As I passed through Milan as part of my journey to the start of the Camino de Santiago, I was reminded of my trip to Expo in August 2015. Italy has always felt like home to me in Europe, a familiar base from which I can travel and the reason that I chose Milan to fly into as I embarked on my pilgrimage.
One aspect that I have always enjoyed about travelling is learning about different cultures – food, fashion, lifestyle. How we eat and what we eat reflects who we are, our culture and place in society. To me, eating is as much part of the journey as learning the language or country’s history.
Expo’s theme, feeding the world, had highlighted one of the most important issues for generations to come: food security. Protecting our environment and sustainability are critical to global food security, with developing countries most likely to be impacted as a result of limited access to water and energy. Although supply was no issue at Expo and no expense spared on quality, we often take it for granted that as Australians, we live in an affluent world with access and wealth to select nutritious produce.
A regimented clean eater since the beginning of 2014 (as part of a journey to heal my body) there had been no place for this at EXPO where my strategy was to eat my way through the EATaly pavilion, spending less time in queues and more time tasting, exploring my favourite spots the Italian Piazza, Coffee and Chocolate Cluster and Slow Food movement. Returning to Italy and about to embark on a journey of a life time, my relationship with food was still somewhat difficult to digest and one of the intentions I had set to resolve during my walk. #paleo #vegan #raw #pescatarian #vegetarian #sugarfree #glutenfree #caffeinefree #alcoholfree #soyfree #preservativefree I have been all in the past 27 months!
The Italians have an approach to food and eating, a sense of pleasure unlike anywhere in the world and Italian women are known for eaten only a small portion of optimum quality food reminding me of Italy’s slogan at Expo – ‘Discover the style of Italy.’ At 4am on Saturday 9 April 2016, I woke to the odore of freshly baked crossiants! The night before I had been undecided about whether I would catch an early train to Bayonne, making my way to the Camino’s starting point in St Jean Pied de Port and now the fresh smell whet my appetite, not just for the food, but for adventure!
With this, I decided that my approach for my pilgrimage would be to discover my own style and relax my controlled and regimented dietary requirements and embrace the local cuisine of the small country towns that I would be passing through. I had heard that the journey had limited options for vegans/vegetarians and guessed that my added requirements of gluten, sugar free and preservative would be even more complex!
Of course, I would not abandon my love for fresh, quality food and avoid all processed food however feel that the produce in regional Spain and France is as much part of the journey as the walk itself! If EXPO’s EATaly Pavillion had been a buffet of Italian regional specialities, capturing Italy’s best from the north to the south, The Way will be a 33 course degustation on the road to spiritual and self discovery!