Thursday, February 12, 2009

What I eat: Daily Edition

By now it should be pretty obvious I don't go out to eat all that much.  In Belgium it isn't too hard to find a bargain for a meal, but the best bargain is in preparing food for yourself.  I imagine this strategy is not location specific.  I will consume a meal or two outside of my my own creation but it is either in the name of tourism or The Office.  Since starting work I have kept up cooking at least four out of five nights a week.  I've only left the office for lunch once, though I only make myself lunch four days a week so far.  I have eaten every single breakfast since I arrived in my apartment... and I don't buy coffee.  I'll write an entire post about European caffeination habits at some point, but I don't have the time or patients to do that tonight.  I think this has been a pretty good way to save those euros for better usage.
I've usually got a few minutes in the morning to have breakfast while I make my lunch.  It is multi-tasking I enjoy.  I'm a cereal guy, and I usually prefer kids cereal to start my day.  I was in for a huge disappointment when I arrived in Brussels.  There are two kinds of cereal, really expensive and really bad.  The really expensive cereal isn't very good either, but they have an amazing looking cereal filled with nutella... those boxes are an obscene five or six euro.  I tried some choco-wafers that were much cheaper and they actually tasted like cardboard.  Seriously, cardboard, I could have cut up the box near the end and sprinkled it on top for flavor.  Since then I've just gone with corn flakes with some banana for sweetness.
While I'm eating my breakfast I prepare lunch:  A sandwich and apple.  It is basic and satisfying.  Until you go to the grocery store and can't decipher what kinds of deli meat and cheese they have.  I was baffled at the fact they didn't have American cheese... I learned non-aged Gouda is a pretty close substitute.  Europeans love cured meats so its much easier to get salami or pepperoni or PROSCIUTTO.  I'm pretty sure I never made a prosciutto and Gouda sandwich for lunch before my day in NY.  There are only two portion sizes in the stores though:  super mega tiny and enough for that family of eighteen that has their own TV show.  Bread has become an issue during sandwich construction.  I've purchased two loaves of packaged bread and been disappointed by their shelf life.  Almost half a loaf of bread has submitted to mold under my watch so far.  I have discovered a new solution:  real bread.  Lately I've been getting a baguette which is long (think your whole arm) and thin (think your whole arm).  I slice off a hoagie lengthed portion and prepare my sandwich.  The end goes stale by the next day so I slice off about a quarter inch and make another sandwich.  There are about three or four sandwiches in a single baguette that costs about 80 eurocents.  Plus its fresh bread from a bakery, so the soft inside portion is like cotton candy:  wispy, light and sweet.  The crust is hard but not tough... it makes a damn good PB&J.
I got back to my apartment last night around 11pm.  I still cooked myself dinner.  This is probably not the best habit for digestion, but entirely necessary for sleep.  I used to have the bad habit of unwinding from a day at work by watching unnecessary television or some other media source.  That isn't so easy any more, so the cooking of my meals every night relaxes and pulls my mind off of work.  My dinners are usually incredibly simple.  I make some jasmine rice, maybe enough for three portions.  I'll eat the first portion cooked normally and then usually make fried rice with the other two portions.  If I'm eating fresh rice I will steam some veggies: carrots, green beans, broccoli... usually a good mix.  If I'm making fried rice I'll stick to carrots and green beans with some garlic.  Lately I've only cooked protein on the weekends.  I have been purchasing small single portions of pork or steak but this weekend I'm going to get a little adventurous and try to cook a Partridge.  That's a small bird, or Danny Bonaduce.  I'll throw an egg into the fried rice to get extra protein during the week, but I'm not overly concerned with how much or how little protein I'm consuming.  
This is a pretty basic diet that I enjoy day to day and is very easy for me to prepare quickly.  When I have the chance to get home early or have a weekend off I may cook something a little special, but usually I stick to my basics.  The next "what I eat" will cover those few meals I don't prepare for myself and are outside the range of "tourism."  I think I cover the tourism food pretty well so far, but I've gotta find something else to try next.  MAYBE BEER!  Ok, I'll work on my ideas on how to test out a lot of beer for you guys while trying to criticize (and remember) the experience.


  1. I am really interested how you are going to do the Partridge - that will be a great Blog commentary !!

  2. I like the rice idea. Do you consider The Office unnecessary television? Can you get it over there? It is Thursday you know, in fact it's starting in 15 mins.