Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
By Vicki Bohlsen, BohlsenPR
My family has been traveling through France, Germany and Austria for the last two weeks. Driving through the scenic Ammergau Alps in Germany, I asked my kids to name their top three things of the trip so far. My oldest daughter, without pause, replied, “Breakfast, lunch and dinner.” I think she has heard me talking about how I was going to “eat my way through Europe” a few too many times, but I also think she might be becoming a food adventurist like myself.
I have always loved experiencing, preparing and eating food. I grew up in Indianapolis with parents who explored food with a vengeance. I recall being babysat so my parents could go eat Rocky Mountain oysters (aka “hog’s nuts” – yes, they are exactly what you’re thinking) at a local restaurant, and going to Shapiro’s for tongue sandwiches. My parents experimented with local produce and introduced us to various ethnic traditions; meals were an “experience” as I was growing up.
My love for food followed me through and into adulthood, and I try to emulate this part of my childhood with my three kids. I love to travel to new places and find out what they eat and why they eat it. Why is it that the same entree is prepared differently just a few miles, states or countries away? Finding out the reasons can explain so much about that particular area’s history, people, climate, traditions, culture and, even, transportation systems. By accident, we have made all of our meals a learning experience as we meander through this part of Europe.
Two weeks ago, we were approaching Paris and the flight attendants served us all croissants. And so it began; for five days following that first buttery treat, we all indulged in the ways of the French – endless amounts of crepes, pastries and café au laits, and escargot and wine, wine, wine. I explained to my kids that it’s not just the food they serve, it’s how and why and when. We would talk about it as we sat among the Parisians, the occasional dog under the table.
Then we were off to Germany, and the schnitzel and brauten-eating ensued. When we visited the Hofbrau House in Munich (the largest and most famous biergarten in all of Germany) – during the World Cup, mind you – we witnessed firsthand, as wine-drinking is to the French, the beer drinking that is an everyday part of life for the damen and herren of this fine country.
What I most admire about Germans, though, is their breakfast tradition. Whether we’ve dined in a larger hotel in Munich or a small pensione in Seeg, we have all been in heaven eating cheese and meats, fruit and vegetables, nuts and other delicacies with a pot of strong coffee every morning.
I have done what I set out to do. I’ve eaten my way through Europe, and am happy that along the way I’ve managed to use the food traditions to teach my kids a few things about the places we’ve visited. I’m happy that as we are driving into Switzerland, the questions from the back seat aren’t, “When are we going to get there,” but, “What kind of food do the Swiss eat?”
As we return to the States, I will try to fold the traditions we admired and enjoyed into our daily life. As we do, we’ll be pleasantly reminded of what we managed to learn during breakfast, lunch and dinner.