Travel Adventures

A Pescetarian in Texas

IMG_0133Living in Austin makes me think vegetarianism is normal. You can hardly find a restaurant that doesn’t have some type of vegetarian menu items, and many cater to the veggie-only crowd. So when I venture from home, to say, see my parents in a smallish town in Texas, I’m always amazed.

On a recent trip home, I stopped in at a large bakery that has a few locations off the highways of Texas. On the breakfast menu, it had:

  • biscuit $1
  • biscuit with egg and sausage $1.95
  • biscuit with egg and bacon $1.85
  • biscuit with egg $1.50
  • add cheese .50

When the young lady at the cash register asked if she could help me, I asked for a large coffee and a biscuit with egg and cheese.

“Just egg and cheese?” she asked. “No bacon or sausage?”

“No bacon or sausage, just egg and cheese biscuit,” I repeated my order back to her.

“Well, I’m not sure we have that,” she said peering into the case.

When she finally found the one egg biscuit in the bunch, she said, “Oh, I didn’t think we had that. I’ve never had anyone order that before.”

I failed to point out that it was on the menu, since I was tired and ready to get back on the road.

As she grabbed some cheese and microwaved the biscuit and egg, I heard her say to another employee, “I don’t know how to ring this up. Do I just ring it up like the others? Is it the same price?”

Meanwhile, a poor soul who just wanted a refill on his coffee continued to wait for her to come back.

I patiently waited, knowing that by pointing out the price on the menu would likely not hurry things along.

Another employee explained how to ring the meal up and when the cashier came back she reminded me again, “Sorry, but no one had ever ordered it without bacon or sausage before.”

As she told me the total (I’m pretty sure she still charged me for meat), I realized she had been so focused on the fact that she couldn’t believe someone would eat an egg and cheese biscuit without meat that she forgot about the coffee. 

After a few more minutes, I awkwardly took my microwaved egg and cheese biscuit and coffee out to the car to eat, scared that she would gawk at me as I ate this “non-meat” (I mean, egg is a meat, right?) meal if I ate inside. When things like this happen, I just have to laugh.

Now, I’m aware that it seems I’m harshly judging most of my state over one incident, but believe me, this happens pretty much any time I leave the Lone Star state’s capitol.

On another trip, I stopped at the same bakery, but in another part of the state (about three hours southwest of the other location). It was lunchtime and there was a bit of a line. I looked at my options. Just tuna fish and a veggie sandwich.

“Yes! They have a veggie sandwich,” I thought. I love tuna, but it’s a frequent option, so it gets a little old.

When it came my turn, I put in my order.

The young woman asked, “A veggie sandwich?”

“Yes, please,” I responded.

“Ok, well, All we’ve got is lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes, onions, olives and jalepeños,” she listed the ingredients out for me.

The “all we’ve got” did not really get me excited.

“Oh. Um. In that case, I’ll take the tuna sandwich.”

Keep in mind that the veggie sandwich cost just as much as the meat sandwiches that came with a meat, cheese AND all the toppings she just listed out to me. No hummus, no cream cheese, no sauteed veggies were available. And yet, the sandwich was about $10.

When I first became pescetarian, I’d go home to visit my parents and say I was vegetarian, because growing up in this semi-small city, I knew it was unlikely people understood vegetarianism, much less pescetarianism.

Sure enough I’d tell people I didn’t eat meat and they’d respond, “That’s OK. We have chicken.”

Interested in learning more about pescetarianism? Here’s a Huffington Post article I recommend: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chloe-spencer/pescetarianism_b_956965.html

 

San Francisco: Brenda’s French Soul Food


Brenda's storefrontOff Polk Street, in San Francisco, I found the most delightful surprise. I had passed numerous diners—usually a favorite of mine, those diners are—but they seemed to lack life in the Union area of San Francisco. And so I began
looking up restaurants nearby and came across Brenda’s French Soul Food. It had good reviews, so I wandered around the extra 1/2 mile until I finally came upon the unassuming outside. Just a sandwich board, the name and a door with black metal decorative grating around the door and windows.

A man was cleaning the door as I went to open it, but he quickly opened it and led me to an empty table near the front. The inside was fresh and new, though imitating the old in that way restaurants do: A mural on the right of a crawfish with Bon Voyage Shipping Co. on top of old brick, silverware held in Cafe de Monde empty coffee canisters.

Brenda's wallI ordered coffee and water right away and then was left to familiarize myself with the menu. Everything looked and sounded delicious, but the beignet flight ($10) held my interest. I knew I couldn’t eat four beignets even before I saw how large they were, but the chance to try all four flavors was too strong: crawfish, apple, chocolate and plain.

When they arrived, after a neighbor and I realized we didn’t have spoons and so conspired to use our knives to swirl our coffees, I was very, very pleased. Three of the four were dusted in confectioner’s sugar, with the fourth—the only savory beignet—dusted in cayenne.

beignets

 

I started with the savory crawfishcrawfish beignet beignet, which was creamy inside with scallions and cheese. I enjoyed every bite, which reminded me of my time in New Orleans.

I then moved on to the sweets. Not remembering which of the beignets were which, I dove into the one just after the crawfish. It turned out to be Granny Smith apple, which tasted like a sweet apple pie with its cinnamon and honey butter filling.

Savoring each bite, I thought I could go on when the waitress came by to see if I needed a box. “Oh no,” I said naively. “I think I’ll just have a little more.”

But by the end of the second beignet I had to admit she was right. I needed a box—I could not take another bite.

I later shared the chocolate beignet at lunch, filled with molten Ghiradelli chocolate filling with my brother and his friend Mary. And the next day I finished off the plain for breakfast. Essentially the four beignets lasted me three meals over two days for ten dollars. Amazing.

I’ve already added Brenda’s French Soul Food to the list of recommendations for friends visiting San Francisco, so you know it must have made an impression.

The specials also looked amazing, with Creole pot pie with cheddar biscuits and green salad. I can’t wait to go back and try their lunch or dinner menu, but until then, I have my memories.

 

Sleeping At Last on Food and Creativity

by Antonio F Delgado

I had the opportunity to run into Ryan O’Neal from Sleeping At Last. We got to talk about his love for baked break with cheese, how all of his important decisions are made at a Giardano’s Pizza in Chicago and what it takes to be creative. Enjoy Spooners!