Cooking and Travel: An Rx to Treat the Travel Itch


The first installment of a trip to Europe opens up a culinary wonderland.

Overlooking the Mediterranean on the way to Granada


Valencia oranges

Chicken paella

Last year, my husband and I decided we wanted to travel. Now, don’t misunderstand. Weekend trips to destinations around the United States, road trips throughout the Midwest, and city walks within our comfort zone have always been a part of our lifestyle. But this time, we decided we really wanted to travel. Spending most of our summers growing up working, then back to school, and straight off to work, we both realized we had never had that “summer in Europe.” So, when were we going to do it? Retirement seemed so far away—especially when an ordinary Tuesday makes you think that Friday will never come.

I had so many thoughts in my mind. Would the places we visited feel and look how I thought they would? There was so much culture I wanted to experience with my husband. Evidence of ancient civilizations my husband wanted to see with his own eyes—history he had only read about.

So we did it. We traveled. We took time off from both our jobs, hopped on a jet, and lived a little. As a pharmacist and cook, I found myself amazed by the different types of pharmacies we discovered. I took pictures and peered in all of them like a tourist. I tried to eat like a local and bring back recipes that would remind me of all the fun experiences we were having. Still, I must admit, I did crave American food every now and then—and finally succumbed at a McDonalds in Athens. All in all, though, I experienced a part of life that made me relaxed and smile every day.

I share my travels with many of my patients and the people I meet. Once you develop a love for food and culture, it is hard to kick the travel bug. Reality may always be close by, but I try my best to have a little “summer in Europe“ every day.

First stop: Spain

A country filled with beautiful mountains, olive trees, oranges, and breathtaking coastlines. Spanish cities are full of amazing old world charm and modern architecture. Excitement consumes you from 10 am until the late hours of the night. Did I mention the sangria? Or the ham? Or the churros (Spanish doughnuts)? I know I forgot to mention the wine, gazpacho, Manchego cheese, and saffron-laced paella. I am not a food critic. Nor am I a trained chef. But I am a chemist and a food lover. My opinion has to count for something. Take a look at a few of our pictures and you will surely come to the conclusion that Spain has to be on your bucket list.

Chicken Paella


1 tbsp olive oil

2 oz chicken sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup brown rice

1 tsp saffron

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks

1 cup frozen peas

1 sliced red bell pepper

Chopped parsley and scallions to taste


Heat oil in a large skillet. Add sausage and cook for 3 minutes, crushing with a wooden spoon. Add onion, celery, and salt. Saute for 3 minutes. Stir in brown rice. Stir saffron into chicken broth and add to pan. Bring to a boil and add chicken. Cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in peas and sliced bell pepper. Serve in bowls and top with parsley and scallions.

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