It’s quite easy when you are at home or at work to stick to your eating habits, control your cravings and follow your so called healthy eating routine or diet plan. The question arises when you go on vacation and you are subjected to different food experiences and temptations. Do you give in and embrace the experience or do you resist to stay on track ?
On my recent trip to Spain touring various cities and visiting exciting places, I experienced the Spanish culture in all its dimensions from history, language, music, art, fashion to the most pleasurable… food. Many people say you can’t really experience another culture without eating their authentic food, experiencing their special dishes and savouring every flavour.
That’s a true statement.
The Spanish cuisine has an array of delicious Mediterranean dishes and authentic experiences. From their famous rice dish Paella with seafood, chicken or meat, to their fried anchovies, grilled squid and sardines and array of delicious salads. They have cute looking Tapas, which are smaller portions of various Spanish dishes, each with a different taste and flavour making you want to experience them all. Freshly baked bread and olives are put on your table, to go with the Gazpacho, a deliciously fresh cold salad tasting soup. The well known dish Patatas Bravas, hot fried potatoes with a special dipping sauce you can’t miss. Brie cheese is widely used melted on a pizza or in sandwiches with spinach. You can’t leave without experiencing their amazing rich hot Chocolate con Churros, which you dip in making it melt in your mouth.
Can you resist any of these tastes and flavours and truly experience the Spanish culture and cuisine with all its glory?
Looking at the dishes more closely, there is somehow a balance of what you might call healthy and unhealthy. It is still under the umbrella of the so called Mediterranean diet with its healthy fresh ingredients like olive oil, olives, fish, seafood, cheese, vegetables and salads. What I would label as unhealthy would be the fried food and anything processed or refined and if it is not authentically Spanish then there is no need to it eat.
One of the main factors to truly experience the Spanish cuisine and guarantee that you are eating good quality food is the place you choose to eat in. I would eat Patatas Bravas and freshly baked bread in a truly authentic restaurant where you know it’s been cooked like home made food. I have had some bad experiences and some great ones, it is part of the learning process but you have to eat, taste and experience to know and not resist but embrace.
In my opinion, eating should be a pleasure and not a guilt especially while on vacation, it’s part of the fun and journey. I also believe in walking it off so if you overindulge, take a good long walk and keep moving. It was tempting to walk the streets of Spain along its beautiful parks, narrow alleys, mountain paths with its lovely weather and truly experience the cities and people finding treasures along the way.
Finally, we should reclaim our right to eat whatever we want plus enjoying what we want removes the desire to cheat or overeat. We need to find out what truly nourishes our palate and our body and eat it without depriving ourself. One of the main factors in eating what you want while keeping control unintentionally, is to bask in the experience, chew slowly, eat mindfully and notice each flavour and sensation, trust in your body’s signals, and embrace your pleasure and satisfaction.
I believe life is a series of keeping control and letting go and the same applies to food. You need to get off track, experience, enjoy and learn, to get back on track.
So when in Spain do like the Spanish do… Eat with pleasure.