Spice up your travels around the world!
For a long time I’ve been advocating that you can save money and, frankly, eat better if you cook some of your own meals when you travel. How many soggy sandwiches, stale pizzas, and greasy, thin burgers can you really stand? I’m putting together a 5 part series of top 5 lists relating to travel and food- both cooking and eating. First up: glorious, exciting condiments!
I like to travel with some basic condiments and I’m thinking of making this a must-pack item for every trip. Spices and herb mixes can really save the day when you are on a budget or travelling where there is a lot of bland food. You can get camping sets, but I find it easiest to assemble my own using little plastic vials, so I can customize to my own preferences. Besides, commercial mixes are very high in sodium and much more expensive. I like to use:
1.) A cinnamon mix, with tiny pinches of nutmeg, and even tinier pinches of ginger and clove.
Perfect for perking up cheap hot chocolate and coffee, sprinkling on instant oatmeal and baked apples, or giving depth to french toast, pancakes, rice pudding, custard, melted brie, muffin or cookie mix. Add a wee bit to carrot or squash dishes too! Perfect aromatherapy for a musty room – set a pan of water on the stove to simmer with the spices and orange rinds.
2.) Italian herb mix: large portions of dried basil and oregano, with smaller amounts of rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sage.
This is a great, multipurpose mix. Turns tomatoes into spaghetti sauce or bruschetta. Coat cheap chicken cutlets with butter and herb mix and watch them transform when cooked over a campfire. Add to instant mashed potatoes or soup, sprinkle inside a grilled cheese or on top of cheap pizza, or mix with sour cream for a veggie dip. Usually, anything you have with Italian herb mix goes really well with #3…
3.) Garlic and onion mix:
While you can use powdered garlic and onion salt, I recommend the flakes, as the granulated bits tend to clump together when exposed to moisture or heat. Add a pinch of lemon pepper to your mix. Mix with crushed potato chips or crackers or cornflakes to make a great crust for fish. Mix with butter and a pinch of herb mix to make garlic bread or cheesy toast. It can spice up instant mac & cheese, turn ground meat into authentic meatballs, or turn plain yogurt into tzatziki.
4) Hot spice and/or curry mix
Depending on your personal taste or where you will be travelling, I suggest you bring along a high quality curry powder blend, a spicy powder mix like harissa, or simple chili pepper flakes. It can be a life saver when you eat your thousandth bowl of rice or nsima, it makes chicken soup into something really special, and it turns a hodgepodge of random ingredients into an amazing savory stew.
5.) Something that reminds you of home
How about a ginger, cumin, garam masala mix? Or peppery, tangy Cajun spice rub? Or maybe a turkey rub that reminds you of Thanksgiving dinner when you add it into your mashed potatoes. I think a taco mix would be great for me – terrific for tacos, burritos, nachos, or dips. Adding a dash of comfort when you are a million miles from home can be worth it’s weight in gold.
What about the basics? Salt, Pepper, etc?
I never take along salt, pepper, or sugar – these are easy to find at fast food restaurants and cafe packages and are usually stocked in hostels, guesthouses, and home rentals. You might, however, might want to have a few mini salt packs in your first aid kit for making saline rinse or re-hydration mix.
Enjoy the whole series!
Part 2: Five Snacks That Are Always In My Pack.
Part 3: Five Easy To Make Travel Nibbles.
Part 4: Five Easy, Delectable Travel Meals.
Part 5: Five Tips to Survive Travel Kitchens.