. And stories around the fire about past experiences that seem really funny to everyone present, but wouldn't make sense to a stranger listening in.

The closing act often features little kids with watermelon-dirty faces dropping off to sleep in their dad's or mom's or grandma's arms in the light of the fire with the smell of pine smoke permeating their clothes and hair, and full stomachs - and minds stuffed to the brim with newly savored memories.