Going abroad anytime soon? The Euro scene loves to have Americans overseas to share in the musical bliss. But before you cross the Atlantic here are some helpful food tips to help your trip be an enjoyable food journey & one that keeps you from getting sick!
Rick Steves...heard of him? Ahh, yes, the gent with all the travel videos, large glasses, and quirky mid-western sense of humor. I adore him or rather his travel sense. Rick Steves has a great website geared towards jet setting over to Europe. Under restaurant tips he points out:
To find a good restaurant, ask your hotel receptionist, or head away from the tourist center and stroll around until you find a place with a happy crowd of locals. I look for menus (usually posted outside), handwritten in the native language and offering a small selection. This means they’re cooking what was fresh in the market that morning for loyal, return customers. If no menu is posted, ask to see one. And be aware the word “menu” can mean a fixed-price meal, particularly in France and Italy. What we call the menu in the US usually goes by some variation on the word “card” in Europe — for instance, “la carte” in French, “Speisekarte” in German, and so on.
Many small eateries offer an economical “menu of the day” (known as “menu del dia” in Spain, “plat du jour” in France, “menu del giorno” in Italy, and variations on “dagens rett” in Scandinavia). These are sometimes limited to early seatings — usually before 7:30 p.m. In Great Britain and Ireland, look for early-bird dinner specials, allowing you to eat well and affordably, but early (about 5:30 to 7 p.m.).
Speaking of hours, restaurants and pubs in Europe don’t usually serve meals throughout the day. They’re typically closed late afternoon (about 2 p.m. until dinner starts). In between meals, you’ll find plenty of snack bars happy to feed you.
To save money at restaurants, order smartly. Main dishes are often big enough to split. Add a bowl of soup or something small to supplement. Don’t worry about coming off as cheap — prices are high for Europeans, too. Waiters are generally understanding and accommodating. But be careful in France, where splitting meals at restaurants can be frowned upon. Instead, head for a café, where it’s perfectly acceptable to split meals or order just a salad or sandwich, even for dinner.
You can read more here!
Even better is his tip sheet on Eating Out in Europe, where he highlights some key points on the “Do’s & Don’ts” when foraging for food in Europe. Never had blood sausage?? Well, there’s always a first!
For breakfast, most places offer a light arrangement of muesli, boiled eggs, lunch meats, cheese, croissants, and fruit. Peanut butter is not something you will find easily throughout Europe, so if you crave it–bring your own! Lunch is usually a larger meal for many, especially those in Spain, Portugal and Italy where stores close mid-day for everyone to feast. Restaurants are open at this time, but then often close until dinner hours (7pm or later). If you are touring throughout the day opt for a quick trip to an open market and pick up fresh fruit, meats, cheese, and bread & snack along the way. Dinners can be rather late, as many European countries keep later hours than Americans. Just note, most places offer “American-ized” food picks; however, be wary of “vegetarian” meals (they often have meat in some capacity) and don’t worry when you see cheese & meats out at room temperature for prolonged periods of time…or perhaps you should!
Speaking of which, let’s keep your gut healthy and touch on some things you should consider:
- Stay hydrated. Drink copious amounts of WATER on the flight over. It’s a long journey & flying can be dehydrating. Although the wine is free in flight it’s smart to shoot back some water in between each glass!
- Start probiotics a week before you travel. Generally, I recommend most of my athletes and clients to start taking probiotics daily for 3-5 weeks (1 week prior, during, and following your trip–a week or two once you return). Eating more fermented foods while abroad is smart, but I still recommend taking in your bugs!
- Vitamin C to ward off colds. Yes, I know the jury is still out on all of the evidence supporting this, but I’m a believer in the daily dose of 500mg of Vitamin C. Emergen C is great for the trip, because it will get you to drink more water!
- Set your sleep clock. If you arrive during the day sleep on the flight so you can stay awake upon your arrival, if you arrive at night stay awake so you can sleep upon arrival. That’s to start. You may need to carry melatonin to help get some zzzz’s, especially since tart cherries are not readily available for consumption and recovery. (smile) Sleep can impede performance, so where you can catch up on your shut-eye-time do so!
- Bring back up snacks. Pack your favorite “standbys” like peanut butter, bars, and powdered drink mixes. Not all towns have such products…actually, most do not. My favorite peanut treats to take along with me are Justin’s Nut Butters–especially the single serving packs. They lay flat in my pack & are easy to transport! Fig Newtons, instant oats, pretzels, & animal crackers are light and easy to pack, too!
- Need a shot of caffeine? The Cafe Vias from Starbucks are perfect for the road and for that quick jolt of caffeine while traveling. You can find big boxes of these at Costco or Sams Club, too!
Just Wendy Jo