I have lots of happy memories of meals we’ve cooked at Airbnbs. You’re tired out from some long trip, landed in some foreign country, and no one is having the fun that they are supposed to be having, the fun we planned to have when we booked this vacation. You head out in the rain to the tiny store that you spotted on the corner, hoping that they’re open and will have something the kids will eat. Inside, they have all sorts of new and exciting local food but you opt for the things that you’re familiar with, the essentials: flour, milk, butter and eggs.
Back at the flat, everything’s chaos: the kids running and yelling, you can’t find the diapers, the wifi doesn’t work. But you set up in the kitchen, and things start to calm down again. You find the big bowls, the pan, the spatula. You’re cooking pancakes and everything is going to be fine. It’s fun to cook anyways but on the road it always gives me a feeling of coziness and control.
I’m trying to put together a pdf of recipes for those situations. I want it to be massively simple, basic, and minimalistic, just the core ingredients that make up that dish. So no chopped pepper in the hummus or coconut milk in the vegetable broth even if those are nice touches. And, for the cooking instructions, I don’t want to be overly specific about how you sautée onions or how many teaspoons of salt to add. I just say “Add salt” and then I’ll trust people to stop when it gets too salty.
As for the choice of dishes, what are the essentials anyways? I’ve spent most of my life in North America and Europe and that’s reflected in the dishes I’ve chosen. There are recipes for bread, vegetable broth, pancakes, and rice and beans.
However, this is for my project where I’m trying to create pdfs that will be useful when you’re traveling. In theory, I’d like the dishes to be wonderfully international. I was hoping that, even if you’re far off the beaten trail in Siberia or in Thailand, my pdf would still have a recipe that you can cook up from your corner shop. I think that’s not really possible to do in any satisfying way, so I’m not really trying. I have a few recipes that I consider to be non-American / European staples, like miso soup and hummus, but I don’t try to cover the whole world in any kind of methodical way.
I also really want to include different options depending on the kitchen equipment you have available. That is, sometimes you’re in an Airbnb with a full kitchen, but often you’re in a hotel that just us that little microwave or kettle. So I want to include something warm that you can cook with a microwave (like baked potato) or a kettle (boiled egg).
As you can see, some of these things you won’t consider to be “recipes” if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen: boiled eggs, vegetable broth, baked potato. I’m aiming at people who don’t have too much cooking experience. I won’t explain how to boil rice or toast bread but the level just above that.
The recipes are mostly vegetarian, even vegan. That’s partly because I myself don’t eat a lot of meat these days and because meat eaters can eat vegetarian but vegetarians can’t eat meat. But it’s also because I think that it is more useful like this. If you have time to cook meat, you probably have time to look up a real recipe on the internet. My recipes are just for the Airbnb situation – when you’re a little bit desperate but I guess not so desperate that you’re on baloney and Oreos.