Being vegan in Georgia? Almost impossible.

  I am starving. I didn’t think it would be this hard. There are always salads and French fries if the going gets tough I had reassured myself. But I hadn’t considered the incredible heat that would make ferreting out new places so difficult. 

There is very little to eat here if you’re vegan. Georgian’s are huge cheese lovers. Cream is slipped into everything. The main food, a bread, is stuffed with cheese. And I’m jealous because everything looks amazing – Georgian food is rated among one f the world’s best cuisines.

Certainly, spice carts sit on the corner of every street filling the air with a fragrant, saffron air. 

 I found a Thai restaurant last night and ate a vegetable curry but was hungry two hours later. I suppose in a way, I’m lucky it’s so hot. I’m far from feeling hungry, but I feel the lack of food sapping at my energy, inducing lethargy. 

  
After a fruitless hunt for two places which apparently served vegetarian/vegan food, I settled on the Green Cafe on freedom square, where I’ve ordered a salad and, you guessed it, fries. After some furious googling, I found out that Mushroom Khakali – dumplings – are also vegan, so I ordered two of these as well. And the salad is excellent, covered in thyme and a salty walnut paste. I’m glad I’ve finally found a hint of Georgian food I can enjoy. And hopefully not die from …

Eating alone in Florence: a how to guide

Eating alone seems to be the only rubbish thing about travelling alone.
Travelling alone is wonderful – you get to do your itinerary, and like the obsessive Bronzino fan that I am, you get to revisit his painted chapel twice because there’s no sourpuss telling me I’m being boring.
Best of all is having a press card and therefore getting free entrance into everything in Italy. I never travel with anybody else who has one of these, so that’s already a strike against me poking my head into the Uffizi twice in one day.

Best of all, I like making the decision of whether or not I want to do things. If I was with my partner, I might walk down the long hill to the river because that’s what we should be doing. Alone I can decide that that would be a terrible idea and instead sit on a bench and sketch (badly) some cupola or other. Days are longer by yourself, and in a world of haste and panic, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

But mealtimes suck. These are social affairs anywhere in the world, and nowhere more so than Italy. Being a single traveller amid enormous families meeting together for a robust Sunday meal is awkward at best. What do you do? Stare around the room? Take a book with you (that you can only read in between mouthfuls if you buy anything that requires cutting up)? Awkwardly poke your phone for no reason at all? Write long, despondent articles such as this one about the awkwardness of eating alone?
Add that to the fact that I definitely eat on British time, which means I consider 1pm to be fine time for lunch. Inevitably, this means I am the only person in the restaurant, so, as now, I have waiters hovering over me. Or, also in this care, just one man on the pizza over, chin in hands, staring at me. But hey, dining choices, it’s my bad.

Iceland: What I learned about food

I hadn’t gone to Iceland with high hopes for the food scene. In fact I went to Iceland with a bag full of gf spaghetti and a packet of porcini mushrooms. I had only two goals for my trip: experience the dramatic scenery this rocky island has to offer and don’t starve.

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All I can say, is, it was a shame about the hurricane that left us housebound for 3/3 days and, thank god I’d packed the spaghetti. We landed in the worst landing conditions I’d ever flown in in my life. The last hour of the flight from Gatwick could only be described as “rollercoaster-esque.” Every time the plane tried to go down, a gust larger than I’ve felt in a plane before would blow it off course. It was the landing of nightmares, and proof of how awful it was that the whole cabin was laughing hysterically/weeping for the final ten minutes of descent as the plane’s wings careered from 45 degrees left to right. Awful.

Plane trauma aside, the fact was it was pretty damn windy. This I put down to Iceland in the winter, but in fact, said the lovely Danish woman in the tourist information, one of the biggest hurricanes to hit Iceland in the last decade was on the horizon. “It’s fine, you’ll be able to do everything. I’ve never seen the golden circle tour shut the whole time I’ve been here.” “Nor have I,” piped up her geriatric colleague. Lo and behold, the Golden Circle tour was shut early next morning because of “hazardous weather conditions.”

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The whole trip then turned into how to literally not get blown away in Reykjavik and becoming extremely well acquainted with¬†Iceland’s ¬†Keflavik airport arrival and departure board online. We watched in horror as every flight switched from delayed to cancelled, and with heavy hearts, realised that we were indeed stranded in Iceland with absolutely nothing to do.

Normally I’d turn to food, but as you may have heard, Iceland is pretty damn expensive. I had some toast out at one point, and I bought a broccoli so I could make my spaghetti into noodles. Otherwise, we just sat, huddled in Kaffitar coffee shop where I finished writing the firs draft of a book I was working on at the time, and wished we could afford more than a filter coffee between two.

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Once, we went into a local supermarket and saw what exciting produce was on offer, but other than packets of dried fish, and really, really expensive red peppers, there was just the usual. We watched lots of people get drunk, and wondered how.