Today's my second day off in Alice Springs, and my second day of not doing much of anything – except eating.
So I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about the food I eat whilst rolling through (or sleeping in) the Outback; in town, the answer to this question is “everything”.
One of the first questions people ask after discovering I'm traveling via bicycle is, “What do you eat?”
Typically, I launch into a speech about my mission to live off the land and harvest everything I need from my surroundings – hunting rodents, eating tree bark, and gathering water from desert plant roots. But chances are that you, dear reader, are wise to my tricks by now and know that I simply enjoy exploring the limits of people's gullibility.
As much as I love the occasional beef stroganoff from Mountain House, I am still stoveless. This means my out-of-town meals are crafted without the use of fire or boiling water (aka I'm not a very high-level wizard).
In case you're one of those “I could never be stoveless because I wouldn't survive without my coffee” types, know that I don't drink coffee. Not for any unjustifiable “I'm better than you” reason, but instead, because I hate the taste (trust me, I've tried – a lot).
That being said, the diet fueling my (sometimes) quickly rotating lower body consists of the following:
- Hot sauce (Sriracha on everything)
- Tortillas (the softer the better)
- Sometimes bread (soft/white)
- Cheese (no pepperjack in Australia)
- Assorted deli meat (ham's always the cheapest)
- Trail mix (nuts are expensive)
- Muesli bars (they're alright)
- Dried fruit (mangos = win)
- Apples (granny smith or pink lady)
- Tangerines (for throwing at cars)
- Carrots (to help me see)
- Crackers (sometimes hummus)
- Cookies (because sugar)
- Candy (M&M's and Sour Patch)
- Lots of candy (anything cheap)
- Did I mention candy?
It's not much variety, but it gets the job done – I'm eating for calories.
If you're thinking, “My lord, I can't believe that's all he eats,” then fear not. The longest I've gone without passing a roadhouse, gas station, or provider of mediocre roadside food has been something like 48 hours (aka I can get something hot, although not necessarily healthy, every couple of days).
Unless I pass somewhere I can get indoors and escape the hell that is the fly-infested Australian Outback, I can no longer stop to eat lunch or relax during the day (as was the case back in Victoria).
Instead of lunch, my food consumption during the day consists of quick roadside stops where (remaining on my bike) I eat whatever bars, trail mix, or candy I decided to put into my handlebar bag that morning.
Breakfast and dinner take place safe in my tent, early in morning (normally before sunrise) or after sundown. These meals mostly consist of ham, cheese, and hot sauce rolled in tortillas, followed by (but sometimes preceded by) the shoveling of handfulls of candy into my mouth (is there anything better?).
Before entering the Outback, small grocery stores and bakeries were fairly common, but after leaving Port Augusta things have thinned out dramatically.
The roadhouses I encounter usually have fried offerings (I think most of it's edible), sandwiches, and burgers (that's all I notice). For as barren as I imagined the Outback being, my problem isn't running out of food – it's having too much. Now, whenever I head into a store (especially a supermarket) I buy far too much, thinking that my next opportunity to do so is far off in the future.
Even though I love that first meal out of the supermarket (I'm getting hungry just thinking about it – and I just ate), my favorite food of the trip has been the offerings of the Grey Nomads.
These lovely people have taken very good care of me thus far, and their unexpected generosity has done wonders to lift my spirits and motivate me to continue pedaling.
So what are your thoughts? Anything you would add to be panniers? Any Australian snacks I'm missing out on? Stoveless secrets to let me in on?
Leave a comment and let me know!
- DAY OFF IN ALICE SPRINGS
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 0 mi / 0 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 1,521.08 mi / 2,447.84 km