It has been since February since I have written anything other than Facebook Posts. Covid19 blew into town shortly after I wrote my last post like a hurricane that would just not stop. What has it been like working through a pandemic you may ask. Not easy is the overall answer.
2020 Has turned into a year that no amount of imagining could have predicted. You will call me crazy I am sure but I am happy. I feel a bit guilty for being happy and maybe some of that happiness comes from luck.
I am so Lucky
You know I work at one of the greatest little pizza shops in the whole world. Yeah, I know I’m biased but I also write the blog soooo. Antonios has been able to weather the storm of Covid19 fairly well. Don’t get me wrong we have our struggles and on some days I think we all would like to throw in the towel or in my case the mask! But we also love what we do and it shows in our food and the support we have received from our customers.
If you would have ever asked me if I would know what it was like to work in a restaurant through a pandemic I would have said hell no. But here we are. So I am going to run it down for you. At first, it was scary and panic-inducing.
Scary because one I have asthma, two the unknown that can kill you is always a little scary. Add in the fact restaurants are closing and the industry I love is, was, and will be decimated.
We are lucky We are still working through a pandemic
That’s when the panic sets in. How will I make a living? I left the professional world of pants suits and meetings behind long ago. I vowed to do only the things I loved because life was too short to do anything but.
It is hard to sleep at night.
Fast forward and here we are into July and so far we are still serving pizzas to the greatest customers in the world. I could go into all the challenges it entails and how it can still cause panic and fear. but it is easier to say we are doing it, it is going to be alright.
It is still hard to sleep at night.
A Message for Restaurant Customers
I am moved to write the remaining part of this post to the public at large from all my friends in this business. So you understand what it is like to be working through a pandemic. This is from California where I have friends who have not worked in months except to feed other essential workers. To Minnesota where my cousin works for a James Beard-winning restaurant that turned into a take out pizza shop.
Be kind to those who are serving you. they are doing their very best. Please follow the rules and directions they give you. Collectivity we are having to make changes on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis, and sometimes they don’t make sense to you or us but they are what we must do. The industry I love has made an absolutely tremendous effort to pivot our business models to keep as many businesses as we can afloat. To keep as many people working as we can.
There is something very intense about this business. it is built on dreams and it is family recipes and it is hot sweaty work. Most of us do it because we love it to the core of our being. We are watching our friends and other dreamers lose what they tried so hard to build. The effects of this will be with those of us who breathe this industry for a very long time.
There will one day be books written about working through a pandemic in 2020. Someone will tell the story of what it was like working through a Pandemic. I am sad one of those books will not be written by Anthony Bourdain because he spoke for our industry. If you are even the least bit curious about what drives those of us that have served you food all through this Pandemic give these two books a read. Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw
Now please be kind to us, listen to what we say. This is our profession and we love it and we are doing our very best!
I find myself asking that a lot, What Would Anthony Bourdain do? Why you ask, well he for one is a very big part of why I continue down this path you can read about that here. He was and continues to be a writer who I admire greatly. His insight on food and how it connects us was unprecedented.
Learning, always Learning
I have said many things over the years about what I wanted Tripping Vittles to be. It is something I am learning to stop because sometimes I do write reviews when I said I never would. I have gotten political and will continue to do so when I said I would stay neutral. That brings me to today and the bit of writing that should have been Leis’s Adventure #4 Food of El Salvador.
What Would Anthony Bourdain Do (WWABD) How would he tell people about the amazing adventure to a Salvadorian Restaurant without telling people about El Salvadore? and how do I talk about El Salvadore without talking about The United States’ unbelievably cruel policy of deportation? The short answer is I can’t. Nor would he.
An enjoyable meal
While I sat at the bar of Ranchero Kitchen, watching the hustle and bustle of a very busy restaurant. The bar seat was the only one available. I watched the faces of people and the eyes of the women who were working there, yes mostly women were doing all the jobs. It could be a coincidence or it could be because El Salvadore is a very dangerous place to be a woman and many seek the Safety of The supposed open arms of America and the welcoming arms of the Statue of Liberty, You know the one she is big and sits in Hudson Bay with a plaque with a poem written by Emma Lazarus a woman of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish descent. or in other words an immigrant.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
WWABD? Would he say those words have always meant something to me, to these nations and to the people all over the world who come here looking for safety and an American dream that is so huge the light of it shines to the darkest corners of the earth? I don’t know if that’s what he would say but I know it’s what I would say.
Leaving your comfort zone
I would like to tell everyone to step out of your comfort zone. Go to a Ranchero Kitchen. You may not understand a word anyone is saying for they are speaking their native tongue. It is a step outside of your comfort zone. WWABD? he would tell you comfort zones are meant to be gotten out of even if the travel is across town.
Anthony Bourdain’s Words
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
I will guarantee you someone will be able to take your order in English. That Same person will proudly tell you about the food they have carried all the way here to America. Their restaurant is set up on a little stretch of street in a part of town that is far from El Salvador. It is also far from the streets of Westerville Ohio, not in milage but in perceived safety, this restaurant is more than likely out of the comfort zone for many of my readers. In order to fix what is going on, we have to acknowledge the most basic fears. Fear of certain parts of town, fear of people with different skin colors. We have to break the cycle of fear and see all people as equal. I think we can do that by eating together!
There is a deep sense of community. Families eating together. Young and old coming in their Sunday best after a morning at church. Young men having a glass of house-made Horchata or Pina Marañon, a delicious combination of pineapple, cashew, and apple. While watching a soccer game broadcast on cable from somewhere in South America.
We have a problem in America today and it is that we have a leader and his administration making people different than us the enemy. They want you to believe that the people that come here from different lands and how they get here are the problem. They are not.
What Would Anthony Bourdain Do?
