When brainstorming for this assignment, I had absolutely no idea where to go. How does one sum up such a momentous experience, or even begin to convey it? Looking through the 2,140 photos and 172 videos I took while studying abroad, a commonality became apparent.
As many who know me are aware, I adore food. Memories from my time abroad tend to come up when food is in the area. Even today, when fish and chips were being served at the dining hall, my first thought was of brown sauce, the common condiment found in last summer’s travels. It is along this theme that I will walk through the trip, with hope of conveying something of my experience.
When designing a game, the character must first exist. In my journey through food, the story begins with the first meal. This food is subject to being more than food. It embodies the newness of things. Travel never before undertaken, and the true start to the adventure that is to come.
Yes, these are panini. When the trip is larger than life and still surreal, so must the food be. With this, the arrival into Edinburgh was marked, and jet lag began to be overcome. This meal would fuel a climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat, a journey to a hostel, and the first round of exploration of the city.
At first glance, this appears to be a classic breakfast of pancakes with syrup and orange juice. They are so much more. They are SCOTTISH pancakes, consumed in the shop where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Outside the frame, elephants adorn the walls, keeping an eye on the guests within.
While things kept up their crazy pace of exploration, castles, climbing, and mile after mile of walking, classics like biscuits, butter, and jam were enjoyed. The discovery of this place (www.grazeongrassmarket.com/) gave a sense of stability. When one knows that breakfast will happen, the day can always fall into place.
Back to Graze for the final breakfast in Edinburgh. This was the closing meal of the city, and the final chapter on this part of our adventures. While only a week was spent here, it felt like its own lifetime. We knew we’d move on to bigger things, and to Bangor University, where the real work would begin.
Bangor began with buffet breakfast. Settled into our rooms and all living in the same hallway, morning breakfast became part of our routine. It was from here that we watched results of Brexit unfold while keeping an eye on news from the US. Beans took similar role to brown sauce, acting as yet another cultural difference; something unique to our travels.
After a hard day of exploration in Wales and miles upon miles walked that day, a dessert truck served a moment of sweetness to the group. Cold cream with syrup and chocolate was a different taste than I’d previously experienced, but most definitely a welcome one.
If there’s one stereotypically American thing Wales does well, it’s burgers. I don’t remember on which night this beautiful creation occurred, but occur it did. It was here that pickles were noted as being not pickles, but gherkin, and that the wonders of prosciutto were put onto a burger. Another adventure slipped by at this restaurant, as none of us were quite sure about eating a camel burger.
Close to the end of Bangor came the Big Breakfast. It is exactly as massive as it looks. For the falling action of our story in Wales, it tasted beautiful. This served as fuel for a long day, and the final real breakfast before the train to Manchester.
Resolution came in Manchester. With two of six of us together near the airport, we ventured to find food. To find this particular place, we traveled over a bridge, through woods, and down a long dark road to see a restaurant resting peacefully at the end. Creme Brulee with a strawberry gave delicious end to the food adventures in the UK.
Meals each day not only provided fuel for the adventures that took place, but gave cultural insight into localities we did not have the time to fully explore. Of over 2200 photos, it is these moments, eating with friends in small restaurants in foreign cities, that I remember most. While the names of castles may fade, I believe the memories of tastes will remain. In retrospect, trying new food was more important than I could have imagined. A small victory over the unknown, spaced throughout the day, provided the confidence needed to absorb new experiences, appreciate differences, and take this journey head-on. Through planes, mountains, castles and quests, the best advice I can give for those who travel is this: keep eating.