Mostly we eat bread and jam, and pasta cooked on the Trangia with tinned sardines/tomatoes/cheese which gives us energy for hills. However we’ve come across some free, weird, and wonderful food which we’ve devoured, and I wanted to know what we’re getting nutritionally:
Boza/ ‘Liquid Bread’: this is very strange stuff, which we saw two little old ladies drinking in Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia). They seemed to know their way around Bosnian food so we followed suit and had no idea what we were drinking until we researched.
It was cold, a little sweet, vinegary and tasted a bit like cucumbers. James yummed his up, but I was caught between deliciousness and nausea as the texture was so new. It’s actually fermented corn, supposedly good for lactation, has 1% alcohol content and has been drunk in what was Yugoslavia for centuries, traditionally being what soldiers lived on.
‘One litre of boza contains 1000 calories’ (!), ‘four types of vitamins A and B, and vitamin E. During fermentation lactic acid, which is contained by few foods, is formed, and this facilitates digestion.’
Seasame Havla Bars: ‘Havla’ means ‘sweet’ in Arabic. In Eastern Europe and beyond it applies to desserts. However, we have seen ‘Havla’ in Eastern Europe and onwards as referring to seasame sweets. We were in a service station in Macedonia, and knackered, hot and dusty we saw the alluring shiny packets of ‘healthy energy dose’.
It’s sweet, rubbery, rough on the tongue and sweats in the heat. It was perfectly suited to our needs at 500 calories per 250g bar, 23g of fat, some artificial vanilla/chocolate flavouring and something on the ingredients called ‘soup mix’ which is probably best left uninvestigated.
Börek: This probably makes up an unhealthy amount of our diet, but Burek/Börek is cheap, reliable, full of calories and varies between deep fried phyllo pastry filled with ‘cheese, often feta, minced meat, potato or vegetables’ – also poppy or seasame seeds, or apples.
It usually contains around 500 calories a 200g serving (we eat about 2 each), nil vitamins or minerals to speak of, 30% of your daily saturated fat, 41% of your recommended sodium, 6% of recommended fiber, and too few carbohydrates (bar the potato version).
However, we can get 4 of them for well under 1 euro, and they are so delicious we don’t care.
Raw Cold Drawn Honey: We have a new emerging obsession with bees and bee keeping. In the name of research, we like to try local honey, even if it costs more than our budget really allows. ‘One tablespoon of honey has 64 calories, and one tablespoon of sugar has 46 calories’. Darker honeys have more antioxidants and are more tarry and delicious. Honey has a range of vitamins and trace minerals, but because it differs depending on flowers and the area, you can’t really say specifically how much of anything is in there.
Interesting honey fact: you can tell the percentage of trace minerals by how conductive the honey is; the well know Manuka honey for instance is 4x as conductive as ‘standard’ honey.
Figs: These grow at the roadside and are free. We are living proof that eating many figs does not give you the runs, as sometimes we eat 8-10 a day! They are surprisingly high in calories at 74 per 100gs of fig; they contain a good range of B-complex vitamins; about the same A vitamins as is in apples, and are ‘excellent sources of minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc’ especially dried. Hurrah!
Squid/Calamari: These are tender and delicious just eaten with bread, or stuffed with other seafood or meat. We found some in Zagreb (Croatia) which were as big as my hand. The restaurant James alludes to is well worth a visit. They are crispy on the tentacles, rubbery, with a light fish taste on the flesh. Purr.
Squid has around 92 calories per 100g, 1 g of fat, 246mg potassium (which is essential for muscular activity), 44mg of sodium, 0g sugar, minimal carbohydrates but 15g of protein which is pretty good; 400g of squid and you’re almost at your daily needs of around 70g/day.
Though high in cholesterol, this is ok for us because of all the cycling, and there’s some evidence to say the cholestrol is non-harmful in any case.
Squid also contains some harder to get at stuff like zinc, copper and magnesium, which help with everything from red blood cell formation to the immune system, and vitamin B12 and B2, which respectively help with heart disease prevention and help stabilize blood sugar. (http://healthmad.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-squid/)
*Nutritional info quoted is from Wikipedia or myfitnesspal.com.