Food sustains me. Well, food sustains all of us. But I think about food and write about food a lot of the time. This was made all the more clear by an event of many years ago.
On the way to the airport in Paris in 1998 with our two younger sons, we stopped at an unnamed U.S.-based fast food chain for some fuel for the boys (remember, they were just boys), and while inside, our three backpacks were stolen. Each of the backpacks was chock full of mementos that our sons had picked up during our five-week trek; and my husband's backpack contained all the exposed film we had shot except for what was in the camera. A very generous English-speaking off-duty manager at said establishment agreed to accompany us to the local gendarmerie where I was obligated to file a report in order to avoid the scorn and fiscal penalty of the car leasing company. Regrettably, we arrived at noon--the sacred time for the mid-day relaxing meal in France (and many other civilized countries in the world), and the manager had to cajole the only remaining gendarme to let us in as we were otherwise going to miss our return flight home. Suffice it to say after much report filing and rushing to the airport and getting on the plane, the boys were most grumpy and unhappy about their lost treasures--and I was feeling helpless and responsible (though I didn't actually leave the car open or invite anyone to break in) as I had not parked within sight of the windows of the restaurant.
After our endless and miserable flight home, I put together a document that all of us could enjoy that would memorialize our adventure. I gathered pictures from magazines, books and the internet and transcribed and embellished my own journal to capture the memories that we otherwise would have experienced through the actual display of the regional sew-on patches, the Mickey Mouse hat from EuroDisney, the shells gathered on the beach in the south of France, the miniature Eiffel Towers, the miniature Mercedes Benz from the M-B museum in Munich, the fuzzy little bull from Barcelona, ad infinitum.
Lo and behold, what should emerge on the pages of the journal but food. I wrote down every meal--mine and sometimes others' meals--from every day of the five weeks. It was then that I realized that food is so important a part of travel for me--especially food that is unusually good or bad. Since that time, I have noticed that my travel journals have continued to reflect my eating habits. I have used that love of food to improve and expand my repertoire of recipes, which I serve to my mostly-willing family and friends with great satisfaction.
More to come on food and travel.