He would tell you, Someone from El Salvador or anywhere else in Latin America is not the problem. Politics and greedy unethical leaders are the problems. America’s insatiable appetite for drugs is a problem, the prisons where we incarcerate far more people with brown skin color for profit are the problem.
This is not a new problem. We have had an immigration issue here since the day the Statue of Liberty made her appearance in the Bay. I think We are making it worse instead of better. In wanting to write this I have read an article upon article about El Salvador and their politics and gang issues and the United States and our deportations of people back to El Salvador, 138 of them who ended up dead.
Is there a solution? Love More hate less?
I do not have a solution to all of this hate, death, and circumstances both here and abroad. What I do know is when I stepped into Ranchero Kitchen for lunch yesterday I was greeted by smiling women who embraced me and guided me to a delightful meal from beginning to end. What would Anthony Bourdain Do? I think he would start by saying something to the effect…we have got to start by not being afraid of our differences and embracing them. We are far more alike than different or maybe that’s what I am saying!
I was able to go on a trip to El Salvador without needing a passport. I ate the food and I came to a better understanding of their culture through that food. WWABD? I am pretty sure he would tell you to go eat some Salvadorian Food!
Welcome to Leia’s Adventures #3 Chinese Food(Dim Sum) Edition.
I have to say when I go to an ethnic restaurant where the nation of origin speaks a different language I always check to see how many people are there from the nation the food is from and how many are speaking the native tongue. Today’s adventure is no different we are going to China by way of Fortune Chinese Restaurant
When you are one of the few caucasian faces and English is not being spoken you can always be guaranteed you are in for a treat today was no different.
I am a fan of dim sum. I suppose it is a lot like last week’s adventure to Brazil It is a way to try different flavors without committing to a whole meal. This is Leia’s Adventures #3 Chinese Food(dim sum). The following link will take you to a kid’s book on Dim Sum. The whole idea of bringing Leia into Tripping Vittles is that kids and adults alike love dogs and maybe Leia can help introduce kids to a whole world full of food they have never experienced. As everything with Tripping Vittles, this is a work in progress.
The Shrimp Dumpling and the Fermented Eggplant were delicious.
I went with the Radish Rice cake instead of Taro Rice cake I was not disappointed. The Chive Bun was out of this world as was the golden lava bun. Deep-Fried Dumplings looked like chicken wings but were shrimp was a special surprise. Sticky Rice was a killer it had chicken in it and it tickled the taste buds. For dessert the Durian Cake and the Egg Tart were tops.
I have enough leftovers to feed me for a week. I need to find a way to have my followers join me on these little jaunts so I do not have to eat all this food for days.
For the hiking part of the adventure, we headed to Indian Run Falls in Dublin Ohio. It is a pretty little park and walk. I would for sure go after a rain because the falls are really pretty. Today Leia is wearing her Gooby Harness
As always if you buy from amazon using my links I make a little cash.
Today Leia took me to Blendon Woods Metro Park for a hike and Leia’s Adventures #2 Brazilian Food commenced and was a huge success.
Leia’s Adventures #2 Brazilian Food
It was fun about a mile and a half hike around the dog path. It bums me out many of the parks have short dog paths. I guess it is why I like heading off into the woods more but sometimes that is not possible.
Blendon Woods is close to home and it makes for a quick trip to hike. Its a park there is nothing more to tell let’s get on to the real meat and Plantains.
B IS FOR BRAZILLIAN
Estilo Brazil is serving up some awesome Brazilian food inside this little market in Columbus square shopping center.
The woman working the register and showing you how it works, It is a buffet with options. She is the owners’ sister and was super nice and willing to talk with me about all the food. She was so very busy that I did not want to take up to much of her time. but two high lights were the grilled pineapple with beef and lamb and the Corn Pudding.
When we have this wonderful place that is so authentic and delicious don’t go waste your money at one of those Brazilian steak houses. for $15.99 you can try all the amazing food right here. They also have authentic sodas from Brazil and fresh-squeezed juice.
Leia’s Adventures #2 Brazilian Food took me to a really awesome restaurant. As good as any High-End Brazillian Steak House I have ever been to and it had a much more authentic human touch.
As with any time I add a link to amazon if you buy something I may get a little money. It is how I fund these adventures so I thank You. Try the soda it was really good. If you want to know more about the meat they serve and even how to cook it at home this is a great cookbook/resource on Churrasco.
If you do decide to try the at-home version of Churrasco don’t forget this cocktail the Caipirinha I shared the recipe in a post several years ago and I also answered a question this weekend about those big fancy steak houses. Give it a read and be sure to make a drink! #leaisadventures #trippingwithleia
How Buying A Tent to Escape lIfe has led me down a path with even more stories and life adventures.
I grew up going camping a lot! I did not always understand why we did it. Why would my parents want to load up the car and head over to Wisconsin or down to the St Croix for 2 nights? To the Rocky Mountains for 2-3 weeks seemed excesive especially as I became a teenager. It seemed like a lot of work and I was a brat and did not always want to go.
As I near My 52nd year I am starting to understand better and better my parents total need to escape life and sit by a fire, eat food made over a camp fire and just be away from everything and nearly everyone.
I had no idea when I started Tripping Vittles what direction it would take. I did not know I would be telling you about campsites the same way I would be telling you how to make simple syrup
When my dad passed away and my mom moved I inherited some camping equipment. Most of it is too old, not usable or needs updating. I have lugged that gear with me for the better part of 20 years and I have no idea why?
A need to keep touch with my Dad? A way to remember my youth? Probably a little of both but it has also served as a compass to direct me here. To this day and time to Tripping Vittles and the realization that Tripping Vittles is really another way to say living life. It is a work in progress. Like learning how to make the perfect poached egg or The best tasting Hot Chocolate.
