You may have noticed that a lot of my blog posts here are about food. Scrolling back through my posts over the past several months, I’m only just realizing how much of what I write is about eating and drinking. Or about everything that surrounds that consumption – be it shopping for perfect produce at supermarkets, getting served food at restaurants by overly friendly waitresses, struggling to finish super-sized servings, or consuming food and drink in all manner of ways, be it it’s double dipping chips, multi-tasking during meals, downing bottomless drinks, or minding your manners with your fork faced down.
It makes me realize just how important food is to place. When you ask an expatriate living abroad what they miss most about home, nine times out of ten they will answer by mentioning some food they can’t get overseas (and yes, that includes Americans complaining about not being able to get good Mexican food abroad). So, when I returned to the US after nearly a decade of living in Europe and Africa, no wonder I’ve been blogging mostly about “comfort foods” that remind me of home, such as macaroni and cheese, cinnamon buns, or peanut butter chocolate.
Conversely, food is a reason for traveling, and an integral part of my experience of any place. Most of my memories of the places I visited are inextricably tied up with my experience of food in that place. For example, when I traveled to Texas for the first time in April, my blog posts that week ended up being all about Texan food: think chicken fried steak and Frito pie (and heart attacks). My memories of my summer in Philadelphia will always be wrapped up in warm-sweet-buttery-salty-tasting pretzels; my year in New York City with pizza by the slice and black and white cookies; and my visit to San Diego with chicken and waffles.
So food and place are one and the same. Food is both the reason you travel and the thing you miss from home. And that is why I am entering the contest to Win A Food Tour of Portugal, which is organized by the APTECE Portugal Food Stories Blog. Because I can’t imagine any better way to see Portugal than to eat my way through it. I expect to eat bacalhau and beyond, snails and seafood, pasteis de belém and galão coffee, feijoada and caldo verde, and plenty of port wine… fingers crossed I’ll be blogging to you about it all from Portugal.