|The Official Health Drink of New Jersey!|
I’m always roughly 200% certain that when I go traveling my brain will rationalize that, this being a special occasion and all, it is entirely appropriate to eat with abandon. Unfortunately— or perhaps very fortunately— residing inside of that very same brain is the brain that has read 5,000 books about not eating crap, remembering the importance of local food and blah blah blah fucking blah.
Other voices weigh into this ongoing battle of mine. Having been born in Jersey across the river from Philly, I am genetically and culturally a Carbovore and a Sugarholic. And I am – literally not metaphorically— an addict, which is a very special kind of personality that comes with its own built-in Bullshit Justification System.
To wit—at the end of June I really truly quit smoking. (Aside: just typing those words makes me feel like I’ve jinxed myself and will immediately go buy a pack after I post this. But I swear to you and me both I won’t.) When I quit smoking— which I had been trying to do ever since I resumed smoking five years ago, after a six year break and during my Uber Traumatic Divorce— I told myself to be nice to myself, don’t be hard on myself, reward myself!!
This reward system manifested in a tri-Pavlovian setup, with the setting sun playing the role of the ringing bell. Every night at dusk I hopped into bed with four dogs, a pint of frozen Greek yogurt and at least two (usually three) episodes of Big Love. See, I buy into that theory that you can’t just quit a habit, you need to replace it with another. Well, the replacement theory worked this time but not without drawbacks. Let’s just say that I am definitely one of the legions of smoke-quitters that almost instantly experience IFB (inflatable butt syndrome).
When one suffers IFB, I find that one can go two directions: a) embrace the cushion as one might on a crashing airplane and just float along a sea of resignation or b) freak out and self-flagellate, an exercise which, sadly, doesn’t seem to burn many calories.
This was my mindset at Road Trip dawned. Could I fend off the hoagies and soft pretzels I knew awaited me in South Jersey? Could I convince my Warren, a man nicknamed the Good Eater-- not always for the quality of food on his plate but rather the quantity-- to embark on a journey of salad hunting throughout Canada?
I could not. So essentially I said fuck it, let’s just go for the donuts, be glad for the absence of smokes, and figure out WWMMW (What Would the Michelin Man Wear?) when I got back.
Happy to report that, since I’ve returned and save for the fourteen baskets of bread and Chicago-sized slab of coconut cake we had at Texas French Bread to celebrate our anniversary, I am back on track with dinosaur kale smoothies morning, noon and night. I refuse to regret the absolute glut of gluttony in which I indulged over the course of 22 days and 5,000 miles but, at least until I map out the next monster trip, I swear I swear I swear: Never Again.
Here, then, visual proof of my culinary insanity:
|Southern Fried Breakfast in Knoxville.|
|Egg sandwich, also Knoxville. For part of my pregnancy I lived in Knoxville and during this time I ate an egg sandwich almost every morning.|
|I didn't actually buy these, but just spotting local-focus junk food amuses me. As you can likely guess, we found these at a gas station in Maryland.|
|My mother's refrigerator-- she's got 9 kids and 26 grandkids and everyone likes to hydrate differently.|
|Behold, the Philly Soft Pretzel. These were still warm from the oven. OMG.|
|Secular Holy Communion.|
|Secular Holy Communion Unveiled.|
|Pizza for the kids. We adults ate something more mature. See below.|
|Forget Texas Salsa. These Italian style hot peppers will blow your nuts off. They blew my nuts off.|
|I got eggplant wrapped around ricotta. Because if cheese isn't involved, it's a cardinal sin.|
|Nick got the soft-shelled crabs. Fried. Natch.|
|Warren got the scallops. I had a nightmare about scallops once. WTF are scallops anyway?|
|The above grub was ingested at this joint in Atlantic City, right before I blew around sixty bucks in the slot machines. Stay tuned for those pictures soon.|
|I call those things jimmies. Warren thinks this is hilarious. He calls them sprinkles. I'm right, right?|
|After passing our nine billionth FRIENDLY'S, which Warren had (luckily) never indulged in, I finally agreed to stop so he could test out the "cuisine."|
|Warren was able to identify all but one item on his plate at FRIENDLY'S.|
|Finally we got to Canada where vegetables are legal. I had a Vege Burger! It was tres magnifique. It also unstopped my bowels, which were clogged from all that cheese in Jersey.|
|I can't even remember what Warren had that night, but I think he is coloring in this picture.|
|One sesame ball filled with red bean paste, acquired in Montreal's tiny Chinatown. I love sesame balls because they taste good, and they are fried and also because they remind me of Japan. More on that another day.|
|Warren purchased me a Biscuit d'epouse, aka Wife Cake. It was good and I also acquired a new nickname.|
|St. Viateur Bagels was one of the highly recommended places and it was SO SO SO good. So good.|
|I got bagels with eggs fried right into the holes.|
|Warren got delish Jewish food and lovely garnish.|
|This is bread from a chi-chi place where we ate in Quebec City, which is a super super cool city.|
|Let's just say I musseled my way through Canada.|
|And now, a closeup of my mussels.|
|Even the snack food is more exciting in Canada!|
|More mussels. These were in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, where we went to whale watch.|
|St. Andrews seems to draw a lot of well-off retirees, which in turn inspires the sort of restaurants these folks like. Thus we found ourselves in a rather chi-chi joint for lunch.|
|Warren had the Lobster BLT.|
|I had the crab cakes which could also be a fitting nickname for me during certain points of the journey.|
|Fresh blueberries in Maine.|
|Warren had two lobster rolls.|
|We were in Maine for less than 24 hours, and to fuel ourselves for the drive to PA we stopped at the STANDARD BAKERY in Portland, which is a fantastic bakery but not for the gluten-averse.|
|Among other delicacies, I got one of these pretzely asiago cheese thingies.|
|Driving to PA, Warren pulled into Danbury, CT to find a bathroom and a bite to eat. Who could've predicted that in the heart of Danbury we'd find an authentic Brasilian restaurant?|
|Warren got a plateful of meat to go, plus some fried plantains and sweet potatoes. He shared some of the non-meat with me, but at one point offered up something smeared in meat juice and I nearly blew chunks on the spot.|
|Still more pretzels. Can you even get real good soft pretzels south of the Mason-Dixon line and/or west of the Mississippi?|
|Not surprisingly, then, Imo's pizza was Henry's first solid food.|
|I had crepes.|
|We also ate in in St. Louis, which was great because Sue is an amazing cook. This was breakfast, featuring her homemade brown bread, some strawberry-rhubarb jam I got from the Amish, and her peach soup which is a dish best served cold.|
|Then Sue and I went to the Farmers Market in Tower Grove Park and this guy told me all about his cheese, made local and award winning.|
|Back at home, we had homemade kale chips from local organic kale.|
|And Sue put out the sort of spread that would get her kicked out of New Jersey.|
|This included the amazing local cheese.|
|Thomas and me.|
|I saw him and raised him one, pulling into the Sonic across the street from the truckstop, and ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, which I enhanced with ketchup and tater tots.|
|And then I concluded as I had begun, back at the Czech Stop, for one last kolache before returning to Austin and my all kale all the time diet.|