Food and New Yorkers are spoiled

Posted by | Filed under Oregon, Washington | Sep 6, 2010 | Comments Off

It has been some time since I blogged about food. Now that I have been on the road for almost six months I have experienced a variety of food issues, mainly the lack of good produce.
Not eating meat and poultry definitely limits my choices at restaurants / diners, especially when I travel through small towns out in nowhere. My standard choice for lunch is a grilled cheese sandwich (GCS) or tuna salad sandwich, not always so easy to get. You would think that it is very difficult to mess up grilled cheese. I guess you live in a larger town. A standard grilled cheese sandwich comes without tomato and most of the time when I ask for it the waitress ask if that would be on the side or on the sandwich it. Not a good start. The last place where I had a GCS was in the middle of nowhere in Oregon. The place could have been named “Greasy Spoon”. The sandwich consisted of two slices of white bread (one piece was the end slice) and ONE slice of Kraft singles cheese. I don’t even know if that qualifies as real cheese or if those are just chemicals mixed with oil. The French fries was still dripping with grease. No wonder people get bigger and bigger. It has happened that I forget to ask for the tomato and I end up with one hell of a dry sandwich. Of course there are exceptions. In Atlanta, Texas at a store with an old fashioned lunch counter the sandwich was dressed up with some pesto sauce, very nice. You ask why I don’t get a salad. Well, again you must live in a larger town. The salads I have had generally are made with iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato and shredded cheese and some sort of dressing. Nutrition value equal zero. Not that the sandwich is any better in that regard, but at least it is filling and tasty.
It is not all bad, I have had some really good grilled veggie sandwiches, but they are rare. The biggest problem in small towns is the availability of fresh foods. The freezer department generally is way bigger than the produce department. Worst case the only vegetables I found in a supermarket were some potatoes, onions, a little broccoli and maybe one other vegetable. How can anyone cook dinner with that? Then again, there is the freezer department. When I do come across a great produce selection I always want to buy everything, but have to remind myself that I can’t eat everything before it spoils. Not every vegetable freezes well. I get excited when I see Portobello mushrooms. There have been fruit and vegetable stands along the road in California, but by far not enough and there selection is often limited to the current harvest.
Another small town problem is that the local market often only carries the basics; for everything else you have to drive 30! miles (one way) to the next town. Having lived most of my life in New York City, I just can’t imagine living in a place where I have to spend an hour driving back and forth to buy food. At home I have at least six supermarkets or grocery stores within a five block radius. Not to mention the corner delis for quick buys when you are too lazy to walk one block or when you realize at midnight that you ran out of milk. The selection and quality of produce we have in the city is just amazing and we do take it for granted. The crazy thing is that every tiny town, no matter how remote has a post office…
Here in Bellingham at my friend’s place I am starting to get a little spoiled. Carol has a great vegetable garden in the front and back of her house. I just walk out and eat string beans right of the vine, the zucchinis are huge and yummy, the mint is plentiful and smells so good, lettuce, garlic and more. Her neighbor has strawberries that are out of this world. Along many streets grow blackberry bushes free to all who want to pick their own.
It is not just special stuff, if you call Portobello mushrooms special that at times is difficult to come by.
I thought it was difficult to find my dark, dark European style Rubschlager bread, but I had no idea it would be just as hard to find my cereal. I wasn’t able to find any from Arizona to Northern California, not even in San Francisco, at least not at the places I looked. I was happy to find it in Mendocino, California. I thought buying five boxes should be fine. I would surely find more along my way to Bellingham, Washington. Well, I didn’t find any and I was at the verge of running out. I am sorry; I don’t just eat any cereal. A word to Kellogg’s – you need more stores which carry Mueslix! I emptied the shelves of a supermarket in Bellingham twice and have a three month supply now. Let’s hope I find my bread soon before I have to have it shipped from New York.
Yesterday I was in haven when I walked into a cheese store, Quel Fromage, in Fairhaven. I am not a snob, but I can’t just eat supermarket cheese. Cheese does not only come in yellow and orange squares. The last time I bought cheese was in New Mexico when a friend brought back some cheese from Whole Foods. At Quel Fromage I bought five different, melt on your tongue, cheeses that should last for some time. I am so glad that I have a refrigerator.
Next time again some travel stuff with photos, maybe even the last installment of my highway one trip.

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