Friday, March 5, 2010

Cross Country Excursion Part 2

So here I am in Silver Spring sitting for the weekend. I've traded in endless Texas landscapes, hostel living, old friends and roadside BBQ for 6:00AM barking and picking up....well, never mind what I have to pick up. You get the picture. Any desire I've had in the past to one day take care of my own furry companion is dashed. All for the better, though. Pets don't really fit into my visions of forever wandering.

My last post outlined the first few days of driving away from Portland. The fun didn't stop. Everyone has their own methods to traveling and forming memories of that travel. For me it is definitely food. Most details will slip away over time, but I'll remember what I ate for years to come. The day is often planned around meals and indulging in what people enjoy locally is a must. The hardest part is planning what to do in between meals, and I say "hardest" only because there's often too much to see in a strange new place. In Albuquerque I went hiking through desert snow pack and toured what is an incredibly charming southwestern city to fill the time between breakfast burritos, huevos ranchero and sopapillas, all smothered in green chilis. In Texas I didn't do much outside of driving, but punctuated each stint in the car with large piles of smoked meat, eggs, grits, biscuits, gravy, meat smothered beans and toast thicker than the Sunday New York Times, because of course everything is bigger in Texas. In Louisiana I wandered the French Quarter of New Orleans and marveled at the awesome spectacle that is LSU football in between enormous portions of crawfish ettoufe, blackened alligator, a disgustingly large roast beef po' boy, beignets, and an overpriced bloody mary dressed with pickled everything and some great bar side conversation. In Atlanta I met up with an old friend and made some new ones, but at the center of it all was dinner at a southern comfort food institution and certainly a hot krispy kreme donut. I capped off the trip with a long arduous drive from Georgia to Maryland, making sure to stop for a plate of award winning ribs in North Carolina, as I would otherwise not have anything to remember an all together forgettable day by.

Food will always be my strongest connection to times and places. I've been asked over and over again by friends, family and even strangers I encounter if my upcoming world journey will involve cooking. It's a fair question considering what I do for a living. I'm certainly open to the possibility, but the truth is that eating, not cooking is why I'm taking an extended vacation. Food inspires me in the professional realm. Not only a catalyst for new creations, eating something simple and well executed spurs my desire to create the same simple, well executed cuisine. Essentially, I want to create the same type of connection to a time and place for other people that I feel when eating something great. While my aim is to drag out the upcoming travels for as long as possible, a small part of me is very excited to see what will happen when I eventually get back behind the line, primed with the memories of a thousand meals in foreign places and everything I did in between them.

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