Do You Cook Differently While Traveling or on Vacation?

Are you traveling somewhere new and interesting this summer? When you travel to a vacation cabin or to visit relatives, does your cooking style change at all? How do you cook differently? Here's how I noticed my cooking changing a little bit on my last trip.

Last week I told you a little bit about my trip to Montana (and the most important kitchen tool to pack for a vacation rental). This week I'm headed off again, this time to France, to accompany my husband on a business trip, and since I'm going to be cooking away from home for much of June, I'm thinking about how travel can shake up regular cooking routines.

While at the cabin in Montana, the biggest change I noticed is that while at home I might have run out to get an ingredient I was missing, there I decided to make do with whatever I had and use everything up to its last crumb. This led, for instance, to risotto cakes rolled in crushed tortilla chips, instead of bread crumbs (a delicious discovery, by the way), and the tiniest batch of jalapeño poppers to use up peppers and feta cheese. We went shopping just once for the whole week and didn't eat out at all, and it was so satisfying to take one round of groceries and spin it into a week of satisfying meals with no waste.

Making do with what you have is an obvious strategy of frugality, of course, and it's not as if I never do it at home. But I don't feel the same pressure at home to use everything up, every last crumb — my pantry is big, and there isn't a vacation clock ticking down over my head. But eating and cooking that way on vacation made me look at my pantry in a new way; what am I letting go to waste? Why not cook with that same economy at home?

I find that I pay closer attention to what I'm buying and cooking while on vacation, especially when traveling in a new or strange place. France is its own challenge; even though I've been there frequently I still don't speak French, and navigating and exploring the markets leads to creative, sometimes surprising cooking!

What about you? Are you traveling or spending time away from home in a different kitchen this summer? Do you find yourself cooking any differently?

(Image credits: Sara Kate Gillingham)

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