What’s in my dream holiday rental house? Decent kitchen knives, for a start | Food

Being a fully paid-up member of the acutely tasteful, exquisitely nuanced, belly-obsessed bourgeoisie is a dreadful struggle, and never more so than when summer holidays approach. For with the anticipation – of long lunches on bougainvillea-scented terraces with sea views, of chilled glasses of rosé as dusk falls – comes The Fear. It is the stomach-churning fear of the, oh God, ill-equipped kitchen.

This year we have rented a house in Greece, and while I have flicked endlessly through the online photographs, imagining myself inhabiting the scene, it is the pictures of the kitchen I have lingered over, in search of signs. Except there never are any, because images like this are an exercise in advanced OCD. Any clutter, any objects which might leave clues, have been tidied away. I’m delighted there’s a wine fridge, obviously. But what I really need to know is this: what are the kitchen knives like?

It’s a stupid question. Kitchen knives in rentals are always crap. They are never bought to be sharp and perfectly weighted. They are bought to look like kitchen knives, not to actually be them. I therefore start making a list of the things I’ll need to take with me, to make this the dream holiday that I’ve been playing out in my mind.

Firstly, there really will have to be those kitchen knives from home. And while we’re at it what about a good chopping board? Too many rentals appear to think that glass chopping boards, which produce the sound of nails down a blackboard when the blade gets through the onion, are a good idea. They aren’t. A modest non-glass one wouldn’t go amiss would it. And a cafetière. Sure, there’s a coffee machine in the pictures but it will take me days to work out how to use one of those effectively. And don’t get me started on bloody Nespresso machines and their knock-offs. The coffee always comes out lukewarm.

So yes, knives, a chopping board, a cafetière. And, of course, proper sized mugs, instead of those dismal thimbles they always have. I need a bucket of coffee in the morning. I don’t want to keep going back for refills. This is about my needs, and my needs are extremely detailed. Maybe I should take a Microplane. I don’t actually own one at the moment, but perhaps now is the time to get one just so I can take it with me on holiday, along with a really good corkscrew, a proper pair of tongs and …

Which is when I begin to understand the attraction of caravanning. You don’t have to take kitchen equipment with you, because the kitchen is always there. Fabulous. Which is also when the words “what have I become?” flit across my mind. If buying a caravan is the answer it must be a pretty stupid question. Where’s my sense of adventure? Where’s my spirit of improvisation?

In the trailer for Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, his new series for National Geographic, he is seen climbing trees freestyle, scaling cliff faces and driving motorbikes along needle-thin mountain paths; I do hope nothing awful happens to him. He’s also seen cooking with the barest bits of kit: sticks, flints, a machete and a barely sublimated fear of male inadequacy. I think to myself: “Maybe I should be more like Gordon.”

Finally, I come to my senses. Anything which makes me conclude I should imitate Ramsay is a lost cause. It’s back to plan A. I don’t need that many clothes for a good summer holiday. I don’t really need shoes or books. But believe me, I really do need some good sharp knives. It’s time to get packing.

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