Food and travels

Ever since I can remember, any time I’ve gone travelling food has been a big part of it; what are the best cafes, which restaurants should I book, what local delicatessen should I be trying? I love exploring places through its dishes. You can learn a lot from people, cultures and cities from their food.

In Italy it was all about the pasta, the pizza and the gelato. In Greece, the kleftiko and feta in filo pastry drizzled with honey (if you haven’t tried this yet, then definitely put this on your list!). Japan focused around sushi and more sushi.

When I travel on my own, or stay in B&Bs it’s easy. You’re expecting to eat out most of the time, giving in to the littles whim of what to have throughout the day. Cue foodie Beth in her right element.

On the flip side, this strong link between travelling and food also makes it almost unbearably to stay at people’s houses… Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE staying with people and being part of their ways, but I get slightly angsty knowing I can’t eat what I want, when I want. This is especially the case when you’re with people that don’t have the same eating pattern as you. So how to you get around this?

I think it was Nigella who once said it that she brings food with her to people’s places if she’s staying over. Not because their food is awful; just to have something as a back up. I haven’t done this myself yet, but she’s on to something there. Then again, eating in secrecy doesn’t sound great now does it?

This weekend was one of these trips. I was staying with a friend’s family, and before we got there we had planned eating at some of the restaurants local to them – or even getting a cheeky takeaway. As things had it, we didn’t go out to eat at all, instead having salads and chicken and other bits at home. It was lovely.

I did have to have a quiet word with myself and my mind every now and then, but I’ve also realised that I don’t NEED the food.

I want it.

But don’t NEED it.

And that feels good.

Why do we think of food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

There’s an article in today’s The Observer which addresses the morality of food, and why we now see certain types of food – cakes! – as ‘bad’ while others – vegetables mainly – are taking the moral high-ground and get labelled as ‘good’.

“For as long as we can remember, the British have associated delicious food with depraved indulgence. Anything that tastes good has got to be bad for your body, soul or both.”

This echoes discussions found in podcasts I’ve been listening to recently (The Bod Cast and Mind Body Musings). The more aware you become of the fact that most of us think of food as good or bad, naughty or nice, the more you realise how indoctrinated we are to think this way. It’s a modern thing – pushed even further by the popularity of ‘clean eating’ in recent years. Hell, only today at brunch one of my friends said to the table: “Should I go for the good option or the fun option?”, putting the vote out to those around it as in an attempt to be persuaded one way or the other.

Why is there such a moral question around food? 

We want to eat better, nourish our bodies and souls, we want to ‘be good’, and then push decisions to our friends and families when we actually want something that’s been deemed as ‘naughty/bad’. Why can’t we choose things ourselves? Why can’t we look at food and think of it only as food, and that ANY AND ALL foods can and should be enjoyed. The problem is not the food. The problem is the amount and frequency of when we eat it. With food being abundantly available in developed societies, moderation has become problematic.

After years of dieting (feeling great as long as I stuck to the rules), then only to end up binging in secrecy and feeling shit about myself, I’m working on retraining myself into eating intuitively. This means no food item is on the naughty list. I’m going to listen to my body and what it wants – be it sugar, fat, carbs, meat, vegetables. It’s not going to be easy – years of abusing my body and mind, denying myself the pleasure of food will help do that. But it’s not impossible.

It’s time to feed my body and soul. Enjoy the pleasures of life and be happy.