Our Deep Fried Life

Running some errands this evening, and came across this food truck. Well, it’s not really a food truck, because it’s pretty much a permanent, or at least, semi-permanent structure, but it appears to be based on the same “quick, cheap, but better than fast-food” premise.  Among other things, this parking lot establishment specializes in polish sausages, shell pizza, and sweet treats of the carnival variety. I’ll be honest, it was the abundance of fried confections that caught my attention. I mean, come on!  Deep fried Twinkies and Oreos!?  Deep fried peanut butter and jelly!?  Be still my heart.

My first thought was damn, I bet those are scrumptiously delicious…admittedly with a tad bit more excitement than is probably normal for someone over the age of 5.

My second thought was “what the hell is wrong with us?”  The “us” of course being people, the community, our society, and country as a whole. Seriously, what is wrong with us? Is it possible that it’s just because everything is better when it’s deep fried? I’ve seen deep fried cheesecake on a menu. Deep. Fried. Cheesecake. So yeah, I wouldn’t argue the idea that deep-frying has the potential to make most foods even more mouth-watering. But really? Is this what we’ve come to?

I don’t know whether to embrace our descent into decadence or hang my head in shame. I suppose whichever stance doesn’t get peanut butter and jelly in my hair.

Day Drinkers Club

There is a café in my town that recently expanded from a simple coffee shop to more complex food choices. It started with some fancy sandwiches, but quickly grew to have a fairly expansive menu. They offer breakfast, lunch, and even serve ice cream. Overall, the food is pretty decent. They’re not going to get a Michelin star anytime soon, but what they offer passes. The atmosphere is nice and it’s great to have someplace to spend time that isn’t McDonald’s or Starbucks. The prices are a little high for what you get, but outside of that I really have no complaints. I’m glad they’ve gotten enough business that they can branch out and offer more as time has gone on.

What’s puzzling is that in addition to breakfast and lunch they also just got their liquor license and are now serving alcohol. Shouldn’t seem too puzzling, I know. Most places that serve food also serve alcohol because sometimes you just want a glass of wine with that grilled cheese sandwich. But it’s not just wine. They have a sign espousing their wide variety of Irish coffees and they also serve cocktails.

The thing that vexes me is their hours. They close at 3pm every day.  Every. Day. There’s no dinner menu, only breakfast and lunch. Even with such an early closing time they still felt the urge to go through the hassle of getting that liquor license which isn’t exactly easy around here.

My question is, what kind of drinkers do they think we have in this town? Obviously, the day-drinking afternoon brunch variety. The kind that wants to tie one off in the early afternoon and then go back to work or home or wherever they might be headed, because come 3pm they kick you out.

I realize the need to add to your services in whatever way that will increase revenues, but it makes me wonder about the people in my town. How many of them have a buzz on when I’m passing them in the aisles at Walgreens after work? Who wouldn’t be able to pass a breathalyzer test by the time Ellen comes on? The hell with “it’s five o’ clock somewhere.” Come 7:30am all bets are off.

Jimmy Buffett should visit my town. He would be proud.

 

When Irish Eyes are NOT Smiling

As most of you know, I live in a very small, rural town, and it’s not as though people expect to go through our historic streets with the one traffic light and come across an Irish pub, let alone an authentic one. Believe it or not, though, we do have one…well, technically speaking anyway. In reality, what we have is a posh bar, with a fancy sign. You’d think the owners would at least try to make it a legitimate Irish pub, but there, you would be wrong. Oh sure, the menu is covered in clovers and Celtic knots and has elaborate dishes with the words ‘Irish’ and ‘Dublin’ liberally strewn about, but that doesn’t make it a decent Irish pub. Although I have yet to make my heart’s desire journey to Ireland, one thing I do know is pub food. As a matter of fact, there is a quintessential Irish pub about an hour away, so I do have that oasis…but still, it’s quite the hike for fish and chips, no matter how good it may be. And trust me, it’s amazing.

