Cycling / European Trip 2010 / Food

Supersized Meals Along Cycling Trips : Gulping Surprises

Ate the whole Mexican meal. Bothell, Washington 2005. Photo byHJEH Becker.

Ate the whole Mexican meal. Bothell, Washington 2005. Photo byHJEH Becker.

I’m not sure why it is, but the  most memorable super-sized meals have been during our cycling trips.  Why does this happen out of town?  Maybe I don’t eat out often enough in local restaurants in my home city. I spend more restaurant dollars and sample more culinary variety  when we’re travelling and touring.

After a 100 km. or only a 40 km. cycle to a strange place, somehow it’s easier to justify eating a super-sized meal.  It must the tourist idiot-factor.   We may sometimes do crazier things, away from home.

At times, what dumbfounded us was the size of food portions in various U.S. restaurants

Tower of ice cream for 1 person. Avignon, France 2008. Photo by R. Campbell

Tower of ice cream for 1 person. Avignon, France 2008. Photo by R. Campbell

that  we  dropped  by. A common experience across the international border.  While in the U.S.,  Stone Creamery, the  ice cream chain, there were noticeably  larger ice cream sizes  for the same price in Vancouver.  It’s more  of a novelty for us to dig into huge ice cream globes each time we visit Seattle.  It’s a supersize snack fun time.  Stone Creamery’s ice cream flavours and  bland smoothness appeals to mainstream taste: nothing too wierd nor strong.  Prime for eating lots of  nice, safe ice cream.  We’re more accustomed to playful, stronger flavours of gelatos from various gelatari in Vancouver which range from soy,

Massive tortellini. Mount Vernon, Washington 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Massive tortellini for Jack. Mount Vernon, Washington 2010. Photo by J. Chong.

with  flavours more Italian,  Asian or tropical —smaller portions but same price.

I have had some eye-popping sized meals in some Mexican restaurants –on the U.S. northwest coast area, an area supposedly where the general population may be more physically active in various activities than other parts of America. Or maybe I only know northwest coasters who like their cycling, jogging, hiking or skiing.

Maegret of duck in port sauce with generous bowl of spaetzle. Strasbourg, France 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Maegret of duck in port sauce with generous bowl of spaetzle. Strasbourg, France 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Meal a la carte for 1 person.

Hefty Portions in Some European Eateries
What was amazing to us, when we travelled in Europe last year, were supersized meals  at some restaurants in touristy areas in large and small European cities.  Maybe serving larger meals of any common local food, kept the North American tourists happy.

For instance, earlier I wrote a blog post about Czech dumplings which I sampled several times in different places. In one of the photos, the dumplings were mini cake-like, carbohydrate towers.  Well, they really were hulking but fluffy and airy dumplings to soak up the dark brown beef gravy puddle.

Apple strudel for 1 person but split for 2 cyclists. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Apple strudel for 1 person but split for 2 cyclists. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic 2010. Photo by J. Chong

In Strasbourg, France, our first dinner was the traditional baekoff which appeared to be a duo of dumplings or potatoes with a meat dish served in a baking dish.  Each of us ordered a different dinner combination a la carte.  The duck meat portions were generous:  was it because we were in a touristy area or was duck more common in France?

Of course, at times we’re surprised by a local restaurant. Recently we shared a huge appetizer that was deemed a polenta base with an enjoyable tomato-basil sauce, a prelude to our 10” thin pizzas that we each had later on.  The polenta was surprisingly light which led Jack to believe there was some tapioca used to lighten the polenta  volume.

Polenta Lasagna --featured appetizer at Pulcinella's, Calgary 2011. With layers of sausage (not obvious to us), tomato and cheese. Photo by J. Chong

Polenta Lasagna –featured appetizer at Pulcinella’s, Calgary 2011. With layers of sausage (not obvious to us), tomato and cheese. Photo by J. Chong. Shared by 2 walkers. Consumed before 10″ thin gourmet pizzas per person.

And do I need to say anything further on the traditional Ukranian local fare of a large cabbage roll, 6 cheese-potato perogies, sauerkraut and sausage?

My apologies for not including any photos of an  Asian banquet array of dishes: I’m used this –but only for special occasions.  Maybe I indulge in supersized meals off-side because it’s memory of those rare Chinese banquets of 8, 10  or 12 courses with friends or for special meals.  Meals to remember.

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9 thoughts on “Supersized Meals Along Cycling Trips : Gulping Surprises

  1. Portions are huge at restaurants serving normal German fare here. A lot of places will give you extra helpings of Bratkartoffeln – potatoes fried with bacon and onion bits that often comes with your meat or fish.

    To power myself along a long cycling trip 30 years ago from France to Morocco and back I would grind up peanuts and mix them into a jar of honey, spread it on fresh bread. Poor student back then, not many restaurant meals…

  2. That would have been quite an interesting bike trip –with some very contrasting cultures and terrain! The spread sounded very good, healthy energizer.

    When we were in Germany, we did eat in some restaurants that was more than just schnitzel. This is why I did write up the blog posts on spargel, etc. –food dishes that North Americans just don’t know much about.

  3. What a facinating article. My goodness those portions are huge. How on Earth did you make it through that Mexican meal? I couldn’t have. The Polenta Lasagna and Apple Strudel are making my mouth water. I would have tackled them even though I’m a notriously small eater.

    • I’m sure you must have had some similiar experiences. Thankfully that Mexican behomoth meal (which if you notice, had alot of sauce which makes it look like alot) was part of a 75 km. ride that day which didn’t have difficult hills. The wrong time to have that size of meal for a novelty, is at the end of the day. Unless one is going to burn off for several hrs. of cycling the next day.

    • No, we stumble…or cycle to drop by to order the stuff. Then we’re shocked. :) I’ve just highlighted the more memorable portions. Usually it’s more ordinary. I hope.

  4. Pingback: Hike, Bike, Ferry, Rail and by Car: Crossing the Canada-U.S. Border | Cycle Write Blog

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