My Frugal Days in Europe Were Lovely

By Georgia Puiatti, March 13, 2019

My Frugal Days in Europe Were Lovely Image

4 euros a day is scarce.

I’d like to depict myself as somebody who thrives in such situations. However, this facade also sees me with a glass of rosé and a pile of oily pasta.

20.42pm and I’ve come to appreciate that I’ve compromised aspects of both images in my recently devoured meal. I’d like every other person in Europe, or in their home, or wherever they may be eating, to also feel lustful and sexy whilst scraping for their last pennies. So here goes a short rendition of how I made it work.

Foundations are essential to execute this money-scarce way of living. While I’d usually appreciate pink Himalayan salt, in such particular circumstance I found myself referring to table salt as my ‘saving grace’. And I’ll be honest, in the depths of an Airbnb cupboard was a humbly nestled bottle of local artisan olive oil. A bottle that happily made a new home within my suitcase, a sin I’ll never feel the shame of. 

As to nobody’s disbelief the tomatoes sold in Italy were out of this world. They had the ability to change my perception of a what a good bruschetta was. Simply tomatoes, basil, red onion, salt and oil. 3.46 euros. The taste of a ripe Italian summer, I ate this regally under the burnt Tuscan sun. Wine did blow the budget slightly, yet it was so irresistible, sold in single serving cartons. White wine and bread made up a large portion of my diet.

As the days passed I longed for something new, something different, something inspiring. I surrendered to this yearning in the creation of a new bruschetta. Think crisp season peaches, briny salted olives, red onion, salt and oil. 2.50 euros, a pleasing price, a pleasing feed.

Peach bruschetta eventually dissipated as my fondness of pickles grew. A girl, a very beautiful girl, gave me a pickle and that’s were the story began. The price of pickles is cheap, another reason for me to flirt with this fermented vegetable. I began to eat simply peaches, pickles and on the rare occasion a handful of dried figs. A combination that emerged from a state of desperation and a lust for dill pickles. 

A mention should be made to the vast accessibility to markets in Europe. I was drawn to lapping up and down streets, gawking at the brimming vendors. Notable purchases made within the markets included bread, plenty of loaves of bread; sourdough, olive studded, wholegrain, pana de casa. Carbs were admittedly a struggle to surpass. Chutneys, jams, dips of charred eggplant, capsicum, ratatouille, pesto and pulses always made me melt. Mostly bread was the vehicle for these condiments, accompanied by a piece of fruit and dinner was on the table. A theoretical table as I mostly ate on park benches.

I found myself thriving on a 4-euro-a-day budget. As people around me in restaurants drank wine and ate crispy skin fish, I rather immersed myself in the simple pleasures of the people’s food. I am being melodramatic, I did plenty of that myself, but I learnt to be frugal, yet kind to my innate self who cherishes the palatability of quality sustenance.

Europe was a blessing, just fucking expensive one.

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