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Notes From A Traveling Cook

About the Author

Axel Brave

Founder, AXEL Provisions

axel@axelprovisions.com

18 September 2018

Traveling and cooking has and always will be a very important part of my life.

Both spark excitement and creativity, while broadening my perspective on how we communicate not only with the world and those around us, but with ourselves. Both show me new parts of the world, making me vulnerable and adaptable.

 

When vacationers and travelers take off, they plan on spending money on going out to eat. Either they don’t want to lift a finger so they can relax on the beach somewhere, or they’re so busy working that they need quick bites. Whatever the case is, eating must be involved so they can continue relaxing, adventuring or working. I think I can speak for most of us when saying that we’ve been on a vacation or business trip and we don’t want to spend energy on whipping up a delicious, wholesome meal.

 

However, I’ve always thought that cooking while on a trip really allows me to open up to the situations around me. Hotels make it so easy to just order room service.

$36 plus a tip for a damn garden salad and croissant-good one.

More annoying are the rental homes we book. Going on vacation with family or friends and getting to a home that has absolutely no decent cooking equipment can be heartache for me. I guess I understand that no homeowner wants to let untrained vacationers use their chef knife, wooden cutting boards, or delicate pans. I know I wouldn’t.

 

Shaking off the avoidance of cooking while traveling can be quite eventful in many ways and most definitely memorable.

I was recently on the pacific side of Mexico with a group of friends, being flâneurs who puttered around and cooked for ten days.

Flâneur - an idler or lounger.

My friends and I spoke about this exact topic as we practiced our ingenuity by flipping an 18” Tortilla de Papa without a big enough cutting-board or platter. A clear example of how to get creative and vulnerable.

(We ended up using the bottom part of a big boiling pot, successfully flipping it. To bad we didn’t cook the potatoes long enough)

 

Later in the trip, two friends of mine and their dog joined us in their van as they worked their way from Texas to Brasil (you can follow them @ExpeditionKindness). When they showed us their van, I was curious to see how they managed to cook on the road. They opened their trunk doors, whipping out a sliding propane-stove from under their bed area that was held up by a wood stilt, and a fold down counter top that was attached to their back door.

Small, convenient and useful I thought. One of them said to me, “it’s awesome because there isn’t room for anyone to get in your way while you cook.” I found that particular funny and tipping-point for writing this journal entry. I’m just not a fan of having many people running around the kitchen “trying to help,” but this feeling disappears while I’m cooking on the road.

 

The need to adapt to our kitchen space and equipment is a quick reminder of how fortunate we can be to have a well-equipped kitchen back at home. The need to be clever and creative is a must. Being aboard in an unknown kitchen means that a cook might have to also become an engineer. Something as simple as tacos and guacamole can call for new methods of creation.

Two $14 Tomahawk Rib-eye Steaks cooked on make-shift grill
Pre-mashed Fresh Guacamole, used two forks to mash
Dinner for Veg Heads using local ingredients

Being away from home also means you might not have certain access to specific ingredients. This calls for adaptability. I know that while I’m traveling, I try to make different versions of Chimichurri with local ingredients.

Moroccan Chimichurri with local ingredients
Portugese Chimichurri with local ingredients

My point is cooking while traveling can be quite fun, inviting and memorable. No matter how weird the kitchen is or how much time you have.

 

I’ve cooked big meals for entire hostels, cooked with Greek grandmothers in Airbnbs on islands off the coast of Croatia, invited Sicilian women to cook the best Italian meals in month-long rental homes, and have grilled open-flame meats in the Southern parts of Argentina with my family. Each of these moments, I will never forget.

I’ve closed some business deals by cooking for a company and it’s top executives, showed people what my brand’s vision really is, and demonstrated that simple foods can make people happy.

I’ve made friends, fans and partners because of this. And I don’t think I will ever stop.

You could argue that I’m particularly in my zone when I’m around food, but I think it’s the act of breaking bread with those around you that create the warm feeling of coming together-not myself in particular.

Next time you’re on the road, carve out some time whether it be a business trip or a vacation. Cook a meal with those around you, invite people over and make some magic in the kitchen.

If it comes out bad or good, I promise it will be something you’ll never forget.

About the Author

Axel Brave

Founder, AXEL Provisions

axel@axelprovisions.com

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