Surviving the Foodie Shock

Happy birthday Mom! For those of you who don't know, my beloved mother turns 47 today! Oh, get over it, age is just a number. At least I think that's what Shakespeare once said.

What are you looking for in a host family? It was the middle of October, I think. I was filling out a questionnaire distributed by the school asking all students partaking in the semester in Spain what they looked for in a family. I'm sure most were interested in the actually living situation. How many pets and siblings will I have? I didn't care about that, I just wanted to be able to keep up my relatively OCD diet.

For the most part, I live alone in Charlotte. I had a few great roommates this past semester (Hi Matt & Matt) but neither were interested in cooking for me or making sure I was well fed. That was my job. I enjoyed scavenger hunts around the city every weekend looking for the grocery store with the cheapest apples. I enjoy playing Gordon Ramsay five times a day in my cramped kitchen. I can't tell you how many times I ate quinoa and chicken during that fall semester. Not enough!

In all honesty though, I'm crazy when it comes to food! I stay well away from added sugars and have a five foot restraining order against all sodas. White bread is the devil and pizza will nearly kill you upon digestion. It's sad but I enjoy it. Instead of going out with friends to cheap fast food restaurants, I offer to cook and treat them to a deep fried-less picnic in their humble abode. Sounds marvelous, right?

Before embarking on this journey to Spain I forced myself to take a step back. I was not going to be that backseat chef and spend nights questioning if that pasta I consumed a few hours earlier was wheat or not. I was not going to do it! I would roll with the punches. Whatever was put in front of me, I'd do my best to consume it all and enjoy the food, like the billions of other normal humans on this earth. Remember, I'm the abnormal one. However, no one said ever I didn't have a sly plan to manipulate the eating situation into my favor though...

Step 1: Upon arriving in Spain, find the local grocery store and scout the isles for healthy alternatives to what you may be eating. Purchase the healthiest box of cereal possible (In this case, bran flakes was the winner) in case an omelette is not the routine breakfast in Spain (It's not). 

Step 2: Ignore the white bread on the dinner table that's glaring back at you as if your in a heated staring contest. When asked why your not eating the bread, explain politely (In Spanish of course) that white bread just doesn't sit well with you. Expect to see a loaf of wheat or multi-grain on the table the next night.

Step 3: Somehow explain, without a doctor's note, that you're lactose intolerant and that more than a slice of cheese a day will cause excessive vomiting. I understand that this won't make much sense as milk will be served with cereal and I brought home a lifetime supply of greek yogurt. Yet, just give it a try. You're stupidity may throw your family off. Voicing "No me gusta mucho queso" also seems to be a perfect response to any overly cheesy dish.

Step 4: Serve yourself dessert. This is extremely important. Also, it better be that container of artificial sugarless greek yogurt as nothing else will suffice. If these directions are not followed closely, you'll be stuck eating pudding topped with a soggy cracker every night of the week. You don't want that, trust me.

After a little over a week here, I admit the food has progressively been better. I haven't seen those dreaded cheese filled hot dogs in days and every meal has been leaps and bounds better than that dog food that was served on the plane. Wheat bread is now a staple at the dinner table and greek yogurt is served every night for dessert. My lame excuse that I'm deathly allergic to onions doesn't fly over here but I'm a big boy, I'll get over it.