I’m writing this week from North Carolina, site of my family reunion. We’ve all come together to celebrate my cousin’s wedding in Atlanta, and then all made the trek up to Highlands, NC, where my grandfather lived for the last 30 years of his life. Growing up, the family would organize these get-togethers about once every two years, and we’d all come to this small little mountain town to see one another and to see him. He passed away in 2004, but we have maintained the tradition (albeit less frequently) since then.
It’s been a great trip — seeing family that I haven’t seen in several years, reconnecting, enjoying a wonderful wedding celebration, and eating lots, and lots, and lots of good southern food. Too much southern food. Too much food period. Biscuits and gravy in the mornings, buffets of fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, and fried catfish in the afternoons, BBQ in the evenings. It’s all been tasty, and with a much higher than normal amount of insulin my blood sugar is surviving, but I feel like my stomach is made out of cement at this point.
All of these meals have been predicated on the “well, we’re on vacation, and when will we get this kind of food that’s this good again?” line of reasoning. But it’s really reached its limit, I think. And it brings up a good question — how do you travel, enjoy SOME of the local food, but avoid feeling the way we all do today? That’s my mission for the rest of this trip. I’ll let everyone know next week how successful I am with it, but here are my thoughts on what might make sense (all based on what I have NOT been doing up to this point in the trip…)
1. Have the ribs, but share them…or get the smaller size…just, for God’s sake, don’t get the half rack with two sides AND the corn bread!
I hate asking for special requests on menus. Maybe it’s left over trauma from my early days of living on the old Regular insulin, where you had to tailor every meal to your insulin, rather than matching your insulin to the meal. Whatever the reason, I have this weird instinct to avoid asking for less food on my plate, or swapping out the corn bread for some green beans (which, down here, are still cooked with brown sugar, salted pork, and a lot of salt, but there’s GOT to be something on the menu that’s at least moving in the right direction).
But asking for accommodations at a restaurant is NOT something we need to avoid! If I’m paying $12 to $18 for my plate, I SHOULD ask them to tailor it to what I really want and what my body really wants to deal with. So that’s my first resolution for the rest of this trip. If we’re back at a BBQ place again, I’ll get the small, I’ll swap out the unnecessary calories, and hopefully walk out of the place feeling like doing something other than napping!
2. You’re not missing the Mona Lisa!
So the other thing that seems to kick in on vacation is the compulsion to try EVERY single bit of food that crosses my path because that food can’t be found back home. As if eating that third helping of biscuits and gravy is the equivalent to witnessing the Mona Lisa! It’s biscuits and gravy — good food, sure. But not a work of art.
Again, based on what I have NOT been able to do thus far in the vacation: I plan to stop treating every bit of southern cooking as if it’s a museum piece in the Louvre that I won’t be able to revisit again until I can raise the funds for two round-trip tickets to Paris. Collard greens are good; they aren’t THAT good.
Anyone else have good tips for how to deal with food on special occasions, vacations, and other “special” circumstances? Share them in the comments, and wish me luck righting the ship for the rest of this trip through the south!