A friend told me recently that in the US there is a healthy eating campaign in which the government is encouraging people to eat as much colour as possible, as colours generally mean fresh fruit and vegetables full of vitamins and minerals.
With this in mind I laugh ruefully at the food presented to me on a plastic tray on my 23-hour bus ride to Patagonia. It probably would be funnier were this not my third ‘beige’ meal in under 24 hours. Dinner the night before had been a cold milanesa with rice, a bread roll, crackers and a cake. Okay, so maybe not strictly beige, but distinctly lacking in colours nonetheless. Breakfast: more crackers, sweetened coffee with powdered milk, a strange almost-alfajor and dulce de leche. Again, variations on brown to white, definitely passing through beige along the way.
Now lunch: a bread roll, two slices of white bread with some re-constituted watery ham (pink – colours at last!) and tasteless cheese (so many cows, such little cheese with flavour…), more crackers and a cake.
Anyone on the Atkins diet should be advised against riding with Andesmar. (Although they did have on-board bingo which almost made up for the less-than-nutritious dinner.) It really was carbohydrate-tastic, as meals go, and very stodgy and tasteless.
Then I got to thinking about your average Argentine staples: medialunas, tostados, empanadas, bread, pasta, pizza, milanesa, tortilla… Even meat almost fits into the beige-brown spectrum. Vegetables are not big.
You go for a drink in a bar and get peanuts, palitos (strange straw-like snack things) or crisps. You go for a meal and a loaf of bread is presented to you as you order, generally with some sort of dip. A coffee is accompanied by biscuits or a small portion of cake. And I wonder why my waistline is bulging. It is hard to eat healthily in Argentina. And expensive. The price of vegetables is going through the roof.
But besides the cost advantages, the main problem is that ‘beige’ tastes good. Medialunas are amazing on a hangover – and even the fact that the two kinds are grease (grasa) and lard (manteca) does not put me off ordering them. The pizza is great and that’s without even starting on empanadas…
I just need to exercise a little more self-discipline. Or exercise a little more. And take less long-distance bus journeys.