There’s No Taste Like Home
Last week marked our three month anniversary on the road, traveling through Central America as part of a trip around the world. While Heather and I consider ourselves extremely lucky to be able to see and experience so many amazing destinations, staying on the move and living out of a backpack the past 100 days has left us missing a number of things from home. When we’re feeling a little homesick, or craving a little familiarity, one of the things we often find ourselves indulging in is good old-fashioned comfort food. Sometimes, there really is no “taste” like home.
As I’ve discussed before, I consider trying new foods and challenging my senses one of the many joys of travel. During these first few months on the road, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sampling local delicacies, from the weird to the wonderful. Along the way, I’ve also surprised myself by discovering delicious new dishes I would have normally never encountered. No doubt, some of these will be favorites I continue to enjoy back home after the trip.
Despite all this, there are days when none of the local options sound particularly appetizing, and my stomach craves something less exciting. For better or worse, American comfort food of some sort or another can be found in nearly every part of the world. Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, french fries, candy bars, soda and potato chips are almost always present, providing an unhealthy outlet for such cravings. Oddly enough, these foods are generally ones I have little interest in at home – things I take for granted and consider boring. Far away in a foreign country, though, these inexplicably turn into things I find myself enjoying, comforted by the familiarity of food in an otherwise unfamiliar setting.
While popular American food items have spread almost everywhere, there are some things much harder to find. Entire businesses have been built to provide travelers and expats with their fix of things like peanut butter, beef jerky, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, maple syrup, and canned pumpkin. Desperate customers buy these everyday items at a premium to satisfy random cravings, remind themselves of home, or celebrate holidays with traditional foods. It’s amazing how things like a good spoonful of chicken soup can bring you right back to your Mom’s kitchen table or how odd Thanksgiving Day feels without turkey and stuffing.
During a previous period of my life where I spent a lot of time overseas, I developed an intense craving for an iced coffee drink from an American food chain which was not available outside the country. This drink was something I had enjoyed often before leaving, and something I found myself dreaming about during my time away. Immediately upon my return home – literally, on the way back from the airport – I ordered one of these drinks. To my surprise, I found it sickeningly sweet and completely unlike I had remembered it. The craving was gone, along with my interest in drinking something I had enjoyed so many times before.
Of course, cravings are not just for travelers. Those of us that have consciously adapted our eating habits and changed our diets have likely experienced the urge to eat foods we’ve cut out or items we remember from our childhoods. As scary as these random cravings might seem, they are completely natural and generally harmless. So don’t be afraid to indulge the infrequent desire for something “naughty” and comforting – you may even find your tastes have since changed.
Do you have cravings for comfort foods?
Calorie Count co-founder Erik Fantasia and his girlfriend, Heather Curtis, are currently traveling through Central America as part of a trip around the world. You can follow their adventures online with Facebook and their blog.