For the past few months I have been helping my dad plan my parents European excursion and I’m afraid I’m suffering from a bit of wanderlust…So, I thought I’d add another blog about food.
When I was in Europe and the UK I noticed a few things about food that are different from America. Dining al fresco is extremely popular and inexpensive food is readily available if you change your thinking about what constitutes a meal — and I don’t mean American fast food. Grab and go food, hot or cold, is so much healthier outside the U.S. –- sorry. Small bites are the norm and if you want a traditional local experience try a local carry out chain, a deli, a farmers market or even a shop in a train station. Buy small quantities of different foods to share with your traveling partner and enjoy the outdoors like the locals do.
My typical go to while traveling is to hit up a farmers market. When we think about farmers markets in the U.S., we think of rows of stalls full of healthy fresh vegetables, fruits, artisan breads and maybe some crafts. Usually the ready to eat foods are fruits and pastries – unless you shop at larger farmers markets. But in the UK and Europe, markets also tend to have stalls making hot foods, fresh juices, salads, sandwiches and more. Meats and cheeses are typical in Paris, while in coastal Croatian towns one can also find oils, and non-edible products such as lavender products, soaps and sponges from the sea. You can’t beat a few dollars for a bowl of soup, a curry, salad, or buy small portions of a few different types of fruit, cheese, meats, olives, and bread to nosh on.
In London there are healthy fast food options at Pret A Manger and Eat – where one can pick up soups, salads, sandwiches, and hot pots (my favorite) made fresh daily for carry out. Wasabi Sushi & Bento was one of my favorite places to stop for its addicting tofu curry. These options along with a fab Lebanese shop were great lunch options during school in London because they were inexpensive, low calorie options in reasonable portion sizes. Usually, I would eat in the outdoor spaces at school and in the park square or cafeteria at the library as is the custom. Every country I traveled to offered inexpensive, healthy, carryout chain options that were worth trying.
This might sounds crazy, but for me, European train station delis, bakeries and food stores are like hip American food trucks — especially in Germany. Do not be afraid to grab food and go. There were a few stations that I frequented and went back to the same spot and ordered the same yummy food. So, grab your food, soda, water, wine, beer or whatever you fancy, hop a train, head to a public square and enjoy your tasty feast like a local.