This past weekend I added to my camping equipment collection and got a Coleman Tent 4 person Tent. More so I can Bring a friend or two along on my adventures. Sleeping in the back of my Ford Escape would take a level of intimacy not all are comfortable with! Spooning is not for the faint of heart!
It will also make a great changing and Bike/Equipment storage room when I am out on my own. I did not know I needed that until I was on Lake Erie and the wind picked up and it rained a bit.
Camping and Adventure are just one more thing I can add to this Tripping Vittles Life. I hope I can see you out on the trail, in a campsite in addition to a restaurant or in a kitchen.
I think it is clear now that I love Ice Cream! The good the bad( is there really bad ice cream?) all ice cream.
I have said over and over I am not a review site. but I keep getting asked my favorite this or that and where do we find good this and that? So I have decided I will write short little reviews of the stuff I love or not love. You will not find the brutal takedowns of places like the NYtimes does of restaurants.
At One Time I Did Write Reviews
Many years ago I used to write funny reviews for friends. It is how I started writing and it eventually morphed into Tripping Vittles.
The following was my rating scale.
1-oh yeah it is good
2-oh yeah baby that is really good
3-oh man that was frikin great
4-holy crap ya can’t beat that
I probably will not tell you about a place that sucks. or maybe I will but that is a line I will cross when I get to it. I know how hard people in this business work and I know sometimes even the very best places have shitty nights.
Grandpa Knew Best
I love Ice Cream. If you follow me on Instagram and you should, you will know I have traveled searching for ice cream. I will go far and wide. It is the perfect sweet treat dessert and all–around meal if you get the right combo.
“There is always room for ice cream it fits between the cracks”
Today I am sharing with you the Ice Cream you must get if you are in Port Clinton Ohio.
There is a little place called Andy’s Party Mart, In Port Clinton Ohio. If you are up on Lake Erie make this place a stop. It is a drive thru/deli/icecream shop. I cannot address the drive tru or deli but the ice cream is awesome!
Flavors and Rating
The flavor I got was Brown Butter Bourbon.
It’s a 3-Oh Man that was Frikin Great! Tripping Vittles has been told by a reliable source that the Strawberry Cheesecake and Caveman Chocolate are darn good too!
I Love Ice Cream
I love it, will always love it! Do I have a favorite flavor? Nope, not really. I love almost all brands. I even like to make my own Ice Cream. If you enjoy making your own ice cream the Ben & Jerrys book on Ice cream is the best I have ever used. Easy to make and fun!
A few Sundays ago it was national french fry day. I decided that whenever there was the time in my life and a fun National food day, I would go ahead and search out the best of that food. So I went on a search for what I thought was going to be The best French Fries in Ohio
I am here to tell you there is something wrong with french fries in America or at least Ohio. This journey is me searching for The Best French Fries in Ohio and what is wrong with that.
The First Best French Fry
Since tasting the first best French Fries that I can remember at a McDonalds in St. Paul Minnesota, At the time we had to make an exclusive drive to get, I was a lover of the little sticks of potato dropped in fat and made deliciously edible.
In college, I wrote a paper about Mcdonalds going to Russia with their first fast food outlet. It was the end of the cold war, and The Berlin Wall had fallen, and American French fries via McDonald’s were taking the world by storm. I think it is safe to say McDonald’s has the best French fries. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar. They have changed over the years, the oil they fry them in and how long they hold them under the warming lamps have all changed. I am also sure there are some corporate secrets on how they have changed that I am not privy to, but if McDonald’s does anything correctly, it is french fries.
I won’t argue these are opinions
We can argue all you want about the corporation and the healthiness of food, but that is not what I am here for I am here to talk about the best french fries in Ohio. I set my criteria for what I was looking for in a french fry. Feel free to place your own criteria and drive nearly 400 miles searching for good french fries!
The Criteria for my Trip
The following were the criteria I followed. The French Fries had to be on at least two Best of lists. The establishment had to be in Ohio I had to want to go there. Simple or so it seemed.
I am not a review site, so I wrestled with myself in naming names of restaurants in this post. Because some of what I have to say is not very nice. If you care to go to my Instagram and follow me, you will be able to figure who is who quickly. So if a name comes up, and it will I am not beating my self up about it.
Why I think I know Good Fries
My credentials, I have been eating french fries for nearly 50 years. I love French fries and have worked in food service for 35 years. I worked at a place that before some cheap profiteers took it over made the best french fries in the world. For my years a distributor of frozen french fries. I have eaten and taste-tested more french fries than I care to admit.
At the aforementioned best french fry restaurant Ed Debevics, I sat in a meeting watching a bunch of dudes that had no idea what an excellent french fry was, discuss changing the best fries in the world to some concoction that cost a few pennies to buy. The fries we tasted were made out of air, rice, and chemicals. The cheese sauce caused it to disintegrate, and they were cool with that. I feel I know my fries!
To Review or Not Review that was a Question.
I thought about writing a review of each fry, but that’s, not me. I mean it could be I have written reviews before, but instead, this is an open letter to all people who make french fries. Particularly Those encountered on my search for The Best French Fries in Ohio.
Dear French Fry Makers of America,
Except for you McDonalds, You get a pass because your fries still rock. On a side note, how about you start paying all your employees a living wage. Thanks, Now the rest of you.
I get it, it takes a lot to hand-cut your fries even with a fry cutter. Then you must soak em in a big bowl for oh like 2-4 hours. Next, you have to bring your oil, Peanut oil or duck fat or beef tallow(its what Mcdonalds used to use) now it’s vegetable oil. Once you fry them in about 300-degree oil until soft. You have to cook them again in 400-degree oil, and all those oils that are good for fries but not good for other food products can cost you the money you may want to put in your pocket. The fry business can get complicated with all these factors.
