Trekking cuisine is a world unto itself. Although lodges’ plastic-coated menus promise tempting international delicacies, such items may turn out to be “paindaina” (unavailable), and you’ll notice that the spring rolls, enchiladas, pizzas and pancakes all bear more than a passing resemblance to chapatis.
But at any rate, eggs, porridge, muesli and noodles are reassuringly familiar, and the basic pasta and rice dishes always on offer are at least filling. Goodies like chocolate and biscuits are always available, too. In highland areas you’ll be able to eat such Tibetan dishes as momo, thukpa and riki kur, and instead of porridge you might be served tsampa. At lower elevations, daal bhaat, chow mein, packet noodles and seasonal vegetables are standard.
When ordering, bear in mind that the cook can only make one or two things at a time, and there may be many others ahead of you: simplify the process and save fuel by coordinating your order with other trekkers. Daal bhaat may be the most filling choice but also the slowest, as you may find yourself waiting till all the Western food orders are done. Most innkeepers expect orders to be placed several hours in advance, and there’s usually a notepad floating around for keeping a tally of everything you’ve eaten; you pay on departure, or at breakfast. Eating dinner at a lodge other than the one where you’re staying is very much frowned upon.
Tea and hot lemon are traditionally the main drinks on the trail, though coffee is found everywhere. Bottled soft drinks, bottled water and even beer are common along the popular routes, but the price of each bottle rises for each extra day it has to be portered from the nearest road. Don’t miss trying chhang, raksi and tongba, and the delicious apple cider and apple raksi sporadically available in the Everest and Jomosom regions.