On waking up I realize that my nutrition has been abysmal ever since I got to Europe. I have not yet had one decent meal in two weeks and what passes for meals has been getting worse over time. In Paris we ate Chinese which was reasonably good but since we left that city the only food weíve come across is picnic fare: bread, some cheese and cold cuts which are easy to make. Where I can Iíve bought juice, usually of inferior quality oddly enough, and when I canít find even low grade juice I drink soda. And because Europe has not yet discovered ice for drinks oftentimes this means what I do drink is lukewarm which I find disgusting and so drink as little as possible.
In Italy, particularly traveling through the small towns, it has dawned on me that there is very difficult to find anything to eat unless you want pizza. There are oodles of pizzerias but have yet to find, though Iíve by now passed seemingly hundreds of little towns, a single fast food joint or any eating establishment other than a pizza-slash-bar. Thatís not exactly true. There are also some gas stations, particularly Esso (aka Exxon in the states) that have a sandwich counter and a drink section which is mildly refrigerated but carries what for me is undrinkable fruit sodas of the lowest quality and alcoholic drinks. Yes, wine and beer aplenty at gas stations. Go figure. Either way, Iím sick of pizzas and sandwiches whether of the self-prepared from supermarket sort or the ones made for you sitting behind a glass counter. I crave the Chinese slop Iím so accustomed to seeing back home. Here, outside of a major metropolitan area it would be unheard of. Mexican? How about Thai? Oh Ha Ha Ha. Thatís funny.
So, with all that food thinking I get on my way and go to the nearest gas station where I dutifully order a sandwich and nearly lukewarm lemon soda. Thereís breakfast.
Ok so where to today? I look at the map and decide to head straight north and start making my way out of Italy if for no other reason than to find something decent to eat before I die of malnourishment. One thing I refuse to do is drive on the Autostrada, the Italian highway system, because the tolls are murderously expensive. So I carefully plan my routes through little towns on secondary roads and can spend an entire day driving to not get very far due to the small, winding roads. But nevertheless I find a certain charm in driving the un-rushed back country.
I wind up after a particularly uneventful day at a town called Sulmona which is in the mid-Italian ski resort region. This hotel has wireless connectivity. In the lobby only. At E1.50 per hour. Nice. Oh well, I bite the bullet and check in then go to a nearby supermarket, the first that I would agree with the name. In the states weíre used to having Home Depot-sized supermarkets in every town. In Olympia where I live we have *three* such supermarkets each in one corner of an intersection. In Italy what passes for a Ipermercato (that being the superlative version of a mere supermarket) would rate as a small grocery store by our standards with their Supermercatos being no bigger or better stocked than our average convenience store. The smallest are the Alimentari which would be akin to the food sections in our gas stations. Of course, Italians get the last laugh for nowhere do I see fat people ;-)
And another thing. They handily beat even our best-stocked supermarkets when it comes to their selection of cheeses. In fact, they have so many different kinds of cheeses that they are found all over the store tucked away wherever there is space. And the quality. Jesus, there is a mind-melting number of different cheeses. None of that Kraft and Velveeta bagged shredded or sliced shit we get in the states. These are all giant slices of locally made good, good stuff at heart-rendingly low prices. Why canít we have this eh? Why??
Anyway, Iím getting side tracked. So I go into the townís supermarkets and this time I skip the cold cuts and pick up some tuna fish cans and take my chances with their juice cartons which while I know beforehand will take like crap itís nonetheless gotta be better than drinking Pepsi all day long.
And with that I went back to the hotel and had a picnic of tuna fish, bread and mozzarella balls. Not bad. Well, except for the Koolaid-grade juice but Iím trying to be positive here, okay?