Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Loaves and Fishes

We are just back from a spectacular trip to Iceland and the UK.  The adventure was marvelous, in the true sense of the word.

Before we left, I was most excited about the wild, unexpected natural landscapes we would see: glaciers and deep water lakes and rugged coastlines, bathed in clear northern light at all hours of the day.  I harbored secret hope of capturing puffins with my telephoto lens, and artistic shots of craggy volcanic formations against a backdrop of clouds and sky.  I planned to become an intrepid hiker (this was more of a delusion, but bear with me), summiting mountains with my delighted and grateful offspring behind me (again, I was definitely fuzzy here, given that I am highly unlikely to a) summit anything; b) do so ahead of my athletic, long-legged children; or c) be thanked for making them climb up hills in nature). 

There would be quaint crafts for purchase at the end.

All of that (mostly) came true.

What I did not expect was the food.

Every meal began with freshly baked bread, each different from the next, and all of them delicious. Breakfast with seeded rye, lunch with a crusty baguette, dinner with a crunchy whole wheat round.   From a roadside farmhouse.  From an otherwise completely nondescript motel dining room.  From a gourmet restaurant in Reykjavik.  Hearty, heavenly bread, with that glorious European butter and homemade jams of all kinds.  

We ate gelato made from the milk of cows we met that day, and lamb straight out of the wild meadows all around us.  

And, oh, the fish!  Arctic char that practically fell from the boat onto a grill. Gently smoked trout. Flaky, tender, utterly fresh salmon with a simple creamy herb sauce.  It was so overwhelmingly good that we could only open another bottle of wine and toast to our good fortune nightly.

Yes, I'd planned on taking a break from this program while we travelled.  But I had not planned on eating with so much joy.  That will stay with me even longer than the images of the icebergs and the cliffs over the sea.


Perhaps joy is a metabolism booster.  Or maybe if you mountain climb, slabs of butter are less fattening than usual.  I'd been prepared for a massive step back when I got on the scale this morning, and instead...

As they say in Iceland, Húrra!