So when this new joint first opened, I had high hopes of ditching the long commute in my quest for bangers and mash, and the aforementioned fish and chips. But alas, those hopes were dashed like a bottle of Guinness caught in a wave against the Cliffs of Moher. My main gripe with this place is its hours and upscale, hipster vibe. It gives every impression of being an upper crust establishment, with upper crust prices for extravagant dishes you’d never see in Ireland, let alone any self-respecting pub. Calling a brie-cheeseburger covered in crab imperial (a Maryland specialty by the way) a Dublin Burger does not a Dublin Burger make.  I won’t even get into the portions that look like they’re meant for an elf, and a smallish elf at that. As for the hours – now I know my town rolls up its streets at dusk, but still…no self-respecting Irish pub closes before 10 PM on any given day. I mean hell, that’s when all the best drinking starts. I can’t be the only one who thinks that, right? Right!?

But their ploy is working, this bar was actually voted ‘Best Irish Pub’ in the area. Although given what else is in the area with regards to food and entertainment, maybe that’s not so hard to believe after all.

To Everything a Purpose

I gotta be honest with you guys – I have always had a hard time leaving behind the underdogs. I can’t turn my back on a runt, or the ones who need to be saved. This habit has no doubt penetrated the bubble of my personal life, I mean, just take a look through my past relationships and you’ll see that. If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe the ‘zoo’ I’m currently building – consisting of strays, rescues and neighborhood animals – will do the trick. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, this quirk of mine has been passed on to my daughter. My somewhat purposefully theatrical daughter.

You see, the other week we were at the grocery store, just doing some regular shopping – nothing new – and as I rooted through the cabbages looking for the perfect specimen, my eye caught sight of what had to be the smallest cabbage in the world. At least the smallest that I have ever seen.

Naturally, I brought this up to my daughter as an “oh, look at the cute little thing,” moment.  Sarah on the other hand, having the uncanny knack of knowing just what to say at any given moment to give me pause, pointed out that she simply couldn’t believe I hadn’t picked out the diminutive veggie resting at the top of the pile.

She actually made me feel sorry that I had left him behind to fend for himself.  Don’t tell me this girl can’t spin a tale. In great detail, she explained to me that everything in the world has a purpose, even this pocket-sized vegetable. Only no-one was likely to buy it since it’s so small and therefore it would be left behind to wither away and rot, never able to fulfill its purpose – that of being eaten…perhaps turned into a lovely veggie dish, or maybe a small serving of sauerkraut.

She was able to convince me that the life of this cabbage was some sort of Disney movie, and if I didn’t buy it and take it home, the little guy would never meet his happy ending. My daughter put it like this, everything has a purpose, and now this extraordinarily petite cabbage will never be able to fulfill his. It’s a beautiful sentiment, but seriously, I already feel guilty enough about all the other shit in life, I don’t need this too.

Needless to say, she successfully guilted me into going back to buy the wee little thing. What does that say about her? Hell, what does it say about me? And just what am I going to do with a baby cabbage?

the world’s tiniest cabbage

Pray for Me

Lord help me, but our rinky-dink grocery store which is out in the middle of nowhere, just like the rest of us in this small town, just put in a Starbucks. Yes. A Starbucks. Which is quite ironic given the lay of the land around here. But hey, it’s coffee and if there’s coffee, I’m there. This oasis just opened two days ago, and I’ve been there 2, 3, 5, okay, fine, 6 times.

Now, you have to understand that previous to this, we had two Starbucks nearby – if a 30-minute drive in one direction and a 45-minute drive in the other direction can be considered “nearby.” So obtaining the desired bounty of a spontaneous craving for caffeine was just a bit time-consuming and often simply not worth it. This was a good thing. Both for my weight and my wallet. But now, now that delicious, overpriced, heaven in a cup is just 5 minutes away. AND it’s literally next door to the high school, soooo…dropping my daughter off at school and picking her up just became that much more fraught with peril.

Even more so because like a local, lower-level drug dealer trolling for victims, this Starbucks’ marketing ploy was to offer free samples…then they upped their game to coupons…you know, to get you hooked – if you weren’t already. And can I just take a moment here to ask “just what the hell does Starbucks put in their coffee anyway??” I mean, what kind of person spends $4.00 on a cup of coffee?? An aficionado addict. That’s who.

The fact that there are few carry-out coffee choices here notwithstanding, I was perfectly happy with McDonald’s coffee, if not the grumpy employees who run our McDonald’s, thank you very much. Now? Arrgghh!  Now there is the very real possibility of my waistline getting fatter while my wallet gets thinner on a daily basis. But my espresso fueled productivity?  Through the freaking roof.