Posted by: Megan | July 19, 2007

Super Size (not) Me!

Being a bit of a fitness junkie, I tend to try and maintain my level of fitness – even when I’m travelling! Generally speaking, this is not hard to achieve given the way I typically take to the road – involving; long hikes and bike rides across high altitude or hot n’ steamy South East Asian terrain!

But on leaving Australia – last November – to go and spend 5 months travelling for work in a “bigger is better” nation – USA … I was scared! Could I maintain my level of fitness on such a journey? Determined in any event not to become victim of a ‘super sizing scenario’ nor an extra of any given sequel to the film Super Size Me – as a result of succumbing to the fast food from beneath the yellow arches!

It wasn’t always that easy though as my work involved constantly being on the road. Food could easily be found –  that was not the problem. Whether or not it was actually considered edible – that was a whole different story! A nation’s food is often representative of its soul – and in some places that aint pretty – as I experienced myself! …

Tempe – Arizona:

Yes Mam“, said Betty – confidently assuring me that the Pita Jungle had “exceptional” food! Convieniently situated next to McDonalds, and a few other (similar) fast food outlets on the long stretch of highway throughout Tempe was non other than Pita Jungle! With little other choice within the nearby vicinity of my hotel – taking Betty’s advice wasn’t hard. In fact – it was a given! Betty acclaiming the food as “exceptional” – in a manner of a food critique – afterwards left me to ponder on whether or not Betty had lived a restricted life to date!

‘Super-Sized’ – in more ways than none, the right arm of my cab driver just 5 minutes into an “I need coffee” crisis slightly crossed my comfort zone as he had it wrapped around the head of the front passenger seat. Even more disturbing though was that his left hand was barely on the steering wheel! You have to question my need for coffee when I found myself hailing a cab and asking to be taken to the nearest Starbucks – anywhere – in the heart of heated cacti land – Arizona! But what was really disturbing was – and great that he was a coffee addict also – his coffee habits – assuring me (in the same confident manner as Betty) that a bucket-sized- peculated-coffee-with-a-full-sized-Hershey’s-chocolate-block-left-to melt-within-it was … good – and the way to drink coffee. While I may have sat there and smiled within, somehow, I knew for the cab driver himself – it was no laughing matter! He was serious!

Minneapolis – Minnesota:

‘Freezing’ hardly described the weather conditions outside – during my second night in Minneapolis. While I knew that cuisine options out there had to be more varied than those on offer at the hotel where I stayed – turning into a slimmer version of Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in an attempt to find out was even less appealing than hanging out with the clientele at the hotel bar! Look, the juke box, pinball machines, and complimentary popcorn all have their place – yet just not in my ideal world! So, I decided to get room service – shame about the fact though that I had to end up walking to the very bar I wanted to avoid in the first place to submit my dinner option as the 304 phone number for room service was out of order! Choosing from a menu of only fried items was a perplexing task – as a healthy individual! My concluding decision from the menu –  to fill an empty stomach – was battered shrimp!  To this day I simply live in hope that it actually was!

Champaign – Illinois:

I rarely eat Mexican food – and not because of any potential post dire consequences! And that said, I rarely laugh during the exchange of money after receiving the bill! But I’m sorry, when I am ‘thanked’ whole heartedly by the waitress for choosing to eat at Chevy Mex – laughing seemed inevitable! The thing was – again – skipping a few more than necessary breathing moments in the midst of a snow blizzard just for hope of a wider expanse of possible similar eating options – along a boulevard of similar chain hotels – was – simply not worth it!


Stories to tell yourself about eating abroad – whether in the USA or elsewhere?  Do tell …

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