I worked at the Broadcasting Board of Governors for three years in DC before I took my job in Prague. Our building was near the Federal Center SW metro, aka Land Where Food Options Are Nonexistent. I guess there was a Starbucks, a Potbelly’s, a strange salad/Chinese food bar, and (as a last resort) the cafeteria in the building (I heard reports of cockroaches but also reports of good souvlaki? I once got a slice of pizza and a V8 there under difficult circumstances) but nothing remarkable.
I typically brought my lunch with me (as I’d been doing at work for the last 10 years) — ideally cooking a large meal on Sundays and portioning it out in tupperware for the whole week.
After I moved to Prague, whoa, completely different lunch/eating routine. The cafeteria at work (so far no reports of creepy crawlies) is a bit quirky, but I’m able to eat new and semi-exciting foods every day. It is super weird to go from eating, like, rice with kale every weekday to eating a plate of something new every lunchtime. There is a Persian chef, so sometimes there are specials like Turkish pide (essentially a bread boat filled with meat = nomnomnom). Also, being originally Russian, I’m into the prepared salad selection, which is a lot of variations on cucumber-tomato salad. Once there was even vinegret (hands down, one of my favorite foods), though it was definitely an odd variation of it which included kidney beans.
Anyway, below are photos of 18 of my lunches. There are high points (grilled tuna steak with roasted vegetables) and low points (floppy cheese tortellini plus salad) but overall pretty solid!
4:15pm: Lufthansa flight arrives. Suspense. Mystery. Will my bike (last seen in DC, being puzzled over by the Lufthansa check-in people at IAD) make it?!
I get my checked bag off the carousel, and then have a first sighting of the bike in the Oversized Luggage Department elevator. After waiting ten minutes for the official oversized luggage official to get there, I recover the bike. It has a TSA sticker on it, the bike lights are semi-broken, and the chain is twisted up, but otherwise not bad. I fix the chain in the middle of the airport and then try to rub the bike grease from my hands on to my hair to cover my tracks. (This doesn’t work.)
I meet my taxi driver (and don’t shake hands with him, see: bike grease). We fit the bike into his minivan-like thing and I consider this whole ‘flying with a bike’ thing a success.
6pm: Arrive at temporary apartment. There is living room with some strange art and shelves that I will never fill. I anticipate spending most of my time in the kitchen and eating nook. After making a half-hearted effort to put my things in drawers, I give up and go to the grocery store two blocks away.
Items purchased at grocery store: yogurt, yogurt, yogurt, kefir, tvarog, goat cheese, butter, fresh cabbage, pickled cabbage, leek, dill, salami, eggs, a bottle of beer, a bottle of (Czech) wine, Nescafe, garlic powder, paprika, mysterious bottled beverage which turns out to be pickled cabbage juice.
Come home, eat dinner (pickled red cabbage, goat cheese, salami, and beer) and actually unpack.
8pm: Meet only friend in Prague at a cafe for a beer. He has goulash, I have a cigarette. It’s about 92 degrees outside at this point and he accuses me of importing DC weather to Prague.
9pm: Go the the grocery store again for salt, hot sauce, paper towels, and chocolate. It’s at this point that I regret not “importing” hot sauce from DC in my carry-on baggage.
Getting home I open the Czech wine. It’s not bad! I drink a glass with some chocolate and then try to go to sleep around 11. Lol.
2am: THUNDERSTORM O’CLOCK. The apartment is humid, the thunder is less than a second away from the lightning, and my windows are clattering as though infested with ghosts. There’s someone in the hallway having an unreasonably loud conversation for 2am.
I send some sad texts/gchats to people, for a hot second try to sleep on my kitchen floor, and then give up and sit in bed for about an hour before falling back asleep.
7:30am: Shower (top benefit of the apartment: good water pressure, nothing weird going on with the shower, the TSA didn’t take my shampoo away), Nescafe, yogurt for breakfast, and then awkward sitting until it’s time to go to work.
9am: I don’t really remember the next 8.5 hours. I drank at least three tiny coffees, had some meetings, tried not to fall asleep or cry at my desk, and forgot everyone’s name. Mentioned the thunderstorm to two coworkers who had no idea what I was talking about. Did I hallucinate a thunderstorm? I have an ID card from work now, so at least there is proof that this day happened.
5:30pm: Walk home. I used my “furnished” kitchen to make fried cabbage with eggs, hot sauce, and garlic powder. And then tvorog with chocolate on it for dessert. And ok, like half a bottle of wine, I won’t lie. (But seriously, the Czech wine — really not bad! I think it was $4-5 and better than equivalent Trader Joe’s products).
8:30pm: Exhausted but convince myself to go on a walk while using Facetime audio to talk to people. Fun fact: I have T-Mobile so although I can’t call anyone for free, my international data is free. On the walk I see a man holding a snake (tourist trap), a woman on her back in the middle of a public square (drunk? tourist? unclear), and a lot of dogs. While talking to me on the phone, Richard googles the Czech Republic’s positions on social policies and tried to figure out what Czech movie star I should date. We don’t really have a lot of luck on the latter.
10:30pm: Get home. Now I have more Fitbit steps than anyone for the day, which tbh was really the secret point of the walk (sorry everyone). Go to sleep, hoping that a combination of walking, xanax, and melatonin will help with not waking up every hour.
6am: Not the best sleep in the world, not the worst sleep in the world, but at least I don’t feel 100% like a zombie anymore. Time for Nescafe (I swear I will figure out an actual coffee solution soon, but so far this is the closest to coffee that I have the emotional energy for).