The - ‘Oh! I don’t have that ingredient’ moment, swiftly followed by the - ‘What shall I use instead?’ - slightly panicked moment.
And the - ‘Wow! This is good!’ - revelation that you determine to remember when you get home but will definitely forget due to having imbibed a holiday abundance of wine. And which due to the wine might actually not be as good as you think. Unless perhaps, the sozzled brain is capable of leaps of culinary inspiration that the non-sozzled brain is incapable of, due to sober adherence to the constraints of received rules on taste combinations.
Last night’s menu-en-vacances featured salmon on a bed of mushroom, white onion, and garlic with roasted potato wedges sprinkled with ground ‘saveurs epicees’ (which added good flavour - whatever they were). Followed by fresh apricots - drizzled with honey, liberally sprinkled with cinnamon and baked in the oven - served with coconut ice-cream (which I didn’t make). The home kitchen might have added lemon juice, bacon lardons, tartare sauce and vanilla essence but the outcome wouldn’t have been better. And would have lacked the ambience created by the lingering heat of a burning summer day, the bitter metallic aroma of insect repellant, the bliss of languishing in waves of family laughter and a particularly good Monbazillac.
Although 'self-catering holiday' is an oxymoron that in it’s sheer impertinence beats all other oxymorons into a snivelling, we're-too-ashamed-that-we-exist-alongside-you-the-most-impudent-of-all-oxymorons pulp, I wouldn’t choose to holiday any other way. Togetherness is what it’s all about. Sharing the shopping, sharing the cooking, sharing the culinary experiments, sharing the songs that accompany the experiments and sharing the disasters.
But not sharing the washing up. Not because we have a self-catering martyr in our midst, but because this current self-catering establishment has a dish-washer.
Perhaps a 'self-catering-avec-dishwasher holiday' is not such a blatant oxymoron?
… Ask me at the end of our holiday.