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The Traveler’s Diet

September 8, 2009

It seems that whenever I travel, I always find myself eating the same traveler’s diet, especially when first starting out, consisting of two basic staples: chips and yogurt. Almost anywhere you go, these items are available cheaply and in an assortment of “normal” (i.e. universal/what I’m used to) and “exotic” or local flavors (a good way to slowly ease yourself into the tastes and flavors of your new locale).

Therefore, these are a good option when you’re first arriving, don’t know what any of the foods are (by name or sight), are still figuring out the exchange rate, and are probably on a desperate shopping mission in a local convenience store or supermarket. There’s no mistaking that tube of Pringles or carton of yogurt for anything other than it is. And so, for the first days of my time pretty much anywhere, I find myself feasting almost entirely on chips and yogurt. Yogurt for breakfast, chips for lunch, snacks, and dinner. Though usually I’ll at least try something local for snack or lunch. Yogurt is also beneficial for keeping your digestive system strong and helping you deal with any new types of food you might not be used to.

Really, this traveler’s diet is almost like a signal to myself that I’m traveling, that things are different. I pretty much never eat chips in my normal life, and while I do enjoy yogurt, I don’t eat it every single day, let alone multiple times, like I tend to do on the road.

Thinking about this in the Atlanta airport, I realized that I had unconsciously started to fall back into these eating habits even in the days before I left for my trip. But the truth is, this strange diet was never a conscious decision. I just always seemed to find myself browsing shelves recognizing nothing but a bag of chips. Problem solved. Of course part of traveling is being adventurous and trying new foods, and that’s often one of my favorite things, but it’s nice to have something familiar while you’re adjusting to everything else.

However, being aware of this habit, I stopped myself at the supermarket earlier today. I was holding two yogurts in my hand and realized what I was doing. After much debate, I finally set the yogurts back. I ended up filling a small container with hot food from the kitchen of the market — chicken and rice and veggies. It may not have been a totally Argentinian meal (hey, that’s what the asado is for tonight!) but at least I got the yogurt and chips diet out of my system before my trip this time!


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