Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Taste for Travel

Many travelers, especially self-proclaimed 'foodies', visit new places to try on a different culture, a different cuisine. While I support and often even embrace that mentality, anyone with dietary restrictions understands how difficult that can be at times. The is particularly the case in countries where diets centre around meat or dairy. So at some point, any traveler following a restrictive diet voluntarily must ask his/her self what are the reasons for eating this way and could there be negative social implications by doing so. Because food is such a central part of our existence as humans, refusing a meal can offend a host, or you might diminish the experience of a place by avoiding a traditional regional dish. Perhaps now you might begin to grasp why, when presented a menu of vegan versions of 'typical' cuisine, I find it difficult to contain my joy and enthusiasm.

This past week I spent in Berlin, the capital of a country known for its love of sausage. While I'm not a huge fan of meat substitutes, I was feeling the deprivation when confronted with some cheesy spätzle (an egg noodle). Luckily, after late nights reporting on a tropical agriculture conference, I was able to tuck in on the last night. We went to an apparently more posh vegan restaurant, Viasko, where spätzle and flammkuchen, a flatbread usually with meats and cheeses, were on the menu. Though I doubt its complete authenticity, the food was tasty (if the service excruciatingly slow), and I felt like I walked away with at least a little taste of Germany.
But now I'm in Scotland, the land of sheep and haggis. Perhaps if I were in Edinburgh, but I am hiking the West Highland Way through and away from the big metropolises. That said, I've been pleasantly surprised by the options: stirfry at the first hostel, authentic Indian curry at this bunk house, but no veggie Scottish fare. I guess I must be satisfied with Scottish oatcakes and jam...
Amendment! My last night on the trail I supped at the Bothy Bar next where I stayed. Veggie haggis burger with chips and pickles on the menu, score!

No comments: