Food is a bit of an issue while travelling. It’s been amusing, over the last few weeks, to see a variety of people realise quite how little our kids can eat and survive. They start off thinking we’re joking and then after a couple of meals come to the realisation that there are people in the world for whom the definition of a ‘good meal’ is a plate of rice, white rice of course.
Eating with kids while traveling is always a challenge. I have to admit we’ve avoided the worst of the potential problems simply by not putting ourselves in situations which will lead to angst and arguments.
The fact that we’ve stayed in apartments and houses for most of the last year has made things immeasurably easier because we can hide healthy foods within a pasta sauce, for example, in a way which you just don’t find in restaurants. The flip side has been having to make do with a variety of cookware, deal without spices or oils, compromise on ingredients and so on. We’ve had to negotiate new supermarkets on a weekly basis which can be tricky (as well as entertaining). We’ve often found a food we love in one place, never to see it again: a lovely eggy-potato-sausagey thing in Germany for example, or fish cakes in Norway.
The last three weeks have seen us eat the best we have in the last ten months. On the Inca trail we had amazing meals cooked over a camping gas stove. In the Amazon we had buffet meals three-times a day using local ingredients; and we had piranha we caught ourselves! Much to Cal’s delight every meal had piles of rice available. Returning to having to cook for ourselves has been a shock to the system – a shock exacerbated by having to cook with bits and bobs of equipment and having the stove die on us half way through a meal.
I have to admit there are some parts of the experience I don’t find so entertaining. In particular I am entirely over having to buy water. The two kilometer walk back from the supermarket with ten kilos of water on my back is not a memory I relish. It makes me realise how lucky we are at home to get clean, drinkable water from the tap and it makes me long for that too.
We’ve become adept at finding and navigating supermarkets around the world. The differences are endlessly entertaining. From gun-toting shoppers in Jerusalem, to unidentifiable dried bits of animals in Beijing, to automated recycling in Germany, there’s always something to grab your attention. Here in Peru it’s the seemingly endless varieties of corn and potatoes as well as the cheap labour leading to lots of people actively demonstrating and selling things. Today, as we wandered in to a supermarket in the middle of a school day, the Oreo sales-team kicked into frightening overdrive at the sight of two kids. We spent half and hour in the supermarket being stalked by a giant Oreo backed up by a guy wearing two pressurised containers of milk on his back like a flamethrower.