Lunch at the End of the World: On Traveling, Eating, and DaydreamingSerge Bielanko
I’ve always thought that eventually, through some strange twist of fate and no little amount of luck, I was going to push myself away from some table somewhere some night, lean back on the rear legs of my chair, sigh the slow sigh of the satiated, and declare to no one in particular, “That… was the greatest meal I have ever eaten.”
And, I’m still holding out. Believe me.
That’s saying something too, because as a guy who appreciates food and as someone who has done a fair bit of traveling in my time, I’ve been fortunate enough to eat some pretty damn fine feasts in some extraordinary places
I’ve eaten paella in a small Spanish village.
I’ve had wild boar ragout in a Tuscan tavern.
I’ve stood in the wicked winds of a northern England port and used my fresh fish and chips, wrapped tightly in newspaper, as a sort of portable heater before I devoured them.
I’ve had French cheese in France. French wine, too.
I ate a chocolate covered scorpion once in the middle of London, but I guess that wasn’t one of my finer gastronomic moments, really.
Still, as I look back on my life so far, I realize that I have always tried my hardest to ‘dig the local cuisine’ if you will. And I have never ever been unsatisfied. There is something about traveling and eating that go so hand-in-hand. Getting off the proverbial beaten path has become all the rage over the last decade with the success of TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
People have begun to understand that no matter where on Earth you may roam, be it across several continents or just across the road into the next county, our traveling experiences are made richer and more comprehensive, not to mention more memorable, when we include food in our adventures. Unknown regions reveal themselves to us slowly, but by eating what the locals eat, by seeking out and sampling cuisines that are as much a part of the history of any land as anything else, we often find ourselves connecting to something unspoken.
And that’s what traveling is all about, I think.
Plus, once you’ve made that connection, once you’ve gone to a place and figured out that you actually are someone who loves pairing food with your wanderlust, there is no looking back, man.
You are forever hooked.
Me, I’m currently in the middle of a kind of lull, you see. Having two kids over the past couple of years has rendered my wife and me sort of home-bound for a spell. And that’s okay. I mean, I know for certain and for sure that I would not want to be doing much globetrotting with my little ones. Some people might like that, but it would make me mental.
Plus, it gives me something shiny to look forward to, when they are grown older and we can travel again as a family that doesn’t require diaper changes every twenty miles, or just as me and my wife heading out into the world again.
It’s like a light at the end of the tunnel, in that way. I spend a lot of my time daydreaming about where I want to go someday. It helps me. I gets me through stuff.
I want street food in Thailand or India.
I dream of fish and wine in Cinque Terre or the Croatian coast.
I want to drink strong ale in a teensy New Zealand pub.
I want to eat the entire world, or as much of it as I can. And until then, I want to daydream about doing it.
A lot of times these days, when things are chaotic at the house and kids are screeching a hole into the sky, I’ll end up tucking myself away in some corner somewhere and start dreaming/reading about stuff like this Citi Private Pass program, where you can travel to great places and do some pretty amazing stuff. I’ll sit there as World War III is busting out behind me and imagine what it might be like to go on a private tour of Napa Valley vineyards with a world famous wine expert or maybe take part in a meal-of-a-lifetime evening with a renown chef.
The possibilities are endless and that’s what keeps us going in this world, as people who have traveled a bit, or people who are so hungry to travel more.
We sell ourselves on the notion that the best meal of our lives is just beyond that next horizon, that it’s just a little further now, and that it’s all waiting for us there.
And that’s a beautiful thing, if you ask me.