For the last four weeks since I left my home I have maintained a simple and unextravagant diet which, although supplemented with new, regional delights, remains largely unchanged wherever I go.
Each day I eat:
1 (min) link of chorizo
1 slab of LIndt or Ritter Sport chocolate
I occasionally supplement this diet with:
With even a cursory glance it should be clear that this is perhaps not the healthiest diet in the world, but life on the road comes with its own set of demands, and nutrition is often a tertiary concern when grocery shopping.
The most immediate concern is refrigeration; except for sleeping outside when its chilly, I have no way of keeping my food cool. The south of Spain and France were particularly hot during the day which was cause for some concern. To combat this I only purchase quantities of meat which can be eaten within 36 hours of time of purchase. Chorizo, and sausages in general, while they should be kept cool, are not really a danger for spoiling like other types of meat. So even though consumption of fatty, salty meat on a daily basis is a practice I would abhor back home, out here it just makes good sense.
Baguettes and bread are less of a concern for spoiling so I will typically buy more bread than I need because it is good to snack on while walking even when I am not sitting for a proper meal. The concern however, as I recently found out, is bugs: while camping west of Cannes I was in some dirt and the next day I noticed small ants all over the inside of my backpack concentrated around the food. Had I been on grass this wouldnt have been such a problem, so it is as much an issue about picking the right spot to camp as it is about sealing food properly. Luckily the bread spoiled was cheapo supermarket baguettes which I had no trouble losing. Since this loss I have begun to individually seal my bread in produce bags. Though I eat more bread here than I would at home, it also makes good sense; bread is such a universal food for a reason and the different variations in each country make it a constantly changing dietary staple.
Similarly, espresso, and coffee in general, has been a staple of my existence. I drink A LOT of espresso, and because of this it has become the key indicator of price fluctuations in various European countries. So far, Portugal and Spain (south) has been the cheapest places to travel while prices got steeper in France and ropped again slightly in Italy, these economic observations are based solely on what I pay for espressos. FTR, Portugal has had the best coffee as well as the cheapest. Spain is a close second.
—>As I move further east, the espresso as I have come to know it will give way to Turkish coffee and other variations on that theme but I think the value of coffee as an indicator of cost will remain valid.
I never buy chocolate at home but its value on the road is indispensable. Not only is it delicious but it is also a solid slab of morale; if it works for depressed women it works for me. Also, like chorizo I can justify eating a slab a day when I am walking a minimum of 15 km a day.
Typically I have kept a bottle of Spanish brandy (7 euros per litre) in my backpack. It goes great with espresso and is tolerable on its own when I wanna wet my beak before bed (when I wake up, when its lunchtime, when Im waiting for a train, etc….). Beers I will purchase as I feel like having one or if it comes with a snack, such as the tapas in Granada. I dont really drink beer anymore back home and the same applies here. However, wanting to experience it all, I realize the necessity of occasionally taking one for the team and crushing a cold one after walking for hours in the sun…its a hard life. On the other hand, I fucks with wine! A bottle of local wine, especially in the south of France, which I can buy for 2 to 3 euros, is so good and goes so well with my simple meals that I really cant afford not to crush 2 to 3 bottles a week. I dont think I have enjoyed wine this much ever in my life no matter how fancy a bottle I have bought when back home. Its just on another level here.
Fresh produce I buy as I need it. Tomatoes typically go good with my bread and sausage meals, while apples are good for those days when I dont feel I have walked enough to earn my chocolate. But if I go a day without these things I dont lament it because they are more or less the same as back home so I dont feel I am missing out.
Cheese, I dont buy that often but I grabbed some Camembert back in France. While it was good with bread, chorizo and wine, I have always been more of a Brie man. Even the supermarket Brie in France was just ridikilis. I bought 200g the night I got the ant infestation and almost crushed the whole thing while I sat having dinner. The next day I bought another block in Cannes and ate it with a boulangerie baguette (best bread yet) in front of the Cannes Film Festival theatre with the last remnants of a bottle of wine. Perhaps my simplest and best meal yet.
But alas, I have things easy for the next week or so living with my cousin. His mom is making meals for us and I am not walking every day so I am trying to rein in some of my excesses. Once I hit the road again however, it will be business as usual. I am curious to see how this diet changes as I move south to Anatolia and the Middle East from there. I wonder how the chorizo is in Muslim countries?