Bring Tupperware, and 19 other rules about cooking on holiday
If you assume the worst with holiday food, you’ll always be pleasantly surprised. Just bring your own tea. And maybe a roasting dish. Look, you can always eat out...
Even if you are not planning to use the restaurants, towns with good places to eat tend to sell good ingredients, so stay there
Here follows a series of lessons learned about eating, drinking and cooking on holiday.
1 You can eat well and sleep well, or you can go camping. Don’t believe anyone who says you can do both.
2 Organised religion may be on the retreat in Ireland, but is alive and well across the continent. Always prepare for the possibility that you will not be able to buy anything on Sunday.
3 If you are travelling abroad, bring tea with you. If you are travelling to France, bring milk, too.
4 Casanova used to pack fresh loaves of bread, butter and cold meats so that he could breakfast in the style to which he had become accustomed, regardless of where and with whom he woke up. Do the same by always bringing a tin opener and a corkscrew with you on holiday.
5 The works of the great cookery writer Elizabeth David are available in travel-friendly paperback size. Invest in some.
6 When you arrive: before you do anything, have a thorough rummage in the kitchen you are renting, for two reasons: the first is to draw broad and unfair judgements about the owner; the second is so you know what you can and cannot cook.
7 If the kitchen you’re staying in has a working hob, a saucepan and a colander, you’ll basically be OK.
8 On the subject of hobs: induction hobs are better than gas ones, as there is less to go wrong, and you have to work a lot harder to lose an eyebrow.
All induction hobs should be treated as if they are on at the highest possible setting until proven otherwise. All gas hobs will, of course, keep you awake half the night as you sniff the air, convinced you have left one of them on.
9 In the absence of a roasting dish, you can achieve the same effect by wrapping meat or fish in tinfoil or baking paper ... Close to the same effect. Closeish. Look – if you care that much, pack your own roasting tray.
10 Measuring scales that are not your own should be treated with suspicion.
11 Always assume that any spices you want to buy will be unavailable wherever you are staying.
12 If you are buying ingredients in a language other than your own, taste them before you begin cooking. You may think you have successfully bought carrots. It may look as if you have bought carrots...
13 No kitchen ever has enough Tupperware containers.
14 Holiday lets are a good test of whether or not you need to buy a new gadget. If it can be found in the house you are renting, assume that the landlords have found it useless, and that is why it is available to their hapless guests.
15 Experimentation is for a lazy weekend at home. No one wants to be a guinea pig on holiday.
16 Dishwashers make everything better. If you do not have a dishwasher, and you are travelling in a party with more than two adults and the children are not old enough to serve as galley slaves, agree a fixed rota on the first evening.
17 Remember, you can always eat out. When choosing where to eat out, remember that democracy makes everyone unhappy eventually. Impose a restaurant and a time on the rest of the party, and they’ll thank you. One day.
Even if you are not planning to use the restaurants, towns with good places to eat tend to sell good ingredients, so stay there.
18 Never trust a holiday destination where all the hotels are run by the same company. We may be wronging the good village of Clovelly, in Devon, but when we visited, all the hotels and eateries were owned by the same family, and we found them, without exception, awful. The food lacked flavour and even now, we suspect they are still preparing our “early breakfast” before our walk to Westward Ho! (On the subject of Westward Ho! – never pick a holiday destination because it has an exclamation mark in it.)
19 Don’t learn to drive, as it only leads to unnecessary trips to procure unnecessary ingredients and unwanted sobriety. Marry someone who can instead.
20 Never trust any of the following: tour guides with fezzes; gas hobs; or TripAdvisor restaurant reviews, or people who write lists.
– Guardian Service