Saturday, June 21, 2008

Condiment of the Month: Nutella

I'm sitting at the local coffee shop next to Hun, sipping on a icy and refreshing beverage, and writing about general malaise. I note to some chagrin that I have not posted in almost a month. So much for best-laid resolutions of blogging at least once per week. I miss writing--time to fire up my neurons again.

I am also hungry. Not hungry (or "hugry") as I was in my last post, as much as hungering for a little adventure. My feet are itching for some exploration and travel, as it is the season for me (although fall is the season of choice for Frodo and Bilbo).

I always enjoyed family vacations. But the best adventure I have ever undertaken (notwithstanding the ongoing adventure of married life), was my 3-month trip around Europe. I recognize it is a bit pale in adventure to some of my more worldly friends, but during that time I saw all the wonders I only read about, read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and fell in love with myself again. My biggest stress each day was to find a roof over my head and figure out what sites I would first hit. I met some interesting people and made some friends along the way. All the while, my diet consisted mostly with fresh-baked bread, wine, and Nutella.

I fell in love with Nutella while I was PMSing in France. Although my unwelcome Aunt Flo followed me across the Atlantic, Nutella kept my aggravations at bay. Nutella comforted me on days I felt more than lonely, was a quick gnash in the morning before heading to a museum, a wonderful wind-down snack while lounging in a hostel and sharing the beloved jar with fellow travelers in the mood for the tasty morsel or just some conversation.

I also discovered how wonderful Nutella is with bananas in Switzerland, and traded Nutella for some Vegemite in Munich. I chatted about life, the universe, and everything with some Aussies, some Irish honeymooners, and some Harvard Law students--influenced by generous amounts of red wine, topped off with Nutella when the philosophical drunkenness drowned into hunger.

Some Nutella paved the way for some girls to ask me to tour Rome with them. I wouldn't have seen the city otherwise--I heard too many horror stories about it at the time to travel through Rome alone. Rome wound up being my favorite place in my European tour, and I owe the opportunity presenting itself to Nutella.

When I returned, I went on hiking trips and camping trips with a jar of Nutella in my backpack to keep my energy up. Before the airline restrictions on carryons, I would sneak Nutella on flights to munch on long rides.

I don't practice the "have Nutella, will travel" philosophy so much today. With my slowing matabolism and Hun to keep me company, I'm more likely to pack sun screen than the chocolate-hazelnut spread. I didn't bring Nutella with me to Thailand, nor to any of the cities I've seen along the East Coast. But to this day, when I see Nutella, I still think about how the age of Conan the Barbarian was described: these are the days of high adventure.

In a couple of weeks, Hun and I will have passed a couple of milestones. He will officially be finished with half of his grad program--and have completed a mojo-important test. We will also have completed our first year of married life. We will be celebrating by enjoying fireworks by the Brooklyn Bridge. Although no Nutella graces our cupboards, I still think our time here in Upstated New York has been (and will continue to be) filled with high adventure.