Once upon a time, a very long time ago (pre-social media), I lived in Europe, courtesy of the United States Air Force. During our four years there, my husband and I tried to travel and soak up as much as we could about life in Europe, and one of our favorite ways to do that was by eating (sometimes drinking) with the locals. There is no better way to get the true ambiance of a place than to go where the locals go.
Living in Europe in a community with multiple American air bases, this can be a challenge; there are places designed to cater to Americans and our particular tastes. But next to that Americanized diner serving fries would be a local place serving pommes frite; you just had to expand your vision a little bit.
On days like today, (that being, a day ending in ‘y’), I yearn for some of the food that I was able to enjoy in Europe–because, yes, there are German, Italian, Greek restaurants here, but they’re all Americanized. Even in Europe, the countries put their own spin on things. For instance, Greek food in Germany is not like Greek food in America or even in Greece; the vast majority of Greek restaurants where we lived in Germany were pizzerias. And, oh; there is nothing like a Greek pizza, let me tell you.
So, with ever-growing frequency, when we had time for a long-ish lunch, we would head to a Greek restaurant in Kaiserslautern-Einsiedlerhof known for its pizzas (The Marathon on B-40 should you find yourself in the area), and indulge in a generously decadent lunch of Greek salad, Greek pizza and a nice glass of wine (when in Europe…). The salad and the pizza had those amazing, garlicky flavors–tzatziki and ground lamb and pepperoncini and feta … and I can’t remember what else, but my mouth is watering, nonetheless. The impossibly thin-crust pizza was fired in a brick oven and reaches that crispy, melted, almost charred result that is impossible to recreate if you don’t have the same setup. Some days, I’d order on my way home from work and pick up the salad and the pizza and the (bottle of) wine and that pizza would still be hot and crispy when I got home.
Living abroad allowed me to broaden my tastes and showed me so many foods that I would have never even considered to be palatable, much less craving-inducing. Food is truly one of the best things about travel. Yes, I will admit that I ate at McDonald’s in every country I visited (What can I say? Sometimes you just need a familiar bite of home.), but I also have a unique food memory associated with just about every castle, festival, village, city and region we visited. I just wish sometimes I didn’t crave all those dishes that I can’t get here in Oklahoma! I’ll continue to seek them out through recipes and restaurants I visit.
Mari Farthing is an administrator at the Oklahoma Women Bloggers who loves to travel and soak up the local culture wherever she goes. Mari blogs about life at Mari, Quite Contrary. and writing at Mari Edits.