I understand some of you don’t want to do all of that. The truth is if you don’t do that you will never be the absolute best french fry maker. Even if you do do that you still may not be the best because honestly, people screw up a good french fry all the time. Here is my advice if you make a great french fry let it stand on its own. Keep the parmesan cheese and the truffle oil and the garlic and the Rosemary off the fries.
Do not serve it with aioli or homemade ketchup with spices that don’t belong in something called ketchup. There is but one ketchup! Heinz Ketchup, and it should be served in a bottle somewhere on the table so you can apply as you wish.
Let me back up to the Rosemary for a second… Chefs have you tasted a branch of that stuff!! A little Rosemary goes a very long way. When you are paying money for duck fat to cook your fries in why in the hell would you ruin that excellent flavor with a handful of twigs that taste like something found on the ground underneath a pine tree?
French Fries are best served with salt. Do not ever forget … a perfectly fine french fry is elevated with just a bit of salt. STOP THERE!!
Now let us talk about boxed or frozen fries. Somehow many of these types of fries got on the list.
Notes. If you have frozen fries from Sysco or GFS on your menu at the very least set your friers to the temperature that the box says you should cook them at and then train your employees to cook at that temp for the time in the instructions. Please note cheap box fries usually do not mean good box fries.
Also of note, you can toss a handful of parmesan or some garlic and parsley on it, but if the french fry is not higher quality, it is just a lousy fry with some junk on top.
Now here is a shout out to the winners of my Fry adventure. Kewpee in Lima, Ohio. By taste alone, Kewpee is the winner. They were awesome, though. Honorable mention goes to Senate in Cincinnati they would not have won on just their fries, made with duck fat, see Rosemary and Truffle oil issues. But they took their fries to another level when they turned them into Poutine. Poutine The delicious French fry, cheese curd and gravy combo that hails from our Northerly neighbors In Quebec Canada. Senate instead of gravy added a braised short rib meat and cheese sauce along with curds combo that was breathtakingly delicious.
In closing French Fry Makers of America, my guess is you are paying people to put you on lists or peoples criteria for a good fry is far less than I had anticipated. Either way, get your act together, start looking at your french fries and tasting them and for the love of God stop with the Rosemary!!
This is a how to post! How to Make Blackberry Simple Syrup. A very easy recipe to enhance all your summer drinks. Add it to Iced Teas for a different berry flavor.
How do you use Blackberry Simple Syrup
Blackberry Simple Syrup Pairs well with Vodka, Bourbon, Gin, and Tequila. My favorite flavor combo with the blackberry syrup is lemonade, ginger beer, pineapple juice, sprite, orange juice any of these flavors pair well with the syrup.
Try making a margarita and instead of adding Orange juice add the berry syrup to the tequila and lime juice. 1 part tequila, 2 parts lime juice , 1 part blackberry syrup. Shake in a cocktail shaker and serve in a chilled martini glass I highlighted these two items because if you do not have a bartending set at home you should get yourself one.
At home cocktail making is fun and it will save you a ton of money in the long run. We used to call it pre-gaming I’m sure the youngsters have a cooler term for it then we did. But for me a good pre-game is the best part of entertaining.
More than one kind of Simple Syrup
Follow this link for a eas to make Plain Simple Syrup. Simple Syrups are a way for bartenders to sweeten cocktails. Syrups are an easy concentrated way to add a bit of sweetness without the granules of a spoonful of sugar.
I did something totally out of character this week. I left a job with no notice. It was not a bad job, it just was not the job for me. In doing so it brought back memories of the only other time I have ever done something like that. It also brought back memories of one of the most amazing women I have ever known and all the Lessons she taught me. The First Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens
If I knew then….
I want to tell the story of Ms. Gibson. I know it would be a fascinating story because she was strong, independent, hard-working and was filled with life. If I knew then what I know now I would have sat her down and had her tell me her life story. I did not do that so the story is of her and I and our time and interaction together.
I graduated from college in 1991, and one day shortly after walking the graduation walk, I was flown to Chicago for a job interview at the University of Chicago. The South Side institution where Nobel Laureates resided and the speed of light was first recorded. Surgical Anesthetic was invented and the modern Nuclear age was ushered. I was thrilled for the opprotunity and I got the job.
Heading to chicago..
I left my world of Minnesota and small town Wisconsin and moved to the third largest city in the country. I was a fish out of water. both in the kitchen and in daily life. About those kitchens, I cannot do the kitchens justice they were huge and beautiful at one time women cooked from scratch in them and I am sure the food was magnificent. There are three things that stand out on my arrival to the kitchens of the university. The first is the huge wood chopping block style prep tables. They were 10 feet long and 4 feet wide and they were stunning. Grooves where people for nearly 100 years worked on food preparation. They were meticulously clean .
One of these tables sat in front of a bank of 4 ranges with six burners each. My guide that day was the man who hired me, a pale-skinned gentleman who wore a suit and bow tie had little round glasses and talked quietly with what appeared to be an accent of his desendents. Who obviously came over on the Mayflower.
We entered the range room and met two people who made my guide and I look like Bilbo Baggins and Frodo. The man dressed in overalls and holding a torch with greasy hands standing at about 6’4′ and next to him the second thing that stood out on my first day of adulthood was a woman, a tower of granite with her grey afro standing on end telling him he had no idea what he was doing that woman was Ms Gibson It was the first time of many times I would see what I call the Gibson pose. Hands on hips one foot in front of other. Looking like she could swing a punch or run the 50 yard dash either one of her choosing.
Mr.Baggins never went fully into that room. He dropped Frodo like a hot potato at the end of that long butcher block table and beat it out of there.
