MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Food, glorious food (or at least edible)

My diet has taken a turn for the … abnormal.

Today I hit the halfway point of my Olympics trip to Sochi, eleven days since touching down in the Russian resort town.

And food, in my life, has never been more functional.

Let me be clear: normally, I love food. Good food. I love trying cuisines of all nations and replicating them in my kitchen. I love picking out a top selection on Yelp or OpenTable and giving it a try. I love visiting places that have deep culinary traditions.

I also eat consistently. I rarely miss a meal, and I eat various snacks throughout the day to satisfy my wide-beyond-its-years appetite.

Now, I eat to stay nourished, and I eat with the goal of not being hungry for the foreseeable future.

And my only glimpse of authentic Russian cuisine happens at breakfast.


Check out this plate: a perfectly healthy, delicious, and free (!) meal, thanks to our hotel. The Russians, I am told, love their fish; at least at this hotel, they also love serving their salmon smoked and in long slices.

The meal also includes two classic Russian vegetables, cucumber and tomato, and Russian pancakes, which are less sweet than American ones.

(I am told this is typical of Russian cuisine: they do not use nearly as much salt and sugar.)

When I get to eat this breakfast, I always enjoy it.

But it is atypical.

The rest of the time, I eat food from the NBC commissary, which provides a varied, balanced, and still free (!) buffet for all of its Olympic employees.


(It also has a Starbucks, where the volunteer once wrote my name as Math.)

The commissary is where food becomes function. All of it, I have been told, is actually shipped from America, which means two things: (1) I do not have to search for something authentically Russian, and (2) the food is not exactly brand-new.

But it is fine, sometimes even quite tasty, and it fills an important role.

I go to the commissary when I need a fill-up of energy. I try to stick to a three-meals-a-day philosophy, but I typically eat five or six mini-meals, usually selecting food by convenience.


Often I eat those meals at my desk.

Haphazard? Yes. Unglamorous? Absolutely. But on a trip like this, where I am responsible for so many different variables, I take any chance I can get to simplify my operation. In the case of my diet, I try to eat vegetables and fruit whenever possible, stay filled up on carbohydrates and water, and avoid eating anything too unhealthy (although I definitely occasionally indulge).

And whenever possible, I sit down to that smoked salmon breakfast, and I savor it.

FOR MORE ON MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Savoring the “small” moments
FOR MORE ON MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Churning out the content

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at

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