I am soon going on a 2 week long school trip to England, France, Italy, and Switzerland. How can I possibly survive?? I have just mastered not giving in to temptations and would hate to lose my progress. I plan on stuffing my backpack with all the paleo food I can and buying food from a grocery store or something at every opprotunity, but other than that what can I do? Also, what are some cheap travel food ideas? PaleoKits or whatever are too pricey. I have been to Italy before so it's not like I'm going to be missing out on the taste of legit gelato and pizza!
Perspective from living in London, England, UK for 2+ years and using my 6+ weeks of holiday/vacation time in Europe. This will be a crazy long brain-dump, but you are a paleohacker nerd so can handle that. I'll update as I think of more.
Summary: Don't worry too much. Europeans are not afraid of fat. Most of their foods are less processed and more nutrient dense. Only downside is the love of bread, but that can be avoided. (The American influence is becoming obvious with more and more low fat and processed products)
England/UK will be the most difficult place as their foods are a bit more processed than the rest of Europe. Well, unless you do dairy (see dairy tips below).
Tips and thoughts
Bring zip-lock bags if you plan to keep snack foods safe! I know you think I am crazy, but it is the most common request I get from other Americans in London. Real zip-locks DO NOT exist here.
You can't legally bring animal products from the US to Europe on the plane. But you can between all European countries.
You can bring animal products and other food to eat on the plane, if you are worried about the flight or want to eat tasty food. Left-over lamb with avocado is my staple ;)
Most airlines allow you to choose a special meal. You can do it online now or by calling them. I go with 'gluten' free. And you'll get your food first.
If you check luggage (I don't) and want calorie reserves you could throw a jar of coconut oil or cream in.
If lugging food around you will want a few calorie and nutrient dense items (better weight to good stuff ratio)
If money is an issue you'll save a lot by eating many of your calories from grocery stores. The cost of eating out in western Europe is huge compared to the US.
You may have to compromise on items having small amounts of gluten and other annoying ingredients. Labelling is crap here.
If using any supplements, bring them with you. The supplement industry here is a decade behind.
Grocery store foods
Go to the deli section, especially in mainland Europe. You'll likely find all sort of fatty animal products.
Calorie dense, nutrient dense, tasty, and every grocer will have it. You can get freshly made from the deli area (cut to how much you want) or canned/tinned with the tinned meat section. Even comes in single serving sizes. They normally have a few preservatives and gluten. I often get Chicken Liver Pâté from Marks&Spencers since it has the least extra ingredients, but it is a largeer packages so requires refrigeration.
Cheese and butter (see dairy tips below)
Summer sausages since jerky is not easily available.
Normally some extra ingredients and very high in pork or beef fat
In England you can sometimes find pork scratchings which are a travel food I like.
If being fish smelly is not a concern (food actually smells here!) you can get Tinned Mackerel in Spring Water. Omega3 heaven.
If you like coconut, some Tesco's (a grocery store) have these 50g individual packs of coconut cream. A staple when I backpack. And in Indian areas of town you can find dried shredded coconut in bags. Perfect snack food and not as crazy looking as downing a block of coconut cream.
Pubs can have great meals like lamb shoulder, pork belly, oh my! Just don't go to a chain pub like 'Wetherspoons'.
If it's Sunday, go to a pub and have a Sunday Roast.
The English know how to eat breakfast. Get a full English/Irish/Scottish and discard what you don't want, like the toast and beans.
Italy: I did ok there save being forced to sit at a few pizza places.
You should still have some gelato, but only if it's from a real place. Not the mass produced crap.
France: Just make sure it's not a sandwich or pasta shop. Other than that, the French know how to eat REAL FOOD.
Dairy specific tips
OMG, THEY HAVE REAL CHEESE AND BUTTER! Also, their cows (especially in Ireland/England) are generally grown on grass and clover fields.
Seriously, the stuff we have in the US should not be called cheese. You can find a raw brie, amazingly aged cheddar, or one of the many versions of Swiss cheese (it's not called swiss cheese) in EVERY grocery store.
THE BUTTER! If you love good butter, go to that section of a store while in England (their butter is better than Europe's). You'll see you're Kerry Gold amongst a dozen other butters that are it's equal or greater. Golden golden butter.
In England, raw milk is hard to come by, so forget about that unless you wander to farmers markets.
Struggles of Europe
While the overall quality of everyday food is better, finding some items will be impossible.
In most average size US cities, you can find anything if you are willing to drive to the store. And you can order ANYTHING online. That is not the case in Europe.
Difficult to find jerky/biltong. When found it's normally wheat or sugar loaded. Alternative: summer sausages
Coconut products are sometimes not available.
Breakfast in some countries will be continental. Take it, but just drink the coffee and save what you can for later. That is a perfect time to fast as I did in Rome.
Food labelling sucks. For example, dutch-processed cocoa will still say natural. No mention of alkali processing.
Even more information
If passing through London, and need any help, just let me know. I travel through, and help other travellers through couchsurfing.org so have given my share of tours and helped folks navigate.
We've traveled to Europe quite a bit, and don't worry, the meats, cheeses, veggies, and fruits are plentiful and will be enough to keep you in culinary heaven! Even in Italy it's easy to get main courses that are not pasta - in fact, pasta is not the main course typically, it's a side dish.
On the down side, having escargot in Paris just isn't the same without crusty bread to sop up all that garlic/wine sauce.... :-)
When I travel for a couple of days away from home I make sure to leave with some hamburgers already cooked (no bun of course), cheese slices, coconut oil with a spoon, cooked hotdogs, sometimes cans of sardines, hard boiled eggs, occasionally nuts. I have been known to survive up to 3 days without hitting a restaurant or shop.
I'd say eat the cake and keep it. Order your own meals as paleo as possible, and taste a bite from your friend's meal!
The food of a culture is a very big aspect of traveling, so it's not worth to miss out! I've missed out on a lot b/c I was vegetarian before, and now I wish I could go back and taste it.
Do definitely not take any food with you. There are plenty of options that would work in Europe as well.
Dude, you'll be more than fine! France & switzerland offer an incredible amount of cheeses, meats & preparations that involve generous helpings of tallow and other sweet animal fats ... a full english breakfast (w/o toast of course) is to die for ... ever tried Haggis?
In essence, just skip the cheap packaged bistro shit, same as everywhere ...
Dude... avoid the bread/pasta and live it up. Oh my god I'd be gorging myself on stinking rounds of raw soft cheeses, dried meats, and hit up those markets. I'm not saying eat things that make you sick, but life's too short to be all Orthorexic when you're in the two best countries in Europe for food. Just eat real food which over there isn't very hard. If it's something somebody's great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food, don't eat it. If it were me going to Italy and France I'd just enjoy myself and only skip the stuff that actually makes me sick (like for me, that's wheat.)