On this day Ms. Gibson was about to do the 50-yard dash. It all happened very fast. She turned on her heel to make haste out of the room. As she rounded the end of the table she said: “child you may want to come with me.” I turned to scurry along behind her and that is when it happened.
Lurch stuck his flint to light his torch for the pilot light as the kitchens had been shuttered for the summer. Whooosh the air left the room my chest was sucked in. There was an explosion that shot across the room and into the air. The flame shot between Ms. Gibson and I. My eyes were wide as I turned to if see if Lurch was even still alive. He was, though his hands were a dark red and for the next month or so one half go his upper body did not have hair.
She never missed a beat called over her shoulder as we went down the Hall “I told you so” . All this before I had even dropped my brief caseoff in my little office. A little office that had no air and no windows.
Shortly that office was to become even more claustrophobic. It was also where I learned my first real lesson in life a Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens. I did not know that is what it would become but that is what it was. Up until this moment, I had learned school stuff and kids stuff and my mom and dad shaped me into someone with a big heart and a love of life. but there were things I did not know and Ms. Gibson was about to become my teacher.
My first real assignment after I dropped that brief case, funny how you don’t see those any longer. was to meet the staff and see what they did and who they were. I met Ms Qwen a woman who was labeled a trouble maker but who I came to love. Her partnersname escapes me but only because she was not around very long. She moved to somewhere down south where her family resided shortly after I arrived.
I was left with “the Twins”. They were really not twins but everyone in the kitchen called them that because they were two very short round Mexican women both named Maria. I was standing trying to communicate with them in my broken Spanish and their Broken English when I pointed across the room and said “the colored lady over there said I should have you show me” that was when I felt a big hand and a big presence on my shoulder and behind me. Ms. Gibson said in her big voice. To your office now!
Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens
I could tell I was in trouble but I had no idea why? Ms. Gibson came into my little room and shut the door behind her. It was the second time in a day all the air left a room I was in. She said “sit down” so I did. Then she just stared at me. She looked for several minuets and I just sat waiting for her to speak. Her stature commanded respect and I was not about to not follow that command. She then said, “child where are you from?” I was scared so I just said Minnesota.
Listening to Each Other…
Her stance relaxed and she started a dialog that changed my life. She asked about my childhood and how many black kids I knew. not many and the one closest to me had been adopted. she was like a sister she had no pigment to her skin she was just one of us. By us I mean there were four girls in her family and two in ours. We were us, six little girls, spending time together because our parents loved and cared about each other. I suppose when people saw all of us kids skiing or trapsing thru the woods they saw one little girl that was darker than the rest but it never once entered our minds we were different because we wernt
I told her about the family that moved in not too long before I moved away for college next to my parents. Some in the neighborhood talked about them because of the color of their skin. But their skin color was never an issue my dad took the time to teach the dad about mowing his yard and caring for their house because he had asked. He had a shadow in their young son who followed my father around the yard asking him questions, I had prepared my father well for this as I was that same kid years before. They remained my parent’s neighbors until my Dad passed away several years after my Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens with Ms. Gibson.
It was at this stage Ms. Gibson gave a commanding “stop” She said a lot in the next hour and I listened but her point was words matter as much as actions and your words will make people think you have other intentions. In the closed up room with no air, she spent over an hour explaining to me that she understood that in what she called the whitest state in America(and back then she was not wrong) the word colored was not probably as racist as someone who heard it in Chicago. As I listen to her air came back in the room and I could see that there was a whole world and culture to chicago that I wanted to learn and know. I was given a crash course in racial relations in Chicago 1991.
I wanted to make sure I did not offend anyone I worked with or anyone I would get to know. If I think about it it was probably the beginning of Tripping Vittles. I got my love of food and adventure from my parents but the idea of learning to be a better person about someone’s culture and community and crossing bridges came from that hour and my remaining 8 months or so at that job. The whole time learning all I could from Ms. Gibson.
When we walked out of that office it was lunch time. One of the great joys of working in the hospitality industry is family meal. Ms Qwen called out as we emerged from the office “white girl you come over here lets see what you got.” I looked up at Ms Gibson and she said “go on child make them see you are more than a white girl”
I walked over to that long wooden workbench the staff was standing around. “the twins” had a taco concoction in a pan. I could see everyone watching me as I stepped to the plates and started to make a taco. I only took one tortilla and they were corn not like the flour I was used to. The “Twins” stepped forward chattering quickly they took my plate laid another tortilla directly on top of the one i had taken and scooped a portion of meat onto the tortilla, sprinkled with onions and cilatro tossed a lime on my plate had a breif conversation and ladeled some green salsas into a monkey dish.
I took my plate and moved down the line. Rib tips in BBQ sauce. at the time I had no idea what a rib tip was but I took a big scoop. I will eat anything with sauce on it!
There was a big plate of something fried. Everyone stopped watching me approached that stainless steel pan full of fried food. I did not ask I just scooped it up and put it on my plate.
Next was macaroni and cheese. Just like my mom made. From scratch!!
After that greens! We had a garden. I had eaten greens in my past swiss chard was a favorite covered in butter and vinegar after wilted. But these greens were different they were super dark in color and chopped up and in a little bit of dark juice. Here was the beginning of my first Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens I did not ask I just scooped. Sweet potatoes but not like the kind we had in Minnesota there were no marshmallows they were cubed and baked nothing on them but set to the side was some butter and molasses. For dessert fruit mango and watermelon with lime and salt.
I took a seat and picked up my fork. Ms. Qwen told me, girl, you need to get you some hot sauce for the chitlins before you start this meal. A bottle of Louisiana hot sauce was set out. I never even thought to ask what chitlins were.
