Sunday, November 25, 2007

Travel Cheese

The more I travel, the more I realize that preserving morale is vital. There are so many things that can erode a good attitude over a day of travel: bad food, uncomfortable accommodations, endless CNN, bad air, the same old stuff in Sky Mall, or worst of all, no Sky Mall at all. So it becomes extra important to make the things you do have control over as pleasant and streamlined as possible, to minimize the chances that you and your traveling companions will end the day sniping at each other and hailing separate taxis.

The food situation is primary. Not only will bad food or hunger make a situation more stressful, good food can go a long way towards making a difficult situation feel much more manageable. The difference between tasty snacks that will make you feel good and Scary Airport Food is the the difference between feeling like a human being and feeling like a disregarded piece of cargo. And now that the airlines no longer provide those compartmentalized meals, there needs to be a whole new strategy of Travel Foods. Buying stuff in the airport is a last resort, as far as I'm concerned, since it's always either too dry or too fried. So then, if you're packing food from home, what to bring? It should be non-perishable enough to survive the half-hour trip to the airport, the two hours spent in either the Stand and Wait or the Sit and Wait positions, and a few hours of air travel and plane-changing. So that's what, five or six hours? Too long for meat, too long for mayonnaise. Cheese to the rescue. Cheese, good bread, vegetables, and fruit. I'll help with the cheese:

Travel Cheese

sharp cheddar
cream cheese
garlic chili paste
lemon juice

Finely grate the cheddar. Mix it with the other ingredients, adding lemon juice gradually until it stops being crumbly and starts seeming spreadable. Then spread it on thinly sliced whole-grain bread. For maximum convenience, make a few sandwiches, cut them into quarters, and wrap each quarter separately in tin foil. This makes it very easy to grab just a little food without making a big production of it. Along with some carrot and celery sticks, you have a reasonable, tasty meal that shouldn't kill you. If you have a very long trip, you might try freezing the sandwiches before you set off, but the texture might get funky.

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