This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.
Chika Yoshizaki is the Japanese writer, photographer, and translator behind the blog She who eats, where her luminous photography allows us a glimpse into the kind of foods she cooks and eats in Tokyo, and wherever her frequent travels take her.
Here she tells us about traveling with a bottle of soy sauce, listening to rice as it cooks on an open fire, and drinking dry French cider with her aunt.
Did you take a vacation this summer, and did you have a chance to cook while there?
I went on a two-week trip to Europe from June to July, but I didn’t cook there — unless you count throwing a bunch of fresh berries into a tub of plain yogurt in my small hotel room as “cooking” (guess not). Other than that, I don’t have a plan to go on a vacation this summer. Although, being holed up deep in the countryside in the mountainous prefecture of Nagano where I am spending the whole summer in a small family cottage, I suppose you could argue I am indeed on vacation. Sort of. And I have been cooking/baking a lot here, taking advantage of an abundant selection of fresh local produce that Nagano’s nature offers.
In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?
I don’t think my cooking style would be very different whether I am cooking at home or elsewhere on vacation. It’s mostly about seasonal ingredients simply cooked, with occasional experimenting with ingredients that are new to me and/or cooking methods that may be more complicated than what I’d normally do. But I do tend to be (even) more local ingredient-driven when I’m cooking away from home; I like to try what locals eat, or cook with something I wouldn’t find back home.
Are there utensils or ingredients you always take with you when you go on vacation? If so, what are they? If not, what do you unfailingly regret not taking?
I think it would depend. For a camping trip, we’d naturally take quite a lot of stuff with us because we wouldn’t find pots or pans for us to use at a remote campsite. Otherwise, I don’t normally bring anything from home, whether I am staying at family’s or friend’s place or an apartment hotel; they’d often have more than just the basics, and I can usually whip up something with whatever I find on the spot.
That said, I must say good salt and pepper do help a lot when you are preparing something simple (which is often the case with cooking on vacation); a few sprinkles of good flaky sea salt or generous grinds of black pepper are things I’d miss when all I can find is table salt and pre-ground pepper.
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