My fork hit the mac and cheese first. It was just as good as my moms which is saying something because hers rocks! Next I put down my fork and I dug into the taco. I hesitated at the green salsa but took a leap and used some, it was spicy and tangy and went perfect with the beef that was in the taco. The beef was tender and a flavor I was not familiar with fatty but delicious. I would come to find out that was Lengua or Beef tongue. They are still my favorite taco. If you are in Columbus and try Los Gouchos their Tongue Taco You can thank me later.
I had to ask how to eat the rib tips. I was told you just pop them in your mouth suck off the juice and sauce and chew the meat off. if you do it right you will have a little white piece of the joint left. Awesome!
The greens and chitlins were next. Everyone stopped to stare. The white girl was about to eat chitlins.
Yes, she was and boy they were good. the batter was light and the hot sauce added a vinegar taste but the chitin was soft and buttery. I have heard many times these chew like rubber or they taste gross because let’s face it if you don’t clean the intestines well and over fry them it will be like eating souls of your shoe that stepped in poop. But when done right like that august day in Chicago they are divine and followed with Greens that I wish you could taste but I will say the angels sang when I ate my first bite. They were smoky and sweet with a touch of sour. The greens melted in your mouth rather than having to chew them. They were like nothing I have ever tasted. I was in love!!!
I wish I could tell you we ate like this everyday but we did not,. there were a few times that the spread was this elaborate it was when we had to work and there were not students around to feed. More often than not Ms Qwen or the “Twins” would bring me something they made from home to taste.
Respect is Something You Earn…
No one ever called a white girl after that. Ms. Qwen had made her point and I learned from Ms. Gibson. I learned many more things from Ms. Gibson some were lessons that my parents had taught me but she reinforced. Others were things you only learn having a mentor and living in a big city. I took those lessons with me and after 28 years, I can make a mean pot of greens. Every time I make them they taste just a little bit better. There is no real recipe but I will share with you what she taught me. Then you can spend the next 28 years trying to make them taste like butter and sweet and sour.
More… Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens
I told you above that this past week I left a job with no notice. Only one other time had I done that. A new boss came to run the foodservice, he worked for a management organization. He was a corporatists shill who was there to break the union and remove the people who they deemed were costing too much. They were there to get rid of Ms Gibson. That was disturbing. I had seen both the positives and negatives of the union. At 23 years old I out of my element. I did not know what was right or wrong about that.
We were all called to a meeting where I was the only female in a room full of men. I was lowest on the pole and had no voice so I listened. As I listened to the management call the staff a bunch of Dirty “N-word’s” and how they were going to plot getting rid of people. I left there feeling dirty and scared once again.
I went to my little office and called Ms. Gibosn in and told her to close the door. Once again, the air was no longer in the room; it became claustrophobic. I began to cry. I wept. She probably thought someone had died. Finally, I was able to explain what I had heard, and she reached over with her big hand rested it on my shoulder and said: “We know they are coming for us child we are ready.”
But I was not ready. By association, I was part of them. I said to her I can’t be a part of this. I love you and the crew here. She said what I already knew to be accurate, and that was it was time for me to leave. I had applied for a few jobs and was quite sure I had got one. So I went down hugged the women and men who changed my life. Those that taught me lessons in race relations over a pot of greens. Lessons I still carry to this day. I dropped the key and the beeper on the desk and walked out the door.
I wish I could tell you I remained friends with Ms Gibson and Ms Qwen but I did not. Ms Qwen came up to visit me once. she filled me in on all the gossip and told me they had weathered the storm. That everything was fine.
I never saw Ms. Gibson again my path was far different than hers. Where she lived was not somewhere I could just drop by. Time passed, and shortly before I moved to Ohio I drove down to the university. I don’t know what I was expecting to find. The University Had remodeled all of the kitchens. The Big Beautiful table where we all ate our family meals had been removed. There was no who had heard of Ms. Gibson.
The most Important Lesson…
Here is what I know to be true. We all can say or do things that are offensive but if we care we can also learn from those experiences. Now some 28 years later I can see how privileged I am to live this life. I have and can learn more every day, can I be better? always. But the Lesson: Race Relations thru a Pot of Greens that I learned from Ms.Gibson and all those people at the University will be with me forever. She made me a better person not perfect just better.
Like I said this is not really a recipe as much as it is a map. There are many ways to get to the end. Just follow the process and enjoy the ride. Serve this with any grilled meat and a side of potato salad or Macaroni and Cheese. it can also make a meal in itself with a big chunk cornbread
Ham Hock one nice meaty one. or two smaller. You can make it without the Hock but don’t.
bacon(use jowl because it is so much better) don’t argue I am right.
at least 6 cups of chopped greens. I always use collard there is no alternative here. then add in what You like The photos of what I made last week have turnips and kohlrabi in there too.
chop up a big onion add that.
salt and pepper(I used my Bourbon Barrel smoked flake salt)
Chicken stock you can use beef or pork or vegetable I like chicken stock
1/4 –1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar more greens more vinegar.
clean the greens. Seriously clean them and then clean some more. greens are gross if they have earth grit in them. No one wants to eat dirt or sand. Soak them then chop them and squeeze and squish them rinse them again let them sit in some water.rinse. You get it now right clean the greens.
salt and pepper the hock and in a big cast iron pot brown it. when it is almost brown toss ina bunch of chopped up bacon
cook the bacon until you have a nice rendering of fat.
toss in the greens and the onion saute and stir untill they start to wilt and all the greesn are coated in fat.
dump in the viigar bring it to a bubble while stiring the greens and getting it all over evertyhing in the pot.
now take enough chicken stock to cover everything and then some.
bring to a boil and then take it to a simmer.
you will not cover for an hour
stir and then leave a little crack for steam to escape. and let it cook. for a minimum of 4 hours but go for 5 or 6. if you want stir every once in a while. this is low and slow cooking. you will cook it tlll nearly all the liquid is gone.
you should be able to at this point lift the bone to the hock out of the pot and the meat should just fall away. break up that meat and disperse throughout the greens.
