How have you managed with food shopping and cooking during lockdown? Have you resorted to churning out the same old comfort food, or have you been slightly more adventurous?
Many like the idea of emerging from lockdown with different cooking habits. Bread baking and better use of leftovers are just part of the story.
With more time on our hands, many of us have also relished the chance to spend more time cooking and try out recipes that we’ve never previously had the time or patience for.
But, inevitably, thinking what to cook night after night can still become tedious, and while restaurants are gradually re-opening in some countries, you may still feel wary about eating out.
We have several friends who have introduced a ‘travel round the world’ night, dedicating one dinner a week to food from another country – from tagine to tagliatelle and paella to poppadoms – which we think is a great idea.
While non-essential travel and holidays have been off the menu, we’ve tried to recreate some of our holiday memories through food, reliving favourite trips by cooking meals that remind us of particular places.
It’s not quite as good as the real thing, but conjuring up memories of vineyards and olive groves, vibrant markets, al fresco picnics, and mouth-watering dinners easily comes to a close second.
Our food nostalgia has taken us as far afield as Italy, the UK, and Australia, with some meals more elaborate than others. What makes them most effective is evoking as many of the five senses as possible.
For example, for us, a simple home-made pesto brings back dreamy views over the pastel-coloured buildings of Italy’s Ligurian coast, the smell of sea air, and the sound of gently lapping waves.
Unfortunately, a microwave lasagne won’t bring back memories of a holiday in Italy, nor will a takeaway Indian evoke the spice-packed fragrances of Indian street food.
Do cook from fresh, substituting ingredients if you find that some are tricky to source. Planting your own herb garden is a great way to ensure that your favourite herbs are steps away when you need them.
For most of us, holiday scents take us straight back to a happy place. Who isn’t consumed by nostalgic beach memories when presented with a platter of calamari? Or by recollections of childhood Christmases at the scent of roasted chestnuts?
As smells are known to trigger memories, cooking your meal from scratch can evoke your own holiday memories before the food even reaches the table.
Presenting the food on authentic dishes is a great way to transport you to your favourite place. Rummage in your cupboards for serving dishes and platters that reflect the location you’re replicating, making use of ceramic dishes, pottery, and colourful tea glasses.
Did you discover a favourite wine while on holiday? If so, check to see if you can buy it – or the next best equivalent – locally to enjoy with your meal.
Start your evening with the drink that reminds you most of your holiday. For us, the mere sight of an Aperol spritz with a bowl of olives is enough to bring back summertime in Italy, and a glass of chilled manzanilla with some freshly toasted almonds, or a cloudy pastis, will take us back to Spain or France in a flash. The perfect prelude to any evening!
While you sip your aperitivo or round off your meal with a coffee or sweet dessert wine, make those memories even more vivid by flicking through your holiday photos on your iPad.
We love using this time to look back over photos of our own holidays and of our group walking trips, re-living memorable hikes, and remembering people we’ve met along the way.
Have you been more adventurous with your cooking during lockdown? Let us know of any dishes that remind you of past holidays! Are you thinking ahead to holidays in 2021? Please join the conversation in the comments section below!