New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Chewing over

CuisineFiend's edible news.

Summer gluttony: does food always taste better when we're on holidays?

Wed, 5 July, 2017

Holidays can be many things but often they are a food fest. Or, even more often – an eat fest. A lets-try-this-and-this-and-that-we’re-on-hols-after-all. A pig-out.

Sometimes it’s about trying local specialties – not infrequently in places which are as far removed from the ‘local’ scene as a Tex-Mex diner in a Chinese village. You go to Costa Brava and demand paella – why, you’re in Spain after all!


And then complain that it’s soupy and where’s the chorizo? Well, the explanation might be that what you’ve had wasn’t paella because that’s from Valencia; this was arròs a la cassola, an admittedly soupy casserole as the Catalan name suggests. But do people bother to think that entirely different things might be local to Catalonia and Andalusia? Not at all: it’s Spain. They should serve paella.

What we eat on holiday is sublime often enough: we have the fattest, juiciest olives with ripe salty feta in Crete, accompanied by the simplest tomato and fig salad and it truly tastes like ambrosia – even washed down with retsina, which does not. Back home we long to recreate the experience and the only thing that might and will be as good or better is the wine. The half-ripe tomatoes grown in the greenhouses of Isle of Wight, supermarket feta and ‘salad bar’ olives straight from the fridge will not make a sentimental taste bud journey. Plus the undisputed fact is that things back on holiday tasted so wonderful because a/ they were local and b/ we were relaxed to enjoy them.

A post shared by Cuisine Fiend (@cuisine_fiend) on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:47am PDT

But I might sound scathing about holiday culinary experiences while the truth is entirely the opposite: my best recipe titbits have been hauled back with a sack of dirty shorts and tops in a suitcase, figuratively speaking of course. A long ago jaunt over Italy taught me never to eat cured ham that has not been brought to room temperature; to never, in fact, eat anything cold from the fridge apart from ice cream. Also there I learnt what burrata and scamorza were and how mozzarella was not the rubbery vacuum packed, or God forbid grated, stuff. That’s all basics, but a raw porcini salad in Florence was more of an epiphany which I’d readily reproduce back home if it were at all possible to get hold of fresh ceps in the UK.

Elsewhere, Austrians reminded me of my grandmother’s coffee of choice, the Viennese Einspänner.

And that poppy seeds are not only used for sprinkling over bread loaves.

And France – where should I start? More first tasting of things than recipe ideas, admittedly, from oysters and fois gras to cassoulets and gâteau Breton which I tasted, not even in Brittany, and adored so much I went to replicate it straight away.

But it isn't right to pig out on hols (there's stating the obvious, if there ever was). It's good to sample new things but to treat holiday as an excuse to gain three pounds in a week won’t leave you with nice memories of that week. It seems fine at the time: another glass of wine, we’re on holidays after all. The best Italian ice cream in town, we must try it. The three course meals every other night, as opposed to once a fortnight when at home. And the worst of all – all-inclusive. Whoever invented it should rot in hell. I know there are people who always go for it and remain skinny – good genes or inhuman restraint, that’s all I can say. I’ve been once and the price tag removed from individual dishes, the ‘all-you-can-eat’ concept, the fact that the ‘all’ was actually very well cooked and appealing… The less said about the outcome of that particular holiday, the better.

To end on a positive (and slightly preachy) note: one of my best ever holidays was thus because I was Really Very Good in the eating, drinking (in moderation) and being active (massively) departments. It just made me feel so good about myself – not least when I got back home to find I’d actually lost some weight. Miracles happen, just help them a little.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Recent blog posts

Wed, 30 December, 2020 2021: Have a Better New Year

Mon, 14 December, 2020 Merry Christmas!

Fri, 31 July, 2020 Fiend on Film

Thu, 4 June, 2020 The 'new normal': no dinner parties or eating out?

Wed, 25 March, 2020 We need to cook now

Wed, 12 February, 2020 My ketogenic challenge diary

Sun, 29 December, 2019 Happy New Year!

Sat, 14 December, 2019 Cuisine Fiend's Christmas Collection

Sun, 13 October, 2019 Cook yourself happier

Fri, 13 September, 2019 Eating out: rubbish, expensive or both.

Thu, 8 August, 2019 To buy or to make?

Sat, 6 July, 2019 It's not French cuisine - it's French produce that's incredible.

Thu, 6 June, 2019 What's for breakfast?

Tue, 23 April, 2019 How much of your supermarket trolley content ends up in the bin?

Fri, 5 April, 2019 You can't be a scrooge at Easter: it's spring! it's hope! it's chocolate eggs!

Tue, 5 March, 2019 Dietary myths and delusions – the human race has always loved them.

Sun, 3 February, 2019 World cuisines are diverse - or are they?

Mon, 31 December, 2018 Eat well, be well, live well.