The greens are now ready to serve.
You can make this vegetarian by using vegetable oil or coconut oil instead of Bacon fat to wilt the greens. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
Here you will find what I use to make the greens. It goes without saying if you buy one of these Items there is a chance I will make a little cash for what I do. Dutch OvenChef’s Knife
I am sitting in the most Anthony Bourdain place I could think of in Columbus Ohio, Celebrating #Bourdainday… Are there other places he would go if here with me? Sure, probably. Will they be as good maybe, will they be in the space of a former strip club serving spicy Asian fish stew…nope absolutely not.
He Once Vistited Columbus
He visited Columbus once for No Reservations. The place he went for Asian food is closed now. And Pizza, ahhh done that.
Today is about Celebrating #bourdainday. I had to work today, and then I went to a very proper business meeting with a food distributor, and now I sit at Helens Asian Kitchen. I have ordered food, and that is almost not the point.
Why am I Celebrating #bourdainday
What is the point?? I am sitting here, reflecting on people who make a difference in my life. People I love and who love me or I think like me. Sometimes it is tough to tell. I wonder did Bourdain know how loved he was. How admired and how idolized he was.
Did he understand fully how he spoke for people who do not feel like they fit anywhere? Did he realize a year later we would be celebrating #bourdainday the world over? He not only spoke of kitchens and working in the most significant most satisfying jobs in the world. But He spoke to our souls. When other people do not understand or don’t see the world like those of us that have this wanderlust coursing thru our blood, he somehow made us outcasts feel a part of the world.
My Heart Breaks but I Understand
I feel for Bourdain. His pain was deep, deep enough to take his own life. Maybe I understand it because my dad’s mom took her own life. We never talked about it, but it was always there.
Maybe I understand it because to be in this business you expose your heart more, and you share more of yourself then you care to admit. Bourdain understood this more than many for he not only shared on a plate or in a dining room he shared on TV and in the tabloids and on Twitter. He was everywhere. His heart and soul exposed for the world to see. Suicide and his darkness were all that were left that were his.
We Set Ourselves Up for Pain
You see many of us in this business do this thing where we share our selves our creations our hopes and dreams with virtual strangers. We tell the world what we are doing and what we plan to do, and then We fail! We fail a lot!. Sometimes our food sucks or our business closes, or we work for overblown egos. We drop a drink on a customer, we burn the last steak in the house, we sleep with the hostess and instantly realize that was a failure that will haunt us.
I once bought into a dream of a restaurant called REID named after my godson I worked hard at rehabbing the living space above the restaurant. I had two people who I shared my dream with who I thought had the same vision as me. The restaurant never opened. I moved out of my apartment. It was the first time I felt like death would have been better than embarrassment.
I moved to another state, leaving a job in this business that stole my soul. It was the second time I choose to live. For had I stayed there, I surely would have killed myself. Maybe not with a gun in my mouth but with food, booze, and stress.
Maybe for all those reasons and a million more service industry people are celebrating #bourdainday the world over. Making meals, adorning our bodies and our restaurant walls with his likeness. We are still here we are not mad at him for leaving, we may even be a little envious
It’s not only On the job
We live this intensity at work and then we bring this level of intensity home to our relationships, family, and friends. To wait on people all day and to create and serve food and drink it is our craft. This craft we love feeds you and makes us passionate it makes us love deeply, and it makes us romantics. There is something very romantic about bringing people joy using some or all of their senses; it is intimate and loving.
Bourdain said..” Cooking is a craft, I like to think, and a good cook is a craftsman — not an artist. There’s nothing wrong with that: The great cathedrals of Europe were built by craftsmen — though not designed by them. Practicing your craft expertly is noble, honorable, and satisfying.”
Not the kind of romantic that plans out an evening with perfect courses flowers, wine, dinner and it ending in coitus. No, we are the kind of romantics that throw a bottle of tequila in a backpack grab the keys to our cars or hop on the train and go to the best place for tacos while racing time to get to the highest point so we can to watch the sun go down. If we are lucky, we can find a soul to go on the ride with us, even if they don’t understand why we are the way we are. Friend or lover, we guarantee the best time. Sure sometimes it ends with some deep intense physical touch, but that is just because everyone gets lucky sometimes even restaurant nerds. More times than not, it ends in a breathless exhilaration that until you have it and understand you don’t know it. It can often beat penetration of any kind.
Bourdain was this Romantic you can see it in nearly every show he ever made. But don’t take my word for it I will let him tell you…
“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find a perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”
How deep is our Love
When we fall, we fall hard, our love is deep. I would love to tell you it is just about fucking, and yeah we all know that’s enjoyable, but it is the least of it. We want more we want the heart, the mind the soul and we overwhelm ourselves and those we fall in love with. We do not mean to make it overwhelming but overwhelming it is none the less.
Bourdain knew this for he loved his women, food, drink, and his friends with an intense passion. How do I know this you say you do not know him. I know it because after he took his own life, there was no anger there was an outpouring of love. A year later and his best friends created a day to celebrate him not to mourn him. They feast on the day of his birth, not the day he died. His alma mater created a scholarship. You only celebrate a life that gave love genuinely, by showing and giving love deeply
Bourdain’s words “As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly; you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life–and travel–leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks–on your body or on your heart–are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
You still may not believe I know this love, but I saw it when my dad died there was no funeral or sadness there was a man in a kilt playing the bagpipes there was champagne and shrimp cocktail. There were dessert bars by the hundreds all made by people who loved a man who loved them. Maybe that’s why I understand Bourdain because that day while I put raspberries on top of Brie and poured champagne into glasses I also wanted to die. I tried to lay down and stop breathing.
