You know I can’t tell my stories about vacation without including a post about food. I knew before we left our driveway that I was going to be visiting two great cooks. And I knew I had to traverse a minefield of dietary dangers before arriving safely at our destination. So I began our road trip with a bit of trepidation- not about maintaining a pescetarian diet, but about maintaining a healthy pescetarian diet.
America’s highways abound with gastronomical temptations. Every city promotes its fine restaurants, every wide spot in the road has a DQ, and every travel center now includes a fast-food franchise. The southern route to California is mostly boring, followed by more boring. The desert is beautiful up close, but has little charm after the first one hundred miles at 75mph. Plus, Gary and I have traveled this route at least twenty times. I promise you I can identify some of the major rock formations from my childhood trips! So the solution is to talk, listen to music, and/or snack to stay alert. I alleviated most of our snack problems by packing snacks at home. We also carried our own water. Our only purchase at the travel centers was coffee.
Breakfast isn’t much of a problem while traveling. I packed a couple of boxes of breakfast bars. Most motels now include a breakfast. Even fast-food places have healthy options for the first meal of the day. I can eat breakfast almost anywhere, and just pray that the salt content doesn’t kill me.
Lunch is another story altogether. The fast food industry just doesn’t get the concept of healthy vegetarian. So even restaurants that serve veggie burgers or veggies subs or bean burritos or spinach quesadillas feel an obligation to load them up with twice as much salt and fat as necessary. I had to accept that as a given for the duration of our vacation and just not worry about it. My goal was to pick the best option on the menu and enjoy the trip.
Dinners at restaurants are a little easier for me since I eat fish and seafood. My diet is not based on political or philosophical leanings, only a need to keep my cholesterol and blood pressure as low as possible. Both numbers are alarming if I eat the “normal American diet”. So I find myself with several dinner options at almost any establishment. Even at Gianni’s Pizza in Monterey I was able to order a veggie calzone. My only complaint was the size of it- literally the width of a dinner plate.
Which brings me to an observation about portion size- it is totally out of control!! Every restaurant where we dined had large plates, large servings, and large prices! I have an almost phobic aversion to reheating leftovers, and I’m not about to accept a “doggie bag”, especially while traveling, so a good serving of food automatically goes to waste. Plus, if I pay $15 for something I’m tempted to eat all of it to “get my money’s worth” or I waste $ by eating only half of it. I think portion control is at least 60% of the foundation of a healthy diet so we really need to make some industry changes here.
Gary and I spent a couple of evenings eating salads and fruit in our motel room, thanks to a local Walmart. Sometimes it is a relief to get away from restaurants and just relax in front of the television with ordinary food.
In California I was treated to the culinary delights of homemade biscotti, grilled seafood, frozen tiramisu cake, fresh artichokes, blackberry cobbler, corn casserole, and homemade jam. My daughter Karen and my friend Marilyn are both excellent cooks. I’m sure if I stayed too long at either home I would have some issues, especially with the wonderful sweets. But I’m thankful that both accommodated my salt restrictions.
I returned from vacation two pounds lighter than when I left. So I suppose it is possible to survive the perils of road food. I just know that after two weeks of eating “out there” and making some tough daily decisions, I have a new appreciation for my own kitchen and commonplace food.