Holiday food is a heady love affair that craves to be recreated.
A massive part of going on holiday is, apart from all the wandering, the food. Having a gander at how the locals eat can bring out my jealous side and the inclination for mental destruction of a boarding pass.
I imbibe the heady food haze when holidaying until I need to register myself as excess baggage for the trip home, because I know more than anything that it’ll be the last time I’ll eat that well for a while.
Holiday food always tastes amazing, even when it doesn’t. Besides the fact that the quality of plates can vary so intensely, there’s a whole atmosphere to compete with. You’re not just tasting the food on your plate and feeling the light fizz on your tongue of that dry white wine, you’re drinking in the drunken chatter of the restaurant; the balmy evening air; the sun on your shoulders; conversations over street maps; the ache of your feet. All of this makes your meal, even if it doesn’t taste that spectacular. Some of the best holiday food I’ve had has been but a baguette and a beer in the middle of street in the aftermath of a sightseeing session and a hunger pang as deep as a sinkhole. Recreating that at home though, it was just a baguette and a beer.
A week in Greece has left me frustrated. Souvlaki three times a day is nothing short of genius. That, and a can of beer for a euro and I’m in heaven. The salad, the building blocks of feta, the complimentary salty nibbles, tzatziki coming out of my ears, bilingual banter, oregano chips – it’s painful to write down when I remember the supreme, simple tastiness. But when I got home to my kitchen – special Greek spices, skewers and meat in tow – the end result was a mere whimper of my former diet.
There’s always that bubble of excitement when I pretend to know what I’m doing as I season things with apparent flare and drizzle stuff with my fresh island olive oil – the remnant glow of my tan working as my holiday garnish. I’m almost believing that this time around, I’ve done it, I’ve recreated a holiday favourite. It won’t matter that I’m not dining al fresco looking out on fishing boats and a sunset. No, this will be perfect eaten on my knee in front of Bake Off.
Is it really possible to make holiday food at home? Besides the tourist board figuring out how to bottle atmosphere and enjoyment, for the moment, it remains just as all good holiday romances should – unrepeatable.