Going abroad is probably the most exciting thing in the world! If you take any person out of their home country, they suddenly become this absolute travel beast; spending every minute outdoors, acting mostly in a polite manner, and being totally ok with everything. But one thing that remains the same is their food habits. Sure, we might like to believe that we become entirely different people when we go abroad but if you give it a little thought, not much actually changes when it comes to what we consume.
In fact, we perhaps turn into even more gluttonous beasts because everything is excused by those four holy words ‘oh I’m on holiday’! So let’s explore the, frankly, terrible things that we put our bodies through when we leave our home country; from the countless beers to the bucket-loads of takeaways.
The Obligatory Airport Beer
The day of your holiday is finally here! The one time of the year when it’s totally acceptable, even enjoyable, to wake up at 4am. You arrive at the airport two hours early as instructed, totally aware that this is far too long and unnecessary, but you don’t want to miss your flight! After being fined for bringing too much luggage (everybody brings three outfits per day, right?) and having your dignity heavily reduced at security, an early morning beer is just the thing to lighten your spirits. The airside bar is the the church of the airport, a place that everyone flocks towards to forget their sins and become renewed. It’s also the only place in the entire world where it’s tolerated, even respected, to have a drink at six in the morning. Sure, you can tell yourself that a few beers and a shot or two is because you’re a nervous flyer, but be sure that everybody knows it’s actually because you just love drinking, but you’re only human after all.
The Mile High Food Club
Ah plane food, only a single step up from hospital food on the gastronomy spectrum. If you’re lucky enough to be flying with a national carrier then good for you, a mini-sized three course meal is all yours, and where else can you eat a starter, main, and dessert that all taste the same? But it’s free, or at least factored into your ticket price, so why complain? On the flipside, if you find yourself with one of the increasing number of airlines who have decided to rob you of every cent you have, then be prepared to spend the price of your airfare twice over on light snacks and wine. You’ve probably told yourself that you will never, ever spend €8 on a small plastic cup of Merlot but just try and resist as that metal trolley trundles down the aisle towards you. And what’s that? You can also get a cheese sandwich for an extra €5 as part of a “meal deal”? TAKE MY MONEY!
Upon arrival at the hotel, and after travelling for what seems like three days, one of the first things you’ll want is to find a good place for food. You innocently ask the hotel receptionist where the best place in town is and watch as she grabs a huge paper map out of her desk and unfolds it, doubling its size with each swift motion, before eventually circling a nondescript street as far away from the hotel as possible. This is the place that she recommends you to eat at tonight, or more likely this is the place the hotel has some sort of shady deal with to increase business. The restaurant will generally be substandard and you’ll notice that the prices suddenly rocket on the English version of the menu. I’m no translator, but surely copying ‘pepperoni pizza’ from Greek to English doesn’t correlate with a 50% price hike.
The Supermarket Sweep
Supermarkets are the hidden treasures of foreign countries, this is the place to go for all of the holiday essentials; extra sun lotion, water, and cheap alcohol. But here you will also get a taste, quite literally, of what food the locals like. From the huge delicatessen selling a range of fresh meats to the aisles and aisles of junk food, all there for the taking for a relatively cheap price. Where else can you find liquorice flavoured crisps and banana flavoured chocolate bars? For the unadventurous amongst us, the supermarket is also the home of the safest and blandest food known to man – paprika potato chips. You can find these in literally every supermarket in the world despite there being approximately three people that enjoy them.
The Drunken Food Crawl
It’s 5am, the foam party in the city’s hottest club has ended, and the guy you’ve been getting acquainted with all night can’t host because his flatmate doesn’t know that he’s gay. There’s only one thing left to do; hunt for food like a barbarian savage. Being in an unfamiliar city whilst being totally wasted is a recipe for chaos, but it often brings about some of the best tales and experiences. You’ll pester every person you walk past, begging them to tell you where the nearest takeaway is as your drunken high slowly turns into hanger. Upon finding the one solitary place that’s open in the early morning, you’ll order one of everything on the undecipherable menu, pissing off the server and chef in the meantime, before taking approximately three bites back in your hotel/hostel before passing out in a post-cocktail blur. At least the sight of grey chicken wings will help clear your body of alcohol in the morning though.
The Risk-Free Home Comfort
Everybody swears that they only eat what the locals eat when abroad, it’s part of the adventure right? After all, why go half way across the world just to eat what you would at home? But nobody can deny that after a heavy day of sightseeing and criss-crossing around a city on public transport, those golden arches, smiling colonel, or green siren are all welcome and familiar sights. Grabbing a cheeseburger or a vanilla latte at one of these places is the dirty secret of the vacation that nobody can ever find out! That cruising session at the leather party last night can be discussed, even bragged about, and so can the fifteen boys you made out with on your first night, but the fact that you ate at a McDonald’s abroad is taboo.
The Last Night Splurge
It’s the last night of your adventure, so you and your friends have decided to go to that fancy new restaurant in the posh part of town that Lonely Planet swears is the hottest place to be. You’ve already spent your holiday budget three times over and the credit card has been getting a good workout for the past few days so money is no longer an issue. This isn’t about the money or the food though, it’s about feeling like the king of the city, and you’ll like spend most of your time here on Facebook and Instagram, checking in and posting pictures of the entire five course meal making sure that everybody back home knows where you are. You certainly won’t care that much for the food at the time of eating, but you’ll certainly sing its praises and talk of its excellence when back home.
The Duty Free Dash
So the holiday’s over; you’re spent up and ready for your own bed yet filled with some wonderful memories and silly stories to tell to anyone who’ll listen. Just one last thing to do then, spend the last of your foreign coins on oversized Toblerone bars and 5kg bags of M&Ms. I swear the airport duty free shop is the only place that any human being ever buys these things. At the time of purchase, you convince yourself that this is a present for your sister and her husband because you forgot to pick them up a fridge magnet. However, you’re fully aware that it’ll be cracked open when boredom strikes on the journey home and will then be rendered useless as a gift meaning you’ll just have to finish it all off yourself. You’re already going to have to hit the gym hard for the next six months because of this holiday, so why not eat your weight in chocolate before touching down?