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How is slow travel and cooking on the road related you ask?
Slow travel is actually an offshoot of the “Slow Food Movement” . The concept was founded by Folco Portinari in 1989 when he protested a fast food restaurant in Rome with bowls of Pasta, instead of picket signs.
Portinari maintained that fast food would not only change how we produce food but more importantly how we enjoy our food.
When you think of fast food you think of highly processed ingredients thrown together quickly, then picked up in a drive-thru as you’re rushing off to work.
Slow Food is the exact opposite. It is freshly made, cooked to order, and savored at a table with family and friends.
Today the slow food movement is not just about slowing down, socializing and enjoying our food. It has evolved into eating healthy delicious meals while immersing ourselves in the local culture.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE SLOW TRAVELER?
As slow travelers, we are always looking for ways to enrich our journey. What better way than to cook our own meals with locally sourced food.
Not to mention it’s healthier and saves so much money. Your grocery bill for a week is probably equivalent to a couple of days of restaurant food!!
Tips, Tricks, and Gear
We have learned so much in the last 3 years traveling around Europe and cooking our own food. Here are some of the most important tips and tricks we have learned along the way.
TIP #1- Ask kitchen questions!
Always ask if the kitchen has adequate cooking supplies before you book. What you think is enough pots and pans vs. what the host thinks is enough pots and pans, can be two very different concepts.
We usually send an email to the host confirming there is a working stove, oven, microwave, pots, pans, utensils, etc., before booking.
We have stayed in places that had a kitchen but not much to cook with!
TIP #2- Plan your supermarket strategy ahead of time
As slow travelers, many of us stay in smaller towns, maybe even remote places–which means a food market could be really far away. So we make sure to check what’s around us and how accessible it is.
We once stayed in a place over a supermarket–boy was that the perfect scenario!
TIP #3- Go to an outdoor market for food and culture
Slow traveling is about experiences. One of the best experiences we’ve had was browsing the colorful Central Market in an old zeppelin hangar in Riga, Latvia.
What better way to immerse yourself in the local culture than to ‘shop where the people shop’. Not only is it the best people watching experience, it also gives you a chance to experiment with the foods and spices of the area.
TIP #4- Don’t forget the local supermarkets
If you can’t get to an outdoor market, then the local supermarket is also a good source for local foods.
When we were in Florence we stayed right next to a little local food market. We found some of the freshest pasta and focaccia bread around!
Tip #5- Buy cheap containers or bring your own
Cooking your own food is great, but storing the food is not something you usually think about. So before you start cooking, get yourself some containers.
You can either find a dollar store or do what we do and bring them from home. For some reason, containers in Europe are too small for us so we started bringing our own.
At the end of the trip, we toss them out or leave them at the Airbnb.
Tip #6- Bring a collapsible cooler
They are invaluable and don’t weigh much or take up much space in your luggage.
We use them for:
- Road tripping since we always pack a lunch so we can find a beautiful spot to eat
- Moving to a new Airbnb it’s a great way to transport cold stuff
- Concerts and Outdoor Events to pack adult ‘beverages’ and lunch for the day
Tip #7- Make your own seasoning packets
No matter how adventurous you are, there are still times you want the familiar stuff–like taco seasoning (okay, that’s probably just us) and finding it can be impossible.
Now, I use the heat sealer in our Amazon Store (link below) with the little poly bags. I fill them up with things like taco seasonings and other spices then pop them in the suitcase. Has been my best ‘hack’ to date!
TIP #8- Be respectful of locals and their customs in food markets
As I have said before–a big part of slow traveling is blending in with the community, even in a trivial place like a supermarket.
I remember our first food shopping experience in France, we waited for someone to bag our groceries which of course never happened. I am sure they thought we were either very lazy or super snobby.
Now when we go to a new place, we look around, observe what everyone else is doing and try to do the same.
TIP #9- Prep and cook ahead!
I know this last tip isn’t for everyone but it really does make life easier and is a huge timesaver in the end. The last thing you want to do when touring all day is to go back home and cook.
If you take a few hours at the beginning of the trip to prep and cook, it’s just a quick heat and/or assemble when you get home. I guarantee you will be thanking me in the end.
There are a few caveats though:
- You need to like leftovers
- You need to set aside a half a day to prep and cook
- You need to be okay with eating some of the same meals over and over again
TIP #10- Vegetarian/Vegan Easy Meals
Here’s an example of what we cook when we are slow traveling. We are vegan but sometimes we will cave in and have cheese. We also usually cook for an entire week.
Keep in mind this is very basic and simple fare. We are not foodies, so it is not hugely important nor do we mind leftovers and repeating food.
- Vegetables (we prep a huge amount of veggies)
- Lentil Chili
- Potato Tacos
- Vegetable soup
- Sweet Potato Soup
- Grains like Quinoa, Rice, etc.
- Pastas (all kinds)
- Grilled eggplant sandwiches
- Lentil Soup
- Baked Potatoes
- Bowls (veggies, grain, beans)
- Beans (all kinds)
- Grilled Veggies
Okay…that’s the end of the line folks. I hope we have encouraged you to cook your own food when traveling, whether you are slow traveling or not. It really is better for you and the planet!
Happy Trails 👣!
(Check out our Sarjeant’s On Fire Amazon Store for a list of our favorite slow travel cooking gadgets!)