Travel: It’s Not a Good Excuse.

Most of us, myself included, complain about travel, particularly business travel.  We use it as an excuse to eat poorly.  The airports are crowded and uncomfortable and the food options there are expensive and unhealthy.  When we reach our destination we’re usually eating in restaurants, or even worse, from room service.

But I’m here to tell you, things might be changing.  As I mentioned, I recently was in New York for a conference.  And as I also mentioned, I was pretty sure the food options were going to be less-than-stellar.  I was wrong.

I started in Jacksonville, whose airport, sadly, does not include improved options.  It does, however, offer the same yogurt/fruit/granola parfait you can find in any US airport.  And while that tastes, yeah, a little chemically, it’s not the worst thing you could eat.  So I choked that down for lunch on the way out.

Dinner, that was better.  A lot better.  I had a lovely filet mignon with sauteed spinach.  Which was not only tasty, it was healthy.  The fried onion strips and the fried calamari were also delicious, only not so healthy.  The Capitol Grille was the first serious steakhouse I’ve ever visited with a calorie count on the menu.  Which is apparently a Mayor Bloomberg thing in New York.  Longtime readers know I don’t so much care about calorie counts on menus.  People don’t go to steakhouses to worry about calories.  Which is, I suppose, why the “off-menu” fried onion strips didn’t have a calorie count available.

For breakfast both days, I had coupons for the continental bar.  They had Cheerios, but no frozen blueberries.  So I supplemented with (multiple) croissants.  Because they were there.  Which illustrates the true problem with eating while traveling:  It’s easy, even tempting, to suspend the rules.  Free croissants?  Really?  Right there in front of me?  Hard to turn down.  So I didn’t.

Lunch was a healthy chicken salad on a nice dark-brown bread.  Dinner the second night was not so healthy, but was the culinary highlight of the trip.  Katz’s Delicatessen, pastrami on rye, mustard, some pickles, order of fries and a cream soda.  Seriously, best pastrami anywhere.  I’m pretty sure I consumed a month’s worth of sodium at one sitting, but it was worth every gram.  An important note about the cream soda:  It was the first flavored soda I’ve had in 2011, and it was like going home.  It was wonderful.  And it made me want more, lots more.  I managed to beat that temptation, but it made me realize how slippery the slope is.

Lunch was a pleasant – and plenty healthy – lobster salad with oranges and avacodo over cold vermicelli.

Now here’s the part I want you to internalize.  Airport food, at least at LaGuardia, is good.  Pat LaFrieda burgers?  Fresh, huge salad bar?  Local pizza?  French Bistro?   At an airport?  Very, very cool.  The salad bar alone was like a trip to a Whole Foods/Fresh Market.  The most interesting, however, was Bar Brace.  Italian food (and a full liquor bar) at stylish wraparound bar complete with AC outlets for portable electronics at every place setting.  Holy cow.  (I had a burger, fries and a coffee at Bisoux, the bistro.)

In addition to the amazing food choices, I have to say the TSA officers and Delta workers were – get this – helpful and pleasant.  Again, holy cow.  I was wondering if I had somehow ended up in an airport that was not in Queens.  If you’re flying to the New York area, fly into LGA.  Trust me.

So, to recap, I wasn’t exactly a responsible eater, but that was my fault, not the circumstances.  Incidentally, I walked a lot.  A whole lot.

Hey, look at that, two days in a row.  Only 29 in a row to go.  Stick with me.  Thanks for reading.

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