When first planning The Trip, we had a lot of reservations about our ability to travel too deeply or at all in Asia and Africa. Matt has a plethora of food allergies that make traveling on those continents considerably more difficult than in the Americas or Europe. All nuts, All seafood, all sesames. All allergies.
At the time of planning, neither of us realized how far the western touch has reached. While most would say that this touch has not been a good thing for many reasons, I have to see it as a positive thing. It has allowed my husband and I to go to places he wouldnt have been able, for physical reasons, to ever go. We figured in most places where its pretty urban and touristy, we’d at least find a McDonalds. (Which would later be dubbed “Beacons of Hope”) But for an extended time, a burger-and-fries diet is hardly a healthy way to travel. This also applies to buckets and buckets of steamed rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Without finding some additional meal options, traveling would have been too difficult.
Bali joined the itinerary shortly before we booked our OneWorld RTW ticket. We knew in the tourist areas, Western food was a given, but elsewhere we’d be SOL. It was only later on in the trip, in Pokhara to be exact, that other travelers made it abundantly clear how completely misinformed we were. Im not sure how that happened since I researched a multitude of traveling issues extensively, but we were under the impression that Southeast Asia was the stuff of a pipes dreams for a pasta and sandwich eater. I can quite proudly say I have never been more wrong in my life. That shiz is everywhere! Pasta. Pasta Sauce. Club Sandwiches. Burgers. Pizza. Everywhere. Even in the most remote of places, we could always rely on either the backpacker ghetto or the most commercial mall on the block. Its actually possible that theres more western food in Asia than there is in NYC. (It seems every other restaurant in Manhattan these days is Thai)
I *will* say that Asia was NOT a culinary expedition. For Matt. He got to live it up in Argentina and Chile and Greece, but whence arriving in China, his foodie dreams were dashed. [Just as a side note, Nepal is not counted here. Nepal is a landlocked country where fish is extremely rare, nuts are not a common meal ingredient, and sesame is not used in traditional fare. Matt ate dal bhat every day, probably twice a day from October 17th to November 23rd.] China, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia challenged his abilities to include eating as a part of learning a culture as well as challenged his understanding of exactly what constitutes a club sandwich.
I am a good wife, but I am somewhat of a foodie as well. It wouldn’t be fair to the idea of slow travel to not have experienced Asian cooking for myself. It would also not be fair to ditch my husband for meals and go off to find the best noodle stand or dumplings. We were happy to find that I could easily get local favorites at all the western restaurants. Though maybe not the best specimens of local cuisine, it was local nonetheless and good enough for me. Having Matt across the table made all the difference. Although, there was no one that could have made the above pizza taste any better. Not Matt. Not I. But maybe using cheese could have though.