Published on October 23rd, 2012 | by Miss Be Fit2
Travel – Food Flexibility
Recently I took my yearly trip to Galicia, Spain.
I usually go each summer to visit family there, and each time, I cling on for dear life to the hope of keeping up with my style of eating and regular workouts. Well, anyone who’s been to Spain knows that’s a feat of Everest proportions!
Galicians typically eat a heavily laden seafood and jamon diet. Vegetables are not the norm. Luckily for me, my wonderful family there tries to accomodate my ‘crazy’ vegan lifestyle and I end up eating alot of potatoes and fresh green leaf salads with tomatoes. The other nice touch is that, heavy desserts are not popular since there is a plethora of amazing fruits and melons, so I mostly exist off those. But, when traveling, I have learned to accept that in different areas of the world, food means different things. When I see my aunt Generosa in Galicia, cooking all day with delight, all the traditional seafood dishes that people have survived on for god knows how long, I am in awe of the love and care she puts into each dish. She is so proud to feed this large family of children, grandchildren, and extended family, each day that, who am I to push my North American food beliefs on her. This woman spends hours preparing the most amazing meals out of the freshest, most local ingredients, including all the seafood that comes right to her shores on the coast. So who am I to say…’I can’t eat that, I’m vegan’. That phrase is lost on her, and I feel more like I’ve insulted someone who has created what they see as a piece of art. Food preparation, and sitting around a large table outside in the fresh ocean breeze overlooking the Atlantic, with a large family is a way of life. I know in North America, I had lost that connection. Enjoying food is a privilege. Especially food made from recipes handed down for generations with thought in mind, each ingredient carefully mulled over. Food, for these people, is a way to connect and enjoy each other. It’s a way for a family to spend hours together around a table, discussing and laughing.
So when in Spain, I have learned to be flexible. Gone are the days when I bring and cook my own tofu at a table brimming with every barnacle, clam, mussel, picked from the ocean, making myself the ‘odd’ man out. Before my eyes sits a table with the most colorful paellas, largest empanadas I have ever seen, the thickest most mouthwatering tortillas, and much much more. I have learned to respect this food placed before me, and to try small amounts and not pass judgement on others. I am there to enjoy my family. Of course I am not about to eat the jamon, and other mammals served up, and I definitely draw the line at ‘pulpo’ (the brilliant octopus). But I will try the other different types of seafood and fluffy egg tortillas. I keep it to extremely small amounts and load up on salad and fruit, but when I see the look of happiness on Generosa’s face when I have tried her magic, to me it’s well worth a topple off the vegan wagon.
Deep down I know this is not my lifestyle, and soon I’ll be back in the big smoke of Paris, able to be full on in my eating ways again. But this new-found flexibility makes my vacations much more pleasant for me and all those involved. Gone are the stressful days of : What the hell am I going to eat here, and that’s a huge relief.