What’s Going on with Tripping Vittles

Posted on May 8, 2022

I want to quickly address What’s Going on with Tripping Vittles and where we are in both the spice business and the business of adventure.

You will start to see some changes with the Vittles. I will still and probably always have my spice blends but I am not going to be doing every market out there like I did last year.

Where will you find Tripping Vittles Spice Blends?

I will continue with Westerville Saturday Farmers Market as I think it is the best Market in all of Columbus land. You will also find me at a few of the Gahanna Farmers Markets. I will announce the dates for these soon. Beyond that, I will only be doing specialty one-off events throughout the year. The way the world is right now and the supply side issues for a very small business like mine has made it smarter for me to do things this way going forward.

These issues are why I still don’t have a full store on my website. Doing a full big sales platform and not being able to fill it for me was not a smart move. It was a time suck of immense proportions and stress that was weighing me down.

You can look for me to be selling on both Facebook and Instagram and if I can reach enough followers I will also open sales on TikTok. So give me a follow on these platforms and any others you frequent I am on almost all of them. That’s what’s going on with Tripping Vittles spice blends.

So if not a spice company what are you?

This all said Tripping Vittles is my baby and I intend to keep pushing for what I have always dreamed it to be and that is a place where I discover the world outside of my little bubble. I want to travel and tell people about it. I also want that travel to be accessible and realistic for everyone.

You may have noticed some changes in my logo and wording. If not yet you will as I move through all my media sites. I have made no effort to hide the fact my hero in all things food travel and drink-related was Anthony Bourdain. I admire greatly the ability he had to cross boundaries of social and political justice to tell the story of food and travel.

How my hero affects me every day

One of my absolute favorite episodes of No Reservations was when he was in Leon France. He sat with children at their school and ate with them and talked about food. When I first watched the episode I thought how rewarding to feed kids and make a bridge to both growing up loving food and learning about food.

Through a set of circumstances, I have become a lunch lady. Those circumstances have brought me infinitely closer to realizing my dream of making Tripping Vittles a whole experience, not just a place where I wax poetic when I have a few moments to share about some food or a recipe. I am the person making those differences and I am doing it all while being who I am. It is an incredible feeling!

What I never was and what I want to be

I have never wanted to be the place where I just write about a dish of food and then share a recipe. I have tried that. There are some really amazing people doing things like that. Check out Pinch of Yum her stuff is super cool. But that’s not me. I will happily share how to make something with my spices though. but who I am at my core is not Martha Stewart. I have spoken of it before but never had the time to be more like Anthony Bourdain but I do now.

Till the day I die, I want to adventure. I want to make a difference in the world and I want to do it with people I love and care about. I am becoming more of who I truly want to be every second that goes by. Becoming a lunch lady has been an amazing inspiration and also a giver of free time. I am still wrapping my head around the fact I get summers off!!

Life is an adventure! Eat, Drink and Travel

I have started to do videos and I really love learning the medium. Check out and subscribe to my youtube channel. I will still share my knowledge of 35+ years in foodservice it just will be wrapped up in a different package. My kitchen hack videos are a fun example of that.

So you are all caught up on What’s Going on with Tripping Vittles. Now keep your eyes peeled for the next Adventure and until then Eat, Drink and Travel!

#trippingvittles #adventure #livelifetothefullest

Food Insecurity: My Final Thoughts

Posted on May 17, 2021

Today’s post is my last official post from my Food Insecurity series and the start of Tripping Vittles being a full-time job for me. Food insecurity and helping feed people have become a passion project, but I will not focus on Tripping Vittles, though I want to share some food Insecurity final thoughts on what I have learned.

I have been faced with the reality of how privileged I am when it comes to food, even in the times I have been short on money to buy food. Or more correctly, the food I wanted to eat. 


There is dignity in food. And most of America does not understand it. I think there are places in the world that get it, France? But that is a post all its own. I did not understand the weight placed on having food, decent food, good food, great food, or out of this world, next-level exceptional food. 

The importance of choosing your food is vital to dignity. When food is a gift or handout, non-expired, non-rotten food is essential to someone’s humanity. 

Dictionary.com defines Dignity as a noun, plural dig·ni·ties.
Bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
Nobility or elevation of character; worthiness: dignity of sentiments.
Elevated rank, office, station, etc.
Relative standing; rank.
A sign or token of respect: an impertinent question unworthy of the dignity of an answer.
Person of high rank or title.
Such persons collectively.

I share the definition of dignity because out of this whole series, the processes we make people go through to get food, and the food we give them often came off as very undignified. 

What is decent food? It is different for all. When we provide food for people, are we giving them a dignified experience? Do we make it easy for someone to get food? Jumping through hoops is anxiety-inducing. 

Are we making sure that what we give is not rotten, expired, or not something anyone would want to eat? 

What is decent food to one person may not be decent food to another, but I think we all have to come to a place rich or poor that food is what sustains us, and there should be no judgment around what we eat as long as we are not eating people and pets. So people and pets are off the menu. 

If decent to you is a 100$ steak, that’s cool; please don’t judge if someone fills their belly with chips and mountain dew because that may be decent food to them. 

We tie so many things to food.

We tie so many things to food. Holidays, feeling happy, general celebrations that we forget that not everyone has positive memories associated with food. If you are hungry or don’t have food, then Memorial Day or July 4th looks way different. 

If someone in your life used food as punishment, will you ever be able to sit and truly savor a meal, or is it just sustenance until the next time you have to eat to survive? 

Speaking of surviving, when someone says they do not like something, do you honor that feeling because maybe their dislike of potatoes is because they had to eat potatoes every day of the week to survive.

I encountered another thing while eating food pantry food, and there is no easy way to say this. I would implore those giving food away to stop giving spoiled food to those in need. It is demoralizing, and it makes you feel a way I have a hard time describing. When I ate strictly from the food pantry, it was shocking how many rotten unsuitable items I