A vacation is officially an excellent reason to go off a diet. People book foodie cruises, fly to Europe for cooking schools and sign up for local food truck tours so they can mix food and fun on purpose.
But is there a point when food takes over the vacation?
- Is it when you bring an extra (empty) suitcase and frantically fill it like some culinary crackhead, afraid that you won’t be able to find any of “the good stuff” when you get home?
- Is it when you’ve bought so many food items you need the hotel luggage cart to get them to your room?
- Does each day’s itinerary include at least one specialty food stop, and failing to make that stop induces heart palpitations, sweating and a bout of whining?
- Have you ever invented a really good story to get your treasure trove of treats past the TSA?
- Have you ever gotten lost, run out of cash or gone more than fifty miles out of your way in search of that pie-in-the-sky, taste-of-Heaven, gastronomic gift from the gods?
I’m guilty of all of the above. Not saying I’m proud of it, just guilty.
Take our last vacation to The Husband’s high school reunion in Dayton, Ohio. One of our planned stops was a cheese tasting at a grocery store in Columbus, Ohio. You did not misread that. We stopped at a grocery store, on purpose, for some cheese and wine.
This was not a grocery store like those we have in our neighborhood, however. It was a super-sized Giant Eagle, one of those eight-cylinder, store-on-steroids complexes where you spend hours, buy everything you could ever want and if you are unable to leave at closing, can probably find a comfy place on a lawn chair in Aisle 42. You can snack on cheese and wine, which we did (and ended up buying some of what we tried, because it was outstanding), watch pizza makers at work, buy pastries at any stage from naked cakes to decorate yourself to completed masterpieces, kitchen equipment, enough beer and wine to pickle every liver in the state, farms’ worth of meats, poultry and precisely displayed produce, and if you’re overwhelmed, you can just choose from the prepared foods department, which takes up a small store in itself.
Yes, there are hard goods, like bedding, lawn furniture and clothing as well, but you don’t come to an emporium like this to look for a comforter or a onesie. You come to a place like this to eat. Stores like this are not logical, and the profit margins are ridiculously low, about one
If food is high on your vacation’s priority list, don’t forget to check out all types of destinations. Restaurants, food festivals and food trucks are great, but there are great finds in local farm stands, grocery stores and small shops off dirt roads, too.
Oh, and I added to my cookbook collection on this trip, too; but like the suitcase stash, that’s food fodder for another column. This one’s too full.
Giant Eagle Market District, 3061 Kingsdale Center, Columbus, OH. Phone (614) 538-0762.
*Source: The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2012. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304373804577522912244866078.html