I had a challenging moment after our flight home from Mexico City last night. It had to do with a burrito we’d lugged home over 1500 miles and across two time zones. On this latest trip, we’d spent a week each in Oaxaca and Mexico City.
We deliberately made this a slow travel trip, enjoying late breakfasts in our Airbnb, a light lunch of tacos on the go, and then a big nightly restaurant dinner (often at one of the world class, mouth-watering Lebanese and middle eastern restaurants that constitute the cultural heritage of Mexico’s many waves of international immigration).
Of the past seven weeks, we’ve spent five of them traveling. Amazing, right? A lot of things go out the window during travel, and food and fitness routines are among the first to go.
I plead guilty to planning an afternoon delight of churros and thick Spanish chocolate at El Moro, and for insisting we go to Neveria Roxy, the ice cream shop voted most-likely-to-be-mistaken-for-a-stripper’s-name whose 75 year tradition of not changing their wallpaper meant my mom had no trouble recognizing it as the exact place she used to go during her childhood in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
Like many value-sensitive airline customers, I loathe paying airport food prices for terrible, horrible, no good, very bad meal options. Give me ten bucks at a supermarket and I can whip up gourmet smoked turkey sandwiches for our entire family of four with spinach, roasted peppers, capers, balsamic vinegar and the really delicious spicy deli mustard – the kind with extra horseradish that makes your eyes water and those tiny whole mustard seeds that pop in your mouth.
The burrito in question was purchased because it was huge enough to feed both kids (I heart economies of scale) and we were running late. My wife is a worrier, and at the airport she expressed concern that our flight, which inconveniently overlapped both lunch and dinner, might mean one mega-burrito would not be sufficient for the kids.
Hungry kids I could handle, a worried wife – not so much. I caved and paid airport prices (the blow softened somewhat because Mexican airport prices). I bought them a 30 centimeter Subway sandwich to share (Mexico and the rest of the world are on the metric system, so a foot-long doesn’t exist; serendipitously, my son had asked me earlier in the day how many centimeters were in a foot and we’d worked through the conversion, so he flashed me a happy gap-toothed math smile of recognition at the sandwich counter).
As the flight began, they inhaled their Subway sandwiches and professed satiety. I assumed once home they’d see our empty fridge they’d happily consume the burrito. Nope. Moping and whining ensued, along with absurd protestations that sounded every shade of spoiled.
We had just collectively experienced children their age selling handicrafts in the streets to help feed their families. We had visited a pueblo with tin-roofed houses. We’d talked about what it must be like to live this way, and ways we could help.
What I wanted to say, if I came from a generation ago: “Like hell you aren’t eating that burrito, if I have to sit here all night and watch you do it!“
What I actually said, thanks to my wife’s soothing whispered reminder that child protective services was only a phone call away: “It sounds like everyone is very tired from a long day of travel. Let’s call it an early night and talk about this tomorrow.“
We subsequently had a long discussion covering topics like food waste and why it’s a particular hot button issue for us, as well as tangentially touching on hedonic adaptation (eating at a restaurant is usually a rare and special treat, but after our 5th week of restaurant meals on the road we’d grown accustomed to this treat and the thrill was gone).
I’d love to say that I felt better after our chat, but the truth is it still eats at me to hear them sound so spoiled.
Any suggestions on how to get across the concept of food waste to kids, especially those accustomed to food abundance?