By Jenna Blumenfeld of Ovenzest.blogspot.com
You have done your homework. You have researched diligently for hours. You have made reservations, mapped out routes and planned meals. But despite the effort, sometimes even the savviest vegetarians find themselves in a bind, stuck with an unexpected meal that contains meat. It happens.
Rather than go hungry, the competent traveling vegetarian improvises with the age-old combination of bread and cheese.
Almost every culture in the world has a form of bread. France has its baguettes, India has its naan, Mediterranean regions have pita, South America has tortillas. Count these variations in carbohydrates a blessing, because when bread it well made, it provides a base for an extremely satisfying improvised meal.
It is important to look for bread that is handmade with few ingredients. Stay away from large scale grocery stores that sell pre-packaged, pre-sliced bread. Opt instead for small bakeries or market carts. Pick a loaf that was made in the last few hours to ensure freshness and flavor, and if you are dining on the fly, most places can slice the bread for you on the premises.
Next stop: the cheese shop. Parmigiano-Reggiano is always a staple. With its sharp and nutty finish, a hefty shard of this cheese makes a fine addition to bread. Try more pungent cheeses like a Spanish Leonora or a French Roquefort to enhance the complexity of your meal. Now stack the cheese on the bread. Eat. Repeat.
Put simply, people have been eating this humble vegetarian meal of bread and cheese for centuries, and have refined these relatively mundane ingredients of flour, yeast, salt and milk into edible works of art. With access to a few well-made cheeses and fresh bread, a vegetarian will never feel deprived when improvising a meal.
And in the rare event that bread and cheese are nowhere to be found, let me remind you that beer and chocolate are always meat-free.