When traveling by bike (or by foot, roller or scooter) on long-haul journey, the kitchen is of capital importance.
When I say cooking, I think of course of the dishes you can swallow and which will be your fuel but also the utensils constituting your travel kitchen and which will do (at least in half) that what you swallow is indeed a dish (more or less refined) and not a simple fuel.
In periods of constant effort and limited comfort, it is necessary to find pleasure and comfort in the kitchen. We could have contented ourselves with a low-end stove and a simple saucepan allowing us to reheat water intended only to rehydrate lyophilized dishes. But I challenge you to eat like that for 8 months cycling all day long.
All that weight we had to hang out to pride ourselves on a daily (or almost) gourmet cuisine, we felt fully profitable when we fell asleep on the back, the belly slightly bulging, buttocks sore but taste buds partying after a good meal.
We were totally under-prepared regarding the stuff of the kitchen. We did not realize it in the first month since we slept every night at Warmshowers, couchsurfers or friends. Our cookware was enriched and completed during the trip.
Here is what it was like when we reached our optimal version of the "kitchen" load.
- Saucepan (ONYX stainless steel box 18cm diameter)
- Saucepan handle (plastic)
- Forks (from our home in stainless steel)
- Spoons (from our home in stainless steel)
- Leatherman (Skeletool with kit 21 reversible tips)
- Glass (Eco-cup in plastic)
- Mug (special stainless steel camping)
- Plate metal (special aluminum camping)
- Stove (Primus Duo)
1. The Saucepan
Our criteria: we were looking for a light saucepan for 2 people and hermetic for our small lunch dishes.
Our choice: we opted for a container intended officially only for conservation. Stainless steel, a very strong mechanical closure and a silicone seal. With a diameter of 18cm and a height of 10.5cm, our saucepan has a capacity of 1.75 L which equals food with 2 well-rounded dishes or 3 to 4 plates for those who do not make 60 km of bike per day.
Our opinion: it was cheaper than the special camping equivalent but there is no handle and it is a bit thin in the bottom to distribute the heat of the stove. So we had to get accustomed and get our hands on the first meals that were not the best ... Florent very quickly became expert and we could almost cook everything in.
The rule with which we do not compromise for our meals is always to find there energy, taste, fiber, vitamins and other trace elements.
So we systematically had starchy food (pasta, potatoes, rice ...) accompanied by vegetables in sauce but a single "saucepan", to cook everything.
Here is how we proceeded:
---> At first, we cooked the vegetables, returned in olive oil and then finished in cooking with water (to constitute a sauce).
---> In a second step, we reserved the vegetables to cook starches with water.
---> In case of rest (but I assure you that it has not often happened), it makes us a complement for the next day noon, hence the need to have a tightly closing receptacle.
To handle the saucepan, we simply procured a handle of universal popote.
2. Classic stainless steel forks and spoons
The special camping cutelry is expensive and is rarely actually handy.
They are mostly too short and do not allow you to take much with each bite. In short, for us, the cutlery "special camping" is a gadget.
So when we set up our travel kitchen, just before we left, we opened our drawers and picked up our 2 tablespoons and two forks. There you go!
Simple, light, ergonomic, heat-resistant (unlike most "camping" cutlery that is made of plastic), the classic stainless steel cultery is the best option you could find for travelling!
3. Leatherman knife
We have chosen it for its multifunctional aspect which avoids us having to get out the toolkit on all occasions.
But beware, with its 6.6cm blade only and a grip not always very comfortable, the Leatherman will not necessarily be your best ally for the kitchen. Sometimes cutting a slightly thick bread or zucchini is not really possible. Similarly, when you have 1.5kg of vegetables to cut, you soon realize that the grip will limit you: after 3 minutes of use, it is a little painful for the fingers.
In fact, the Leatherman has proven to be a very useful but quite limited utility knife.
Our real kitchen knife, the only one, the unique and timeless Opinel.
This one is a n°12 (12cm of blade) and we can generally do everything with it. I do not think it's worth taking a smaller blade. You can go beyond 12cm but it will not really help.
The grip is much better than with a Leatherman.
If you cook every day, with many vegetables to cut, it is always more comfortable to have a "real" knife.
It is true that if I had been told before leaving, that the peeler was one of the indispensable ustensil when traveling, I would have a little laugh. Moreover, it is not really an indispensable one. But for a good part of our trip, we ate carrots at every meal and not always organic carrot.
At first we peeled with the opinel but it is true that one saves time and one saves of the food with the peeler. For us who systematically cooked from fresh vegetables, it proved to be very useful for weight and reasonable size.
Let's say it's really useful but not completely necessary.
6. Aluminium plate
A little anecdote ... or how we ended up buying this plate.
At first we left home with only our saucepan. The first night we had the opportunity to really cook by ourselves, we wanted pasta (I think 80% of our meals) with a tomato sauce with peppers.
I cook my vegetables. It smells good, it's hot, it sings in my saucepan. But once they are cooked, I still have to make the pasta in the same saucepan which continues to sing on its stove ...
It was necessary to put the vegetables somewhere else to make space for the pasta. We looked around us and, the only food contents in sight were our bike flasks. The vegetables have remained warm while waiting for the pasta but I swear to you, there is more practical than a flask to be filled with vegetables. And then, during the weeks that followed, each sip of water from our flasks gave us a curious desire for pizza ...
We had gone in the "hard" way, thinking that there would be no need for anything but cooking, cooking, serving and eating. Actually no.
We finally got an aluminum plate that served as a cutting board and dish to reserve our vegetables while we cooked our starchy foods. For the few grams added to the package, that seems worthwhile.
We have chosen a Primus Duo stove that adapts to the two types of gas bottles most commonly found in Europe (to be clipped or screwed) and which are the most secure.
There is another type of bottle that can be found everywhere: bottles to drill. We're not really fans. When drilled to snap the stove on, it can no longer be separated from the bottle. When transported together, there is a risk of leakage. At best, when one believes that there is gas, it is at 22h in the middle of the cambrousse that one realizes that the bottle has conscientiously emptied throughout the day. At worst, it fucks you in the fingers when you did not notice that it was leaking.
Our stove model is very small, light and foldable. Despite everything, it offers more than enough power to cook the food and we took a few minutes to carry the soup of nearly 2 liters to boil (very cold water at the start).
The only complaint that can be made is that it does not distribute the heat well by providing a heating zone about 3cm in diameter. This gave us a restricted circle heated to red in the bottom of the saucepan and a weak heater on the periphery.
Our "kitchens" along the way
From the forests of Latvia to the banks of the Danube through the spots of Spanish villages, Europe has offered us multiple rooms of kitchen where our chief cook has managed to adapt over time.