We All Have Known this Pain
We all have those moments where we think we could end it. Where failure hurts, where jobs are lost, where we realize we spent to much time on someone that had no way of loving us the way we loved them, of just wanting peace or trying to cope when best friend dies. I understand the feeling of wanting to close your eyes and never open them again. I also appreciate that Bourdain in living his life gave us enough reason to not do what he did. He loved enough that he left us with an aim of celebrating #bourdainday and his life instead of mourning his death.
Bourdain “The journey is part of the experience — an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.”
Before You Take the Final Train Let someone Love You
Enjoy the journey, and if you ever feel so overwhelmed, you don’t know how to get out of it, call the suicide hotline number 1-800-273-8255. There is something remarkable about a stranger showing you love a kind of love that comes from a place that we who work in the service industry know all too well. Its the same passion as cooking someone a meal, making them a drink and giving them a little bit of yourself…
Today I made some Delicious Kohlrabi Fritters. We will get to that in a few paragraphs. Right now let’s talk about passion.
I have not been here in awhile because I have been busy. Changing jobs,growing Tripping Vittles one little step at a time. I have been searching for years, and it has always been here. What am I searching for I have asked myself?
Where have I been
Love, Peace, Happiness, Excitement, Adventure. All of those things come to mind. Recently I have tried a bunch of different things
Politics. I love politics, but it is not my passion. I am a great follower in this area but not a leader. Leaving the leading to others. Call me for a protest or a march or to man a booth but don’t ask me to organize or run for office. I am well read and can hold my own in discussions, but it is just not my Passion!
CrossFit. Yeah, I want to be healthy, and I have friends who are amazing at this. My body at this age and with all my knee issues is not cut out to be a CrossFit pro.
Those are just two of many things I have done over the last year searching for me. The funny thing is me has been here all along. I have even talked about it. I started working on me years ago with this blog. It began as a hobby but this is my passion.
This is my passion
It is not just Tripping Vittles though it is food in general. It’s talking to people and showing them how to cook and how to use the spices I have to make delicious food. Its sharing tastes from all over the world. It is talking about cooking and growing and feeling what we use to nourish our bodies.
It is about Love, the love we have for one another the love we have for our planet. The love that can only be expressed thru breaking bread with your fellow man.
My passion is about all things food and food related Sharing recipes, eating amazing meals, saving the planet so we can keep eating and growing the magic that is what we eat.
The Recipe Delicious Kohlrabi Fritters
This week I bought some Kohlrabi at the farmers market where I sell Tripping Vittles spices. People who sold it to me are a family of super nice folks GlasgowFamilyFarm In a future post I will talk about how important shopping local and supporting local farmers is. Today lets just talk about Delicious Kohlrabi Fritters.
In a Small Food Processor, grind up stale bread for bread crumbs. Remove to a mixing bowl add to the processor the kohlrabi and the red onion grind or grate up depending on the texture you like. Remove and add to bread crumbs. Add all other ingredients except butter and olive oil mix well. Set to side
Heat butter and olive oil in a Cast Iron Pan once hot add your fritters cooking each side to a golden brown.
For the Sauce mix, all ingredients together at least a half hour before the meal let them sit in the fridge until you are ready to serve the fritters.
Serve on a plate topped with sauce and a little garlic scapes or green onion for color. This recipe makes 2-4 Fritters depending on the size you want your fritter to be. I made two as a meal but they would make an awesome side dish to a steak in place of potato.
Right now you can only get the spices in Westerville at the Saturday Farmers Market but trust me when I say more is coming. I am, but one person and I try as hard as I can to do a little every few days.
I have taken on a lot of new things in the last month. I am sticking with some old tried and true things in my life and on Tripping Vittles. That said Welcome to the new Tripping Vittles page.
Tripping Vittles has so many people to thank for all the encouragement, help and pushing. I won’t list them all here because some think they have done nothing and they were vitally important to this process. At the end of the day, it was a village that has gotten me this far. I beleive the village will continue to move me forward.
What to expect going forward from the new Tripping Vittles. At least a blog post a week. I am aiming for Wednesdays, but we will see if I can stay or grow those posts in the next few months. My goal is to post Monday, Wednesday, Friday eventually.
The immediate news is that If you are in Central Ohio starting May 18th, You will find me Saturday Mornings until October 12th at the Westerville Saturday Farmers Market. There are some fantastic vendors there, and I have already partnered with a few to bring you more ideas and variety of uses for Tripping Vittles Spice Blends.
You will see some shorter posts with recommendations. Some simple, quick recipes. Longer stories about my life and travels. I will reflect on the world around us using Food, Travel, Life, and Music as the muse for my creativity
Thanks for your continued support and traveling this road with me. Let’s continue to Tripping Vittles.
Today our resident cocktail expert David Kline is sharing some stories about The Big Game and cocktails for a crowd. David has 40+ years experience in the hospitality industry and in this article he brings an added element. He shares with Tripping Vittles the honor of going to college in Wisconsin and the propensity to enjoy a large batch cocktail once or twice while earning a higher education degree! Read on for Super Cocktails for the Super Bowl.
Written By David Kline~“My personal background and 40 years in the hospitality industry have forged my diverse passions for food, wine, cocktails, education, history, theater, and music. My goal with each posting is to give insightful and entertaining topic substance with equal measures of honesty, humor, humility and history.”
TURKEY TALK – WINE WALK – BUILDING BRIDGES
If past is prologue celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends will continue to provide future generations of Americans with the opportunity to connect with our shared history, make new memories and revel in one of the most socially acceptable excuses for personal gustatory gratification and excess known to humanity. In short, the Thanksgiving meal is the perfect venue to build bridges across family, traditions, culinary creations and wine possibilities.(more…)