Travel eating can be a horror, of course, since the challenges of being in unfamiliar territory, changing time zones (and therefore, often, the times when we’re hungry or not), having to figure out the differences in price based on a travel budget and possibly foreign currencies and the simple odds of finding great food in a new or different place can all conspire to put us at risk of eating badly, if at all. I can think of a few classic examples in my own history, to be sure. A trip to a certain little (long gone, God willing) Inn that wanted ever so dearly to be thought quaint and Elizabethan and folkloric springs instantly to mind: a speedy glimpse into the dining room should have warned of danger ahead, had either my sister or I bothered to note that the decor included a plate rail circling the room and bearing an ominously vast collection of cartoonish miniature boxes of cold cereal. What followed, since we failed to notice this flagrant danger signal before we’d ordered and waited quite awhile, was remarkable in its weirdness and memorably awful tasting, a meal in which every single ingredient smacked noticeably of the tin from whence it sprang and the pièce de résistance was a salad thus composed: one wet leaf of iceberg lettuce cupping a hard, slightly greenish canned peach half that in turn cradled one whole pitted black olive. If ever a thing eyed me ominously, it was that thing.
But more often than not, lest you think me incapable of finding out the true culinary delights peculiar to any place I visit, I love travel in large (no pun intended) part because I do find and relish such specialties of places-not-my-home.
In Texas, besides the fine variety of regional treats influenced by the mix of whatever native and immigrant populations rule therein, there is almost always some great Mexican and/or Tex-Mex food to be had, not to mention the whole range of beefy, meaty and BBQ-smoky goodness that reigns in the hearts and stomachs of the locals. So you know full well that when my spousal-person and I get to do any wandering in our current state of dwelling, we tend to hunt for those joints where the area’s avid eaters congregate to eat such good and glorious things.A trip to the Boston Early Music Festival is reason to rejoice by virtue all of the fantastic playing and singing we hear there. High art and musical culture are always a thrill. But it’s also an outstanding excuse to indulge in Boston‘s superlative food culture. So, given the chance, you can bet I’ll dash to one of the nearest provisioners of provender to order up a beatific lobster roll as soon as I can manage it. If it is repeated numerous times and also happens to be followed by a number of equally fine regional treats, say, a dainty dish of Boston baked beans swimming in molasses-sticky sauce or some spectacular Italian food at the north end of town, why then, I’m all the happier.Driving through Oregon wine country is a sure way to enjoy some spectacular scenery, its vineyards interspersed with small organic farms and fruit and hazelnut orchards, but do you think there’s any chance I would settle for merely viewing such glories and not dining on them too? Think again! Would I go visiting in northern Italy and not fill up on ethereal handmade pasta with wild mushrooms? Never! Cross an inch of Hungarian soil without seeking out a good dose or ten of paprikás or gulyás? Perish the thought! This musing is motivated in part, of course, by the opportunity and intent to spend a bit of this summer engaged in this beloved sport of eating-while-traveling. (Or, admittedly, traveling-while-eating.) But if it also serves to move you to further such adventures, rest assured I will be cheering you on all the way. And if I can find you and join you at the table, I most assuredly will.
Ok, first it’s a lobstah roll in these parts…second, are you coming to the Early Music Festival next season? ‘Cause I *hope* you weren’t an hour’s drive away last month…
Uh-oh. I didn’t realize you were so nearby!!! Clearly I don’t know my geography at all. Yes, we were in Boston. And yes, I et plenty of lobstah; even if I had the wrong accent, I have the right tastebuds for it! But also yes: we do very much hope and plan to be at the next BEMF. It’s *biennial*, not annual, alternating years with the *other* BEMF (Berkeley), but we’ll try to keep attending both festivals as long as we have any excuse and can afford it. So I’d love if we can meet in 2 years (if I can’t get you down to Texas in the meantime).
Doesn’t look like I’ll be getting the Little One on a plane anytime soon, much as my mother would love for us to head that way…But yeah – next time you’re in/around Boston, give a yell! I’m just over an hour away, and don’t (yet) suffer from the NE attitude about driving ‘long’ distances…
Listening to WGBH in the car, it’s easy to think BEMF is not only annual, but perpetual! 😉
Yes, I do gather that there are BEMF concerts and events going on a great deal of the time outside of the actual festival. Hope music events never stop being perpetual, even if we can’t all afford either the time or the bucks to go often. As for traveling to see each other, the time will come one way or another. 🙂
Getting to know the foods of places we travel to is I think one of life’s great pleasures. I smiled when I read your description of the interior design of the Inn where you got such a poor meal. Altho I have to confess that as a child I was both fascinated and fond of miniature packets of cereals (especially Rice Krispies) probably because they were not everyday fare and hence became a treat.
Oh, I was and still am a big fan of those charming mini-packets myself. But as a gauge for culinary and cultural excellence in a restaurant, I’m a little less impressed. 😉 Still, I have to admit that I’d never have even remembered the place if it hadn’t been so weird and mediocre. Not the best claim to fame, maybe, but memorable anyway!
Oh, I would love to tuck into all of that!
🙂 Mandy xo
Well, my darling, I’ll be very happy if/when the time comes that we can tuck into a meal or two together! Meanwhile, it’s nice to be able to share our virtual meals and adventures. 😀
I’m getting hungry, my dear friend, and my dinner won’t compare to your photos! 🙂
I’ll bet your dinners are dandy. It’s all about the company we keep, anyway! 😀 As I know you know.