A beginner's guide to hostelling: Using the kitchen
This is the long-awaited second in a series introducing hostelling to newbies. Please read the first, on getting over dorm room jitters, here.
Why should you cook in the hostel kitchen?
The most obvious point; the cost benefit of eating out vs. cooking at home is pretty well established.
It’s hard to find healthy choices when eating out. The healthy options are less appealing than the fatty ones; should I go for the grilled chicken breast and side salad with fat-free vinaigrette, or should I get the burger and fries? I find after a few days of indulgence on vacation, I crave fruit and veg. It’s easy to whip up a bowl of quinoa and kale, and way tastier then that bland chicken and out-of-season salad.
It's better for those with allergies or food restrictions
If you have a severe food allergy, eat gluten-free, are vegan, or have other food restrictions, it’s a lot easier (and for allergies, safer) to make your own food rather than track down somewhere that serves food to suit you. In some countries, it may even be your only option.
It’s fun to explore foreign supermarkets
I love going to grocery stores, and visiting foreign ones is the most fun. You get to see all sorts of different things like fun packaging and interesting products. In Hawaii I stocked up on cheap local pineapple and papaya and gawked at the price of imported tomatoes. In Italy I marveled at the selection in the yogurt aisle and bought the best porchetta of my life.
It’s a lot easier to strike up a conversation over food. You can chat while you chop, you can borrow and share ingredients, and when you’re done, you can break bread together. While working at the front desk of a hostel, there were many nights I would see groups of travelers who had recently been strangers work together to create a communal meal. They would sit down to a big supper of spaghetti, salad and bread, inviting other lone guests to join them. This is really the heart of hostelling: like-minded travelers, sharing and socializing in a communal environment.
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