… and when traveling in general. Since I am currently in Italy I am using it as a concrete example.
If you are wealthy you can stay at kosher hotels and bed & breakfast and eat at kosher restaurants. This is the easiest way but it can be expensive and is restrictive in some countries where such places are rare.
This post is meant to help people staying in self-catering appartments. This perspective is based on my own understanding of kashrut and should be used as advice and guidelines not as an authorative view. Therefore feel free to disagree and check with more knowledgeable people if in doubt.
Here are a few tips:
– Forget about meat altogether for the length of your stay; things will be much easier. Some people pack more or less all the things – including tins of meat – they intend to eat when away but this might prove very heavy if you are flying and more complicated to manage once you’re actually there.
– Pack two pots; one big enough for boiling such items as rice and pasta and a smaller one for boiling eggs, warming up sauces and cooking vegetables. Take also a (parve) knife.
– When you get to your destination, visit a local store or supermarket for disposable plates and cutlery.
– Before you go, find the list of kosher authorized products.
– Read it! This is very important. First it will help you determine whether you need to pack other items. For instance, taking olive oil isn’t necessary as Carapelli, a great and widely available type of olive oil, is authorized. On the other hand you might wish to pack vinegar as no wine vinegars are allowed. Then knowing some names will help you recognize the products while shopping. Thus if you know the name of a brand of tuna fish and of mozarella you will save time once you are in the store.
– Make rice and pasta dishes. You can use plain tomato sauce and add your own ingredients such as tuna or vegetable). Prepare salad plates. Cook eggs (hard-boiled, omelets…). Eat plenty of fruit and yogurts. Keep in mind that all fresh bread is permitted; this is the same in France where legislation regarding bread is quite strict. This will prove useful when you want to eat a packed lunch.
– When you go out things are obviously more complex but there are still a few things you can do. Concerning tea and coffee: if it is served in a glass or duralex cup, there is room for leniency, based on the opinions that glass does not absorb.
In Keeping Kosher – Eating Out, Rabbi David Sperling writes:
It would therefore be preferable to use a disposable cup, or a glass. But if these options are unavailable, one can drink kosher tea or coffee from a regular cup (see Yechave Da’at, ibid., and also the Nodah Bi’Yehudah, Yoreh De’ah, 36).
In the same article, Rabbi David Sperling also deals with the issue of eating cold foods, something you might find useful if you wish to eat a salad in a non-kosher restaurant.
Feel free to add your own advice and ideas as they will undoubtedly be useful.