How to Vacation in Your Kitchen

‘DELAYED’ flashed on the screen next to her flight number and she let on a groan. Now what? A 30 minute layover had just turned into a who-knows-how-long layover and this airport has exactly 3 shops. Airport math says 3 shops is only an hour and a half of entertainment at most, so she just hoped it wouldn’t be longer than that.

But it was. 4 hours later, she boarded the plane and managed to score a window seat. Not too roomy, but it came with a view. The view taking off wasn’t too exciting, but looking out over the clouds at cruising altitude – breathtaking. After her ears finally popped anyway. A bag of peanuts and two very small beverages later, the plane began its descent. Landing gear down, coming in nice and smooth, the plane hopped to a stop as the crew got ready. Finally, the doors opened and she followed the other passengers en masse to the baggage claim area.

Where she waited. And she waited. And finally found out that apparently, 4 hours wasn’t even time for her bag to switch planes. She tried to stay calm, breathed and thought to herself:

“I need a vacation from this vacation!”

We all love vacations, taking a break from the daily grind. But they’re not 100% relaxing are they? Hopefully 90%, but they can dip down to 50% relaxing quickly. The travel, the packing, the planning, the reservations…
Now I have a headache.

Fortunately, there is any easier way if you don’t feel like expending all the energy to travel to your destination of choice: bring it to you. It’s easier than you think, and costs far less. Just bring the destination to you!
No passport, no luggage, you don’t even need to be patted down – unless you have a close friend and too much wine. First step?

Choose where you want to go (or stay, as the case may be). If this is going to be a group trip, which I always recommend; get the whole group together to decide. I know; you’re afraid if you let all of them have a say then you’ll never be able to agree. Fear not, I have a solution.

Obviously, the old standbys like a coin flip or rock paper scissors are available to decide between two choices. But what if your group can’t narrow it down at all? There’s the draw straws method, names out of a hat, or just roll a die. Personally, I say just write all the ideas down and choose an order; that way you can get try them all. More food, more people, more fun, right?

Once you have a ‘destination’, let’s create some atmosphere, shall we? A quick trip to any music store will yield music from the area you chose, and if you want to simulate the flight you can get some really uncomfortable chairs as well. After the music, you’re dangerously close to starting the best part: the cooking.

Depending on how much you want to spend, I recommend decorating a little bit to spice up the ambience. Let’s say we were traveling to Spain as an example. Maybe hang some red drapes or curtains, a few pictures of bullfighting, or pictures of dancers to match the music that was chosen earlier. Or go for broke and just release some bulls in your neighborhood.

We’re finally to cooking! Clearly, every country and culture has its own flavors and ingredients. When people think of Italy, they think garlic, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, etc. What many don’t know is that within each country, the sub regions differ quite a bit as far as what ingredients they use and how their flavor profiles end up. Of course, how detailed you want to be is up to you.

Using my example of Spain, I’d use almonds, garlic, tomatoes, and onions to create a rustic dish that really brings out the area. A paella for example, or a simple Romesco sauce. Don’t panic if you don’t know the flavors of the area; just do a simple internet search for traditional dishes from that region and build a shopping list from that. Remember, the whole point of this is to keep it simple and easy.

We know where we’re ‘visiting’, we have some music, and we have some ingredients. Now for my favorite part: inviting as many people as possible, and cooking. So many people complain that they hate hosting a party because they feel like they’re in the kitchen the whole time, well… bring the party to the kitchen!

Make sure everyone has a drink in their hand, something to do in the kitchen, and someone to talk to; sitting down to eat will come all too quickly.