Travel Safely and Carry a Big Knife

items in the author's travel kit. credit: Theresa Carle-Sanders

Your spice kit is packed and you’re ready to go. But if you plan to cook while on holiday, there are some extra essentials you’ll need to take along — and when deciding on what to include in your travelling kitchen, it’s all about where you’re going and how you’re getting there.

When you’re camping, and I mean hiking everything in (and back out) packed on your back, after you’ve packed a stove, an old pot, a mug, a set of utensils and, most importantly, the food, you don’t have much room left. I always bring along a paring knife to keep my ubiquitous (and very dirty) Swiss Army knife away from the food, and a tea ball, which may sound like a strange choice, but is actually a real multi-tasker in the travelling kitchen. Use it to hold a bouquet garnii of whole spices and add extra flavour to a package of freeze-dried soup while it heats. Strain the soaking water from a handful of dried morels through it and into the pasta pot – you’ll up the umami in your fireside spaghetti con funghi and avoid the sandy grit that comes with most dried mushrooms. Of course, you could just make a cup of tea using some of that wild mint you found on the side of the trail, but you should also know that your tea ball makes a great cup of camp coffee when it’s filled with a coarse grind and immersed in boiling water for a few minutes.

If you’re car camping, exploring the open road in an RV, cruising the oceans in a boat, or even flying across the globe, then you may have room for extra accessories to increase the creative capability of your vacation kitchen. Add a chef’s and a serrated knife, a spatula, roll-up cutting board, wooden or silicon spoon, veggie peeler, rasp, small strainer, pair of tongs, and a small vegetable brush. I also include two small food-grade silicone cups that pack flat and work as measuring cups, leftover containers, and drinking/eating/mixing bowls. If you’ll have access to an oven, and you like the idea of a fresh batch of homemade scones (for example), take a pastry brush, dough scraper, measuring spoons and a folded sheet of parchment.

Finally, I always have a black felt, instant-read thermometer, matches, half a dozen wooden skewers, and some kitchen twine tucked into my knife kit, along with lots of bandages. Where there are knives, there should always be at least a rudimentary first-aid kit. I realize that all of this may sound like it takes up a lot of room and makes for a lot of work (on what is supposed to be your vacation after all!) But I packed my knife kit, full of everything above, plus a fair selection of spices, into my suitcase for a recent three-week trip to the UK and all I had to leave behind was an extra pair of shoes I probably wouldn’t have worn anyway.

And while cooking at home can sometimes feel like a real chore, cooking while on holiday should never be hard work. Instead, it can be an adventure outside your kitchen comfort zone, a treasure hunt for unusual ingredients and an exploration of unfamiliar techniques. It’s also the best way to immerse yourself in a new culture or country and to create lasting memories with those on the same journey.

Safe travels.

by Theresa Carle-Sanders

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