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Why Cold Pizza Is (and Isn’t) the Perfect Ski Snack

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I was wearing ski boots when I ate one of the greatest meals of my life, and it came from a vending machine. It was January 2016, and I was skiing mustache-deep powder in Japan. I bought a hot coffee in a can that clanged out of the machine and three curry-stuffed hot buns. I stood while I ate, and I’m nearly positive I unhinged my jaw and swallowed the meal whole like a python consuming a deep-fried Buick.

Although I was so ravenous that I’m lucky I didn’t also eat my hands—and honestly, at that point, I would’ve gobbled unwashed long johns dipped in ranch dressing—the meal was shockingly delicious. When you’re 6’5”, skiing snow deeper than you are tall works up a special kind of hunger, and anything you eat becomes instantly and equally memorable.

You’ll likely not be shocked to hear that when I chat about skiing on Hokkaido, I always remark on every day being the deepest, greatest day of my life. But I also never fail to mention the food. And maybe that’s not that odd.

You see, I ski because I am hungry. And I am hungry because I ski.

No one in my life knows this quite like my wife, Carly, who packs extra ski snacks for me in the off chance I get hangry and throw a tantrum like a preschooler who skipped naptime. And by off chance, I mean to say with near certainty. Almost all our ski adventures—before, after, and during—involve tasty vittles. But I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think we skiers have a deep love affair with ski snackage. Food is as integral to our skiing as…well, as skis. But this isn’t just about ensuring our tanks are filled so we can keep moving. Ski snacks are woven into skiing’s cultural identity.

Think about it. Après is as celebrated as a three-foot storm and happens far more often. Fondue and fancy charcuterie boards hit the belly differently after you’ve shimmied in slush bumps all day. Conversations about our falls, our best days, and our epics all happen over meals. And our favorite wigglers are frugal gourmets.

The ski bum, the most revered and celebrated character in our community, is always applauded for skiing by any means necessary. And every story of a local skid includes their passion for turns and turning the chalet’s free condiments into a DIY meal.

For this episode of the Outside Podcast, I chatted with professional skier Cody Townsend about his strict at-home diet and the surprising snack he uses to fuel his pursuit of all 50 classic North American ski descents. And I spoke with Kylee VanHorn, a registered dietician and endurance athlete coach, about what it really means to bonk and the difference between Kevin Bacon and pocket bacon.

I also needed to find out the emotional link between our hearts and our navels, so I spoke with the head chef of Blanket Glacier Chalet, Heidi Schaffer, and with ski media vet and professional après-er, SKI’s Sierra Shafer.

And I discovered that…well, you should just listen to the episode.