Eating My Way Round The World: Watching Sports in USA
Today, I’m returning to my latest series of themed posts. As food has always been one of my favourite subjects, we’re taking a gastronomic trip around the world, looking back on some of the more memorable meals I’ve eaten during my travels. We started by spending Christmas in Jordan, then headed to Russia for a wedding in St Petersburg, before journeying nearly two and a half thousand kilometres south east to Nalchik in Kabardino Balkaria for supper in a cave. And last month, we took a short journey, travelling just over three hundred kilometres south east, to Tbilisi for a post-conference banquet.
For today’s meal, we’re leaving Europe, crossing Central Asia, the Far East, the Pacific Ocean and the whole of the United States, a journey of nearly twenty thousand kilometres, to the small town of Greenville in North Carolina. I’ve chosen this as just one example of the meals I’ve eaten during visits to America.
There are some fine restaurants in America. In fact, in 2003 and 2004, The French Laundry in Napa Valley was voted the best restaurant in the world. But it’s fair to say there’s also a lot of junk food over there too. On one of my first visits, I was asked by my hosts what I thought of ‘American cuisine’ and just stopped myself from saying I thought it was a contradiction in terms. Of course, that would have been most unfair of me, and I’m glad I didn’t say it.
It was in America I first ate Caesar Salad. And on a visit to New York, I sampled the delights of salt beef sandwich in a noisy deli. When travelling with other Europeans, whether for business or pleasure, we quickly learned to order one dish between two as the portions are enormous.
But let’s return to Greenville. It was back in the days when I worked for big pharma and my company had a manufacturing facility there. I’d flown into Raleigh Durham from the UK and taken the little puddle-hopper plane on to Greenville. Before we boarded, each passenger was asked their weight. I spent the whole journey wondering if I was the only one to have lied in giving my answer, and whether, if the plane went down, it would be my fault?
My host for the visit was the one of the senior managers, a great sports fan and owner of a 1950s Cadillac. On the Saturday, he collected me from my hotel in that wonderful car and headed for the local baseball stadium. I had no idea how the game worked when we arrived, and was no wiser when we left. But I do remember the joy of sitting in the stands among happy family groups, eating hot dogs with onion and mustard; followed by huge pretzels and popcorn; and washing the whole thing down with gallons of Pepsi. Not the healthiest of meals by any means, but certainly one of the most memorable ones – and a lot of fun.