Drawings by Lois Long
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You carry a small portable rice cooker and an immersion heater, various plugs, extension cords, and converters for foreign exchange in your luggage. It is extremely important to be knowledgeable about the various shapes and forms and power of plugs for different countries. There have recently been advertisements concerning a single compact converter with a variety of plugs and outlets to be useful in any country, but I am skeptical, having had too many casualties for lack of a variety of appliances in one country or another. I still carry extra plugs for all. The wall plug necessary for England is a three-pronged monster, and you must have one with the proper amperes, wattage, power, whatever or your dinner is a no-show. My carry-on satchel in which I place the cooker, the converter, the various extensions and plugs includes, for example, an extra-long plug to fit into modern hotel outlets that use recent-type vacuums with long plugs to ward off such marauders as myself. The satchel also holds whatever food I carry to avoid the airplane cuisine. It requires dexterity and cunning to get all that is necessary into the satchel, but once on the plane and having looked at the menu the stewardess has grandly placed in my lap, I am overjoyed with my “carry-on.”

Upon arrival at the hotel and reaching your room, and after finding the mini-bar and removing the various liquids and plastic containers of nuts and candies the hotel provides, you open the suitcase that has clothes surrounding the various cooking essentials and staples to keep them protected from the horrors of airplane luggage compartments.

The rice cooker comes with two measuring cups (each a small useful plastic container, easily misplaced, and important to keep track of for measuring), one container rice to two containers water. Water, of course, is important. Bring with you or seek out immediately a source for a decent bottled variety, whether through the hotel or the nearest food store.

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Okay, you have the staples, brown rice and beans, and now—more frequently than in the early macro-touring days—have obtained some fresh vegetables from a local health food store (they are increasing in number and in unlikely places—the Grand Appetit in the Marais, Paris, for example). You can embellish the meal with smoked salmon and lemon, a decent whole-grain loaf of bread or crackers, and a bottle of red wine, not necessarily macrobiotic, but convivial.

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The next step is to search for the electrical outlet. If there is more than one, gratitude abounds. The finding of an outlet sounds simple, but more often than not, the only one is behind a large, heavy, and totally useless piece of furniture covered with the hotel’s printed material advertising its charms and what number to call to reserve a room in the next charming place in their chain.

If the search for an outlet is successful in a reasonable amount of time, you go to the next step. But if, as often, the outlet remains invisible, you remember David Tudor’s dictum: “There has to be one. The maid needs it for the vacuum.” I recall a closet of a room in London where it was necessary to request the appearance of and aid from David Tudor. He searched and found it hidden behind the TV, invisible to all except his—and presumably the maid’s—sharp eye.

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