27th November 2011

Problems when Travelling

Italy is a great country for vegetarians: there is plenty of pasta with cheese, pizzas abound, and this is the country that invented the gelato! For vegans the situation isn’t as bright. There are dishes like pasta aglio e olio, a dish very pure in taste in which olive oil and garlic are run through spaghetti, perhaps with chilli or finely chopped parsley, but this will probably replicate the nutrition you received from the white bread you had for breakfast. And the difficulties vegans experience in a country like Italy will be shared by vegetarians in areas where fish seems to come with everything, such as Scandinavia and Japan.

How to deal with this? There are sometimes vegetarian restaurants, often with an organic angle, that one can visit, but these tend to be up-market places for special occasions. Otherwise, it’s often possible to dive into a Chinese or Indian restaurant where there will probably be veggie food. Another alternative is buying dry food at a supermarket. Or one can decide to eat non-veggie food just to get by.

None of these choices strikes me as perfect. It seems somehow disrespectful to the culture of a country like Italy to be eating Asian food there.  Sitting on a hotel bed eating peanuts is no-one’s idea of a fun time. And surely the reasons that led one to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet apply wherever one happens to be.

I’d be very interested in the opinions of readers of this posting, and it will be possible to make comments for some time after it has been posted.

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27th November 2011

Cafeteria Chef Express

Termini Railway Station, Rome

Self-service cafeterias at train stations can be sad places full of sad people, but not this one! As you enter you help yourself to a fresh bread roll, and might then turn to the right, where there is a stand with cooked vegetables, including potatoes fried in olive oil seasoned with thyme, and the oily aubergine so often a feature of Mediterranean cooking. To the left is a salad bar where the choices of include lima beans, beautiful tomatoes and greens. There are dishes of pasta with tomatoes and cheese mixed in, and a fruit salad bar where you can ladle as much fresh fruit as you can handle into a bowl. On the way out there is water and wine, while in the eating area are bottles of virgin olive oil and vinegar to splash over your meal. And just in case you think you are in a cafeteria at the train station, in one corner is a grand piano you may be lucky enough to hear played!

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