Food For Thought

When I go to a new city I love to go exploring.  Everything is shiny and sparkly in a new town.  All of the outdoor activities (kayaking, walking, hiking, badminton, tennis, etc) are new and enjoyable again and I love to buy a city map and plot out walking loops.  Of course, all those healthy things are mostly in my mind and pale by comparison to the enjoyment of new eating opportunities.

This is not my first time staying with Janet at work, but there’s so much to explore here in sunny, dry California I still have a lot to see and do before I go to my actual home.  Where is my actual home?  I don’t have one yet, but I sure hope I find one this weekend.  Good thoughts, everybody, good thoughts.

I enjoy eating, some things I enjoy eating a great deal, but I wouldn’t say I’m a foodie.  I’m way too picky and set in my ways for complete enjoyment at meal times.  It’s not flavors or ethnic foods which bother me.  My issues are with textures and squishy things.  I don’t like mushrooms, for a number of reasons, and I can’t eat soft things like oysters, or cut up tomatoes, and the thought of touching ground turkey again makes me a little nauseous.

I’m trying to broaden my horizons, however, because Janet is a foodie who really enjoys a good meal.  I never felt comfortable going to a Thai, Vietnamese, or Sushi restaurant because I never knew what to order.  Janet has been very patient and loving with me, taking my hand and guiding me through the menus of foreign lands.

When you stay in a hotel and don’t spend a lot of time cooking, eating out becomes a necessary evil in your life.  I’ve always wondered how restaurants, especially fast food varieties, stay in business and seem to thrive like they do.  I’m starting to realize how nice it is to have something familiar in a foreign California town.

Janet and I were hungry, the weekend we arrived here, and couldn’t figure out what to eat.  The hotel parking lot is littered with fast food establishments and some I like (Wendy’s) and some I don’t (Carl’s Jr.) but I wanted something lighter than fast food.  Janet suggested the Olive Garden, located in the parking lot adjacent to ours, just a few steps away, and I said, sure, why not?

It was perfect because I knew I like their Minestrone soup and their salad.  I didn’t have to worry about the quality of food, or how much it would cost, or how the restaurant looked inside.  I already knew all that.  It’s comforting to be hungry, not know what you feel like, and think, ‘well, I can always go to Wendy’s, I know I like their spicy chicken nuggets and baked potato’.

I enjoyed the soup and salad at the Olive Garden, it was light but filling, relatively cheap, and tasted exactly how I remembered from last time I ate there with Jessie in Seattle.  I also knew how much it would cost, so I didn’t have to worry about wasting my money (don’t say it, Budge!).  That doesn’t mean Janet and I don’t like to try new things.  We love exploring the food world and as long as there’s no fungus and minimal lettuce, I’m just fine.

We’ve been to two restaurants this week: one new to Janet and both new to me.  The first one’s a Sushi place called Wasabi, which is located in Folsom, CA.  No, we’re not staying at the prison with Janet visiting me on the weekends.  Trust me: you’ve seen the inside of one prison, you’ve seen them all.  Just Kidding, Mom!  (In case she’s reading.)

I was a little hesitant to try sushi.  For some reason I equate sushi with raw fish and if you’ve ever taken a microbiology class of any kind…well…you just don’t eat raw things. Ever. Janet convinced me to give it a try explaining how everything in the Viagra roll was cooked thoroughly.  Why would she lie?

Yes, you read that correctly: we ordered a Viagra roll.  It was funny (and a little embarrassing) because they rolled up the rice and shrimp with spears of asparagus which hung out the front end.  I hope you can visualize that because I’m not going into any deeper explanations.  So, they cut the roll and sprinkle the top with what I thought was shaved carrots.  I always take off my glasses when reading menus and the world always has a lovely soft, innocent look without them.

I ate two or three pieces when I innocently said, “that’s nice they put carrots on top, you know how much I like carrots.”  Janet’s eyes ricocheted up and locked on mine.  She had that look I’ve seen once or twice before; the ‘I was really hoping you wouldn’t notice or mention that’ look.  Uh-oh.  I briefly thought about changing the subject, some things are better left unknown to me, but I forged ahead.

“Those aren’t carrot shavings?” I asked as I leaned in to get a closer look.  Hey, those look like…Janet cut into my thoughts with a not very convincing, “Those aren’t fish eggs at all.”  I was crushed.  I’d heard Janet talking about the Viagra roll, and how good it was, for months and she never mentioned fishy eggy things, not even once.

“Really?”  I asked.  “Okay, they’re little tiny fish eggs.  You can barely see them, they’re so small.”  Sometimes, in relationships, things just flow well; rhythms are created and no thought needed for the flow.  Sometimes, however, you need to explain how you want your partner to respond, no matter how unnatural and unintelligent it may make them feel.

When I see a dead animal alongside the road, I want you to tell me it’s sleeping, sometimes in an incredibly unnatural position, but sleeping nonetheless.  When I ask you if I look good in these pants, even though I can’t zip them up, I want you to say, you bet, I’ve never wanted you more than I do right now.  When I ask if the caviar on top of a squishy Viagra roll is shaved carrots, I want you to say: yes, honey, yes it is.  And I want you to say it with conviction.  Sometimes you have to explain these things, just the once, and then never mention them again.  Ever.

I can honestly say I’ve tried sushi and I never have to do that again.  Maybe I should have told them I wanted it well done with shaved carrots on top.  I’ll do that next time.  Snicker.  I think Janet felt sorry for me, and probably a little happy I actually tried it, because the next restaurant we went to was called Dad’s Kitchen.

Dad’s Kitchen was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (I think I got that right, Janet and I just call it triple D) and Guy had them make a burger with bacon and blue cheese.  It looked so good on TV, we wanted one right then and when we realized it was located in downtown Sacramento, we jumped in the car and drove out there.

It was pretty good: the meat’s good quality, the bacon was tasty, and the blue cheese was mild.  I’m not a big fan of blue cheese (unless it’s on the world’s best buffalo chicken sandwich at Cafeteria 15L) and wasn’t disappointed I could only taste the blue cheese on the outer edges.  Since Janet and I split our meals, my first bites were on the inside and all I could taste was burger and bacon.  Not a bad taste to enjoy.

Dad’s burger had a nice roll, not too soft and not too hard, and the fries were well done and fresh.  I must say, my favorite thing at Dad’s?  Ordering the Sweaty Betty Blonde Lager, which was crisp and tasty, just the way a lager should taste.  I can’t believe, in one week, I ordered a Viagra roll and a Sweaty Betty!  That was more fun than going to Starbucks, when they first rolled out their lighter coffee, and ordering a tall blonde!  Yes, there’s a 12 year old boy inside of me just dying to get out.  He would like a tall blonde and a Sweaty Betty; no need for the Viagra roll.

I think tonight Janet and I are going out for seafood, another new restaurant we can try.  I hope Janet has learned her lesson from the Viagra roll debacle.  Just nod your head and agree with my delusional way of thinking.  Life will flow much smoother that way.  Oh, look!  A sleeping cat.

jenn

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