I’m not a picky eater. Yes, I have strange eating habits and yes, I refuse to eat a certain number of foods, but that doesn’t make me picky. In truth, I’m willing to eat just about anything, but when you have habits like mine and your on an extended stay in a foreign country well, things can get interesting.

While I was in college I went on a study abroad trip to Italy. We were there for two months and –as you’ve probably guessed–we had to fend for ourselves when it came to meals. This was a problem for me for two reasons. First, I have gag issues. Certain foods or textures cause a retching reaction. Forget about swallowing. No gold at the end of the rainbow, no $200 for passing go, I simply gag and have to spit it out–usually into the nearest trash can. I quickly discovered that food over there could be rather different. Their bread was ridiculously thick and coated in this strange butter like substance. I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t eat it unless it was wrapped around something and the bread itself had been toasted. That only worked for so long and one of my staples for food was knocked out from under me.

The second problem was just pure dumb luck. We were assigned apartments when we got there and the one I was given just happened to not have a microwave. It had a shower, a bed, even a flat screen t.v., but no microwave. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to eat mash potatoes or pasta that has been reheated on an oven repeatedly, but let me tell you, I don’t recommend it. All I’ll say on the matter is that more gagging was involved–and a lot of soda.

The only good thing about it was that it forced me to be creative. After all, I couldn’t go to the local sandwich shop and buy something every time my food was inedible. The sandwich’s were 4-5 euros which was the equivalent of eight dollars or so. Since that was out I scoured the city for things that my mouth would permit me to swallow. I’d order a pizza that I’d make last a week, eat a tone of cereal, buy snack like items to substitute for dinner. I even adventured to the local farmers market a few times in desperation to find edible items.

Despite that and the amount of energy I burned, everything turned out fine. If I ever go abroad like that again however, I think I have two choices.

Have my taste buds removed, or insure that I have a blasted microwave.



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