Thu, 5 December, 2019 Cuisine Fiend's Christmas Collection

Sun, 4 November, 2018 We are so angry all the time - why not just chill? Cook something?

Thu, 4 October, 2018 Food comes from all over the world – but why so illogically sourced?

Mon, 3 September, 2018 There's no such thing as healthy foods: it's all in the balance.

Thu, 2 August, 2018 Diets – I do it my way.

Mon, 2 July, 2018 Cooking at home - why is it such a chore for so many?

Sun, 27 May, 2018 The number of obese people is terrifying - and that's just Home Counties.

Tue, 24 April, 2018 Food fads, or the impossible things to eat: our unhealthy health obsessions.

Mon, 26 March, 2018 Kitchen disasters, or how I blowtorched the turkey.

Mon, 12 March, 2018 They know a thing or two about food in Shropshire.

Wed, 17 January, 2018 Deadly avocados, flying knives and golfer's elbow: kitchen is a dangerous place.

Tue, 19 December, 2017 Diets on hold: time for twinkling lights and brandy butter.

Fri, 24 November, 2017 Eating nose-to-tail - make mine a steak.

Thu, 2 November, 2017 Eat yourself to sleep - or not, actually.

Fri, 15 September, 2017 Everything in moderation - damn hard to achieve where food is concerned.

Sun, 13 August, 2017 Food on screen: they never eat properly on TV.

Wed, 5 July, 2017 Summer gluttony: does food always taste better when we're on holidays?

Thu, 18 May, 2017 Taste, likes and dislikes - unique to first world?

Wed, 19 April, 2017 Spring is here and so is spring food.

Mon, 3 April, 2017 Signature dish? I want to cook everything well!

Fri, 3 March, 2017 British strawberries in March? I think I'll wait till May.

Fri, 17 February, 2017 Making birthday cakes is fun, unless it all goes terribly wrong.

Fri, 3 February, 2017 Munching, grazing - why do we stuff our faces while watching telly?

Fri, 27 January, 2017 Winter warmers: what's the best comfort food when the weather's cold?

Fri, 20 January, 2017 Sugar is the public enemy now. But should we go cold turkey?

Fri, 6 January, 2017 What's really good and bad for us, nutrition-wise?

Sat, 29 December, 2018 Post-Christmas, or how to lose weight on leftovers.

Thu, 15 December, 2016 Post-truth, let's put up more twinkling Christmas lights!

Fri, 9 December, 2016 A cook's block, or how induction is a toy hob.

Fri, 2 December, 2016 Fasting is good, every now and then. It makes us appreciate taste and flavours.

Thu, 24 November, 2016 Boringly tidy or artistically messy in the kitchen? It might be boring, but order helps you focus.

Fri, 11 November, 2016 Gas or electrics - I'm trying hard not to hate my new induction hob.

Fri, 4 November, 2016 New kitchen - caveat emptor, and don't expect a dream come true.

Fri, 28 October, 2016 The rise of the hipster salad.

Fri, 21 October, 2016 No kitchen for two months - what shall I cook first in the new one?

Fri, 14 October, 2016 Cooking is easier, cheaper and more varied than eating out.

Wed, 5 October, 2016 Kitchen designers - my own Great Kitchen Design Off.

Tue, 27 September, 2016 Life without kitchen. Or bathroom, most of the time.

Wed, 21 September, 2016 British cakes - let's not forget the classics.

Thu, 15 September, 2016 Going out for breakfast? Just don't order scrambled eggs.

Wed, 7 September, 2016 Great British Bake Off - now I know why I'd never watched it.

Wed, 31 August, 2016 Eating out: posh nosh or good & simple? I go for value these days.

Thu, 10 August, 2017 Eat food. Not too much. Some of it raw.

Thu, 11 August, 2016 Is a steam oven THE must-have appliance? I'll stick to my stock pot with a steamer insert.

Thu, 4 August, 2016 How to lose weight: the Food Fascist and I

Thu, 28 July, 2016 Eating whilst sprawled on the sofa? Not for me.

Thu, 21 July, 2016 How to live and what to eat on a building site.

Thu, 14 July, 2016 Weird dietary trends - the pseudo-nutritional nonsense

Fri, 8 July, 2016 What are the most useful tools in cooking and baking life?

Thu, 30 June, 2016 The aftermath of the referendum - time to cook some bacon.

Thu, 23 June, 2016 'Easy recipe' - it's an oxymoron!

Fri, 17 June, 2016 Common currency? Don't know, but I know about Common Food!

Fri, 10 June, 2016 How to NOT EAT - totally non-expert advice on weight loss

Thu, 2 June, 2016 Rain, thunder and floods, but summer berries are arriving

Thu, 26 May, 2016 Pancakes are the nation's favourite food

Tue, 17 May, 2016 Spring is here

Fri, 13 May, 2016 It's a hard life being a food blogger