Prior to our visit to the Cape, we did plenty of research on cooking (the kind that is done far away from home), mostly because we were doing it for the first time. It’s one of the things you incorporate in your leisure schedule when you travel with a picky toddler who is allergic to a series of foodstuff. So before you scroll down to the tips, you should know that most of my learnings hover over the subject of cooking and eating.
The web world is filled with tips and tricks, just type “cooking on vacation” and see the websites roll in. The Kitchn, Chocolate and Zucchini, my favored DALS – they have all tackled this issue and have suggestions ranging from BYO Knives to carrying measured baking components in ziploc bags to lugging around an ice cream maker.
We kept it simple. We packed lots of freezer food (both store-bought and homemade) because we knew there will be days when no one will feel like cooking or going out or even ordering in. And we did just fine, without having to make our own ice-cream or bake a cake. Here’s what I learnt (in no particular order) –
1. Soups, sauces, cooked pasta can all be prepared ahead of time and frozen flat in ziploc bags. Then before you leave, just toss the bags in the cooler. This will ensure you have enough room for the important things like your corkscrew and can opener.
2. Pack some sea salt. Sprinkle them on halved cherry tomatoes. And everything else.
3. Mortadella can transform from mmm-good to insanely good when devoured on a beach. But when you think about it, this is a property shared by most food, especially sandwiches.
4. Kids will eat anything except for what you have especially prepared for them.
5. Do not pack your favorite coffee. Wake up early, go for a run, stop by at the local cafe and grab a brew. Better still, try something new. Chamomile Chai maybe? (This tip will backfire if you are staying at some remote corner of the world and the nearest coffee shop is a 100 miles away).
6. While it’s great to have memories digitalized and emailed and posted on to various social media sites, sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the moment. One afternoon, we left our camera in the car on purpose. Best time ever.
7. In the few occasions when you decide to eat out, do not be hasty and judge a restaurant by the number of tourist buses at the parking area. The mussels may turn out to be doused in garlic and your pork chop may taste like leather.
8. Cocktails taste infinitely better when fixed by someone other than own self.
9. Lighthouses are pretty amazing and I wouldn’t mind living in one.
10. A 23-month-old who has just discovered that seawater is salty and feels inclined to dip his fingers into the water to taste it some more, will continue to do so till you find something else to distract him with. Of course, it doesn’t end here. If a fellow parent is to be believed, next up is sand-tasting.