The other day I was catching the Greyhound bus from La Crosse, Wisconsin, to my next destination when a very talkative woman eased herself into the seat next to me. In ten minutes she had given me every small detail of her life, how old all of her seventeen grandchildren were (along with photographs of them drawn from her handbag), related her three divorces, and otherwise told me far too much about her rather colourless self. Including the fact that she was an erstwhile self-published author and “artist.”
Then came the inevitable, very American question: ‘So, I looooooove your accent. What do you do?’
‘I’m a travel writer’, I told her.
‘Oh, really!’ she shrieked. ‘What is your favorite part of the world?’
‘As a point of fact, madam’, I said, struggling to remain civil, ‘I just returned from Paris’.
At this, her eyes took on a dreamy artistic hue. ’Ah, Pareeeeee’, she cooed, affecting a French accent and sounding more the glottal German in the process. ’I just love that city. Tell me about the food. What did you have? Where did you eat? Did you take in some five-star restaurants’?
Opening a packet of crisps, I slipped the corner of one into my mouth and bit slowly. I was going to drag this one out a bit. ’Actually, I mostly ate at McDonald’s and Burger King.’
‘Oh’, she said, and dismissed me. Just like that, I was able to retreat from the conversation and be back alone with my thoughts, with the music from my iPod, and my anonymity.
Nothing, I have found, nothing in this world will deflect attention from one faster than claiming that one is a bloody pillock when it comes to gourmet food. When one is knackered of questions about the native foods of the areas one visits, it will shut one’s auditors right up. So perhaps I had gone a bit far. Yes, I do in fact sample many of the native foods along the way. But that is a sidelight to the main show, and I don’t care for food enough to talk about it.
Take for example the time I spent in South America. I am glad to have found that video clip below, because it taught me how to say the one thing I needed most to say whenever I went to a roadside stand and someone did a bodge job of my food.
But ultimately, what is so wrong with traveling for the fun of the trip, with being less than adventurous with the foods one encounters? Why risk bloody indigestion and who knows what else when there is a handy Subway along the way? We live in a world far too enamoured with the new, the different, the exotic, in my opinion. But if the plain and simple were not after all the best, why have all the American fast food companies taken over the world? They have made it very easy for one to eat well no matter where one is. And as for me, food is my last thought. I rarely eat more than once a day, if at all. I find eating to be a colossal bore.
It puts me in mind of the Internet and writing, as these travel musings often do. One of my very favorite websites in the world is The Dullest Blog in the World. This site bears no presumptions, makes no claim to be more than what it is. I believe that we had just better have it out right now, admitting that most of us do in fact live plain lives in which ‘A window was slightly open. I decided that I did not need it to continue to be so. I closed it and securing it using the window handles.’ That entry alone garnered 146 comments so far. So do not tell me that I am the only person living in this world with a philosphy of life so coloured.
In short, I travel for the love of it. But since I am travelling for the love of the move and not for the love of the food, I prefer to restrict my comestible perenigrations to the occasional noshing on normal food.