Although this blog is called ‘The Distracted Gourmet’, I have to admit to you that, apart from the ‘The Distracted’ part, I’m nothing of the sort. A gourmet is, after all, someone who has discriminating taste, and although I’m always up for a bit of food snobbery, I can’t pretend I have one refined bone in my body. I’m all about everything, when it comes to food, and although my squeamish sensibilities won’t induce me to eat offal (I have to throw in ‘knowingly’ here, because goodness knows how often I’ve eaten minced floor sweepings disguised as sausages before I put my foot down), I’m pretty easy about most things. In fact, when it comes to anything a little bit foreign, I absolutely delight in the commonplace and the ordinary. How else can you explain my delight in buying cans of French green beans from Carrefour, in the full knowledge that these haricot verts are exactly the same no matter which side of the English Channel you’re on? Or devouring ready meals purchased from an am-pm near my hotel when I stayed in Tokyo for a week a couple of years ago?
Where ever I go, I always try to explore using my stomach. I use food as a way of peering into strange new worlds. The most exciting thing for me to do in a new country (I’ll admit, I haven’t been to many, please don’t think I’m well travelled) is go to a supermarket. My friends think I’m nuts. Maybe, if you’re reading this blog, you know where I’m coming from. There’s just nothing more exciting to me than groceries. I stalked every aisle of every supermarket I visited when I went to France this month. And needless to say, I went into every supermarket I saw, even when it involved leaving Sara and Michael in a McDonald’s, and dragging Rachel across industrial scrubland, across car parks and down slopes obviously not meant as pathways.
Maybe I am a bit of a food snob in my homeland, but when I’m abroad, I turn into a food hussy. I’ll have anything, the lowlier the better. A can of casserole, you say? Is it FOREIGN? Well, I’ll try it. In England, if you tried to feed me stew from a tin, I’d gamely eat it and then bitch about you behind your back in a shocked and hushed manner. But abroad, well, it ceases to be crappy food and turns into an archaeological gem, revealing to me the mysteries of these strange alien beings that look a little like me, but are decidedly stranger. At this moment, I have in my cupboard a packet of French mashed potato. When I eat it, no matter how bad it is, I will feel like a culinary explorer. I know that’s odd and sad, but really, there are no losers in a situation where a 26 year old woman can get genuine happiness out of box of dehydrated potato.