I met fellow hop-head Brian Yaeger at a local beer tasting about a year ago at San Francisco's world-famous Jug Shop because I overheard someone in his group say something about Isla Vista. "Did you say Isla Vista?"
You know how it goes, you're not paying any attention but all of a sudden you pick up a poignant word out of the background noise and your attention follows. There is a real psychological term that describes the phenomenon, the Cocktail Party Effect; it was first coined in 1953 by Colin Cherry. Anyways...
So, Isla Vista is this very-little town, for which I have very-fond memories of, and we both used to live there. We got to talking, mostly about beer, but also his book, Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey. He tells me that he traveled cross-country going to all these great micro-breweries and wrote a book about it.
If I remember correctly, I muttered something like, "You bastard! That's so cool." - We have since sipped a slurry of suds together and I more recently asked him for an interview. Here's what transpired:
Me: Let's get this straight, you wrote a book about beer?
Brian: Yes, I wrote a book and that book is about beer. Mostly.
I just got back from a business trip and although I'm not the healthiest eater to begin with (I eat whatever looks good) things go downhill when I'm on the road. The fact is, when you're in novel surroundings you don't know where to pick up a healthy bite - and that gets compounded by the truth that when you take clients out to entertain, you don't end up going out for salad.
Ever since the airlines stopped providing meals, I've been eating so much better on the plane. I bring my own sandwich, mayo and everything. The poor airlines were ridiculed for their food anyway, I can't understand why they're now condemned for stopping food service. Now, you get what you want because you brought it.
At least most airlines provide snack boxes for a nominal charge if you're famished. It's not like they're charging to use the bathroom or anything crazy like that... Wait wait, what? (from ABC7 Chicago) "The CEO of Ryanair says he has asked engineers at Boeing to design bathrooms with doors that open and close only if you swipe a credit card."
Continuing on, besides bringing my own sandwich on the plane, I often carry a bag of nuts. Crunchy, salty, and protein rich - nuts satiate very well. I also always have some sugar-free gum on hand also to keep my breath in check. 101 Cookbooks recommends not only nuts but in their article Healty Eating While Travelling, they also suggest:
"I pack three apples and a pound of nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds"
I found another article about eating while travelling that I think takes it a little too far. We'll keep them anonymous. They recommend:
Stick to fruits that can be peeled immediately before eating.
Cooked vegetables are safe, but avoid salads.
Drink only bottled water. Avoid tap water and ice cubes in risky regions.
Teeth should be brushed with bottled water.
Don't eat unpasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese.
No matter how tempting, avoid street vendors.
Exotic fruits are one of life's grandest and most primeval pleasures. There is nothing more fantastic than a fruit you have never eaten before. Abstaining from unpasteurized dairy products? A life without cheese is a life not worth living. Avoid street vendors? You've got to be crazy! That is the essence of a culture's cuisine!
In my opinion, finding something nutritious to eat can be an adventure!
I shifted gears a little here from "dining on the road" to "dining on a road" but I have two tips I want to share. Granted, I may have an iron stomach - but these are my cardinal rules I stick to while dining "a la cart" (street vendors, get it?):
"If the place is busy, people are not dropping dead from dining here."
"If you are unsure about the food, don't fill up on it."
Two reasons. One, this allows your stomach acid to dispose of many of the harmful bacteria before they enter your lower intestine. Two, if there's "bad" stuff, you consume less of it.
It is March already and I'm wondering how the expert's predictions are panning out. Here is a list of several food trends that were going to be HUGE in 2009 from Gourmet, Bon Appetit, News Wire Today, The Appetizer, Epicurious, and NPR. To keep things interesting, those trends that appeared in more than one article I put in bold.
Some themes appear with regularity; 1) the economy of dining out and eating, 2) food becoming more healthy and sustainable, and 3) a lean towards more rustic and comforting dishes. Some are quite specific (like Pisco Sours), others are pretty vague (like Health).
Which do you think are going to have the biggest impact on what we eat this year?
Gourmet (12/8/2008) Home cooking - Comforting recipes - Cooking classes - Prix Fixe menus - Big beans - Goat's and sheep's milk ice cream - Neutrceuticals - Probiotics - Yogurt - "Bitter blockers" for cocktails - Small distillers - Made in the USA labels - Pre-amuse amuse-bouche - Salvadoran - Dominican - Korean - Indian - Ecologically responsible
Bon Appetit via the Huffinton Post (12/9/2008) "Dinner Party of the Year -- Luxury for Less," "Dessert of the Year -- Peanut Butter Desserts," "Restaurant Trend of the Year -- Breakfast," "Destination of the Year -- Lima, Peru," "Ingredient of the Year -- Ricotta," "Cuisine of the Year -- New Southern," "Wine Trend of the Year -- Great Bargain Bottles"
News Wire Today (12/11/2008) Comfort food - Scratch cooking and home baking - British - Less protein - Head to tail - Sustainable meat and fish - Changing drinking habits - Thirst for food skills and knowledge - Restaurant and farm alliances - More miniaturisation - More customisation - Health
The Appetizer (12/11/2008) Eating local - Probiotics - The Cocktail - Acai - Sweet Potato Fries - Fast Food - Charcuterie - Molecular Gastronomy - Small Portions - Cheap Cuisine
Epicurious (12/1/2008) by James Oliver Cury "Value" is the new "Sustainable" - The Compost Pile is the new Flower Garden - Peruvian is the new Thai - Noodle Bars are the new Sushi Joints - Ginger is the new Mint - Smoking is the new Frying - Regional Roasters are the new Starbucks - Portland (Maine) is the new Portland (Oregon) - Rustic Food is the new Molecular Gastronomy - "Top-Rated" is the new "Critic's Pick"
NPR FOOD (1/11/2009) interview with Bonny Wolf Dining on the cheap -lower prices - bar menus - fixed-price meals - more a la carte options - flexible hours - dishes that can be shared - breakfast-all-day - cooking classes - [comfort foods] mashed potatoes - meat loaf spaghetti and meatballs - sophisticated twists - bring back the the family dinner - kitchens will become "greener" - charcuterie platters - bite-sized desserts - Peruvian cuisine - Pisco sours - noodle bars - anything with an egg on - bargain wines