Category: Erika (A)
This seems like such a cliched title for a blog, being that this website is all about individuality and it's something we are seeking in our homogenous landscape outside this blogosphere but right now I really need to rant about something. Something serious. Seriously serious.
I am getting sick to death, literally and figuratively, of the lack of individuality that is becoming our national (and international) food supply. I just drove to Denver and back to the Twin Cities for a wedding. I didn't prepare for the lack of healthful fresh food choices by packing my own healthful supply and that was a big mistake. All along the drive, the selection of food worth consuming was slim to none. Gas stations are just filled with garbage. Absolute garbage. Gas stations are the nation's most accessible means of delivering food because almost everyone relies on gas for their vehicles. And we wonder why this country is facing such an alarming obesity epidemic. Man, I know I'm preaching to the choir but how did we, Americans, in the land of the FREE, the home of the BRAVE come to accept this?? How have we allowed this corporate takeover?
When I arrived in Denver, it's just such an Anytown, USA nowadays. Out in the northern suburbs where the wedding took place, and where my hotel was located, I awoke the day of the wedding needing green food. I mean, I was just craving it! The continental schmotinental breakfast buffet was abysmal. I had a hard-boiled egg, and a waffle. And syrup which was probably not real maple. I developed some incredibly severe menstrual cramps and my body was screaming, "please feed me magnesium; please feed me omega-3s..." I had been eating so much meat, dairy, and wheat in the days leading up to this due to travel convenience (hey, at least when you buy meat you sort of know what it is vs. all the frankenfood and overly processed crap on the shelves).
I was surrounded by all these stupid chain restaurants that tend to congregate near hotels that we all know are just one-size-fits-all meals that the cooks usually just nuke to perfection. So I went nuts and drove to Downtown Denver. I drove to the 16th St. Mall where a free shuttle takes people back and forth along the mall. I used my own two feet in search of individuality. I searched high and low (but hastily) for that mom-and-pop hippie foodshop I figured would be welcomed by the mile high city. A place where local, seasonal produce reigns supreme but diners can still be casual. In my ten minute persuit (mind you, I had a wedding to dress up for and attend in three hours), I did happen to find a cool-looking "fast healthfood" place called Mad Greens. And it was Sunday. And it was closed.
Down the block, there was a place called Tokyo Joe's. It was this Asian sort of place where you order at the counter and the server brings the food to your table by number. I just wanted something hydrating and fresh and vegan. I needed to take a quick break from all the crap and the heavy starches and excessive meat I'd been eating. Spring rolls were featured on the menu and I asked if they could make them without the chicken.
"Oh, no, sorry, those are premade."
Premade spring rolls? Jesus! How hard is it to make a freakin' spring roll???? More importantly, how good can a premade spring rolls possibly taste and feel without putting something on the rice paper to keep it moist for long periods of time?
I had to keep myself from glaring at the "messenger" at the front counter. After all, these are just high school and college kids trying to make a buck. They are peons. They aren't the ones running the show. Still what happened to customer service? Emphasis on CUSTOM.
I ended up ordering the veggie rolls. Basically they were sushi rolls with avocado, cukes, wasabi cream cheese (gag), and rice. And carrots I think. I can't remember. I also ordered two pieces of tuna sushi. I then had to make an important seating choice. Do I sit in the overly air-conditioned restaurant (that's a rant subject for another blog altogether, just wait) or swelter in the Denver heat and suprising humidity? I chose to swelter. I got to my table and the server brought my food on a tray. Unlike traditional sushi restaurants where the soy is generally sitting in a little pourspout bottle, the soy sauce at this place was in these stupid little packets that, for the life of me, I could not open! (Maybe that was a good thing since it did contain wheat.)
I ended up eating both dishes without the soy sauce due to my inability to open that damn packets and the tuna sushi, pardon me...um, it tasted like...no, I won't say it on this blog. Just imagine all fishy, almost cardboardlike, and no flavor. Flash-frozen goodness, right? Lord have Mercy. That soy sauce would have come in handy to mask the pathetic chain restaurant sterility of it all.
But hey, it was something other than all-American "comfort food" so it was better than staying in the BFE 'burbs.
On the way back home from the wedding, I did reach a point of semi-salvation. While filling up my tank in Kearney, NE, on the 4th of July, I noticed a medium-sized pickup, stacked high with ears of freshly picked sweetcorn. He was heading to some small town and happened to be selling to passersby. I bought a dozen ears for $4.50. We chatted a little. He told me he found the corn in York. He noticed my Minnesota plates. He asked me where I was from in Minnesota. It was so real. I was so beautiful. Real food, from a genuinely personal individual.
Driving back through Iowa, I listened mainly to music on the iPod. However, coming into the larger metro areas, such as Des Moines and Ames, one begins to experience interception on the radio frequencies used to transmit the iPod. I switched to NPR. It was great. Hope. Victory for the whales over the Navy's deadly sonar. Brave comedians from the Capitol Steps helping us to win our nation back through laughter, not hate. Inspiration. Driving through three states in one day. Gazing into the endless fields of grain. Smelling the occasional hog operation. As the billboard miles ahead then states, "Politicians take note; hogs don't vote."
(Even if they could, I doubt they'd want to be treated this way before being slaughtered and served in mICK-Muffins for the masses).
Fireworks were bittersweet in Minneapolis. The mood of people sitting near the river was just so contemplative. Hennepin County DID have a paper trail in 04 and boy did it reflect the mood of last night.
"Oh say, can you see
By the Dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed
at the twilight's last gleaming?
whose broad stripes and bright stars
Through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watched
were so galantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare
The bomb's bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there
Oh say does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?"