Eat to ride, ride to eat – Memories are made of food

(written by Nancy)

We have said many times that travelling by bicycle is a great way to see a country, to learn about its people in their natural environment, often away from the tourist areas, through small towns and villages and rural areas.   Travelling by bicycle generally means saving money on petrol but you do need fuel of a different type.  I’m talking about food, of course.  Cycling long distances on heavy touring bikes means that you need to eat enough food every day to make sure you have enough energy to keep at it in the days that follow.

Food became one of the main focus points during our days on the road.  When we reminisce about a particular country, the food that we ate in that country is often at the top of the list of the things we remember.  This is not surprising, given how important it was to find something decent to eat after a long day on the bike.  But it was not just about nourishment.  Food was one of the main ways we interacted with the people in the countries we visited.  The locals were always interested and eager to tell us about their food, to recommend the local specialty, and cook it for us with pride.  While we couldn’t learn the languages of all of the 20+ countries we rode through we did always try to learn the word ‘delicious’ and used it liberally – it always brought a smile.  And for the most part, it was true, as we rarely had a bad meal.

While the food was often very tasty, we had to get used to eating in places and under conditions that we would have normally found a bit ‘challenging.’  Often it was better just to focus on how good the food tasted and not pay too much attention to the surroundings!  Despite the sometimes sketchy food areas neither of us actually got sick from food in the less-developed areas.  I am not sure that Dave ever got sick, but he seems to have a cast iron stomach so that isn’t really fair, but the times I caught a stomach bug were in the more developed countries, when perhaps we let our guard down or had too much rich food.

Travelling by bicycle means you cannot collect traditional souvenirs to remind you of your travels – no Thai silk shirts, no Turkish rugs (despite the best efforts of the Turkish salesmen), no Austrian leiderhosen.  Food became our souvenir – we tried to find the typical meal in each of the countries we visited and we usually ended up with a favourite meal that we now identify with each country.  On a bike, a country and its food are inseparable, so here are some of our favourite food memories:

Australia – bacon and egg rolls, of course!
Malaysia – nasi lemak (rice with fried chicken, peanuts and a spicy sauce), lots of Chinese food and Indian food – oh, and roti cinai, always a favourite, not just for brekkie.
Thailand – delicious pad thai gai (chicken) from the street stalls, chicken fried rice with egg, thai basil chicken, green curry, iced coffee as a break during a hot ride.
Laos – baguettes and croissants in Vientiane, lap lao (beef/chicken, etc. salad), plus a few not so good food memories like rats on a stick.
Cambodia – fried silk worms, fried spiders and other sundry insects
France – bread, glorious bread!  And croissants, palmiers, chocolates, etc, etc etc…
Italy – pizza, of course, with nice thin crust
Greece – cheese pastries, gyros
Turkey – lahmacun (Turkish pizza), kofta (meatballs), gozleme, ayran (yogurt drink), chai, and the ubiquitous Turkish breakfast
Balkans – Byrek (pastry filled with cheese or meat), great seafood
Central Europe – schnitzel, strudel and lots of things with cheese
Sweden – Swedish meatballs, flatbread, cardamom rolls, Kathie and Gretchen having shrimp sandwiches almost every day, some days twice.
UK – proper full English breakfast, scones with clotted cream and jam (Cream Teas), fish & chips, pasties.

And, sometimes it is not just the food but the setting or the company that makes a food memory for us.  We have lots of those memories so it’s hard to pick but here are a few:

  • Our send-off paella dinner cooked by master chef Ross.
  • Breakfast at the prata restaurant in Singapore with Michael and Sue Lee.  The Asia food education was as valuable as the food tasty.
  • Splashing out at the fancy hotel in Bangkok for Christmas dinner, where we ate turkey, potatoes, pie and all kinds of good familiar food until we were too full to eat any more.
  • Lunch on a restaurant terrace in Entrevaux, the hillside village in France, sitting in the sun while looking up at the hilltop fortress.
  • That great Turkish breakfast we had a truck stop with fried eggs, great bread and honey and cheese – just what we needed after a rough night in a less than glorious hotel.
  • Schnitzel dinner in Bruck Austria after making it across Grossglockner (eg Gobsmacker).
  • Fish and chips sitting by the beach overlooking the Baltic Sea at Kåseberga with Oskar and Julia.
  • Delicious Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes with my sisters at Östermalms Saluhall in Stockholm.

I think we could go on and on with this list as we have had so many memorable meals on this trip.  But, I’ll stop now before this gets too long.  Besides, I’m feeling a little hungry….

Dave’s put together another video of our food exploration.  It can be found by clicking on the video link here – LWOP Food Video on YouTube.

And the slide show for the day contains all 160ish food pictures as well.

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10 thoughts on “Eat to ride, ride to eat – Memories are made of food

  1. What a lovely memory of a amazing trip…. I will be calling for some recipes especially the Cambodian fried silk worms, they will go well in the woodfired oven…. ;-D

  2. I Just read three days worth. What fun. Love the peiople and food pics! I’m going to miss this so much! I guess Pete and I will have to get out more! Looking forward to seeing you when you come to Nevada – save us a few hours!!!

  3. I enjoyed the last 2 LWOP videos. Here couple of ideas for couple more :

    1. Collection of pictures of Nancy riding. This will document some of the terrain you both cycled through.
    2. Collection of best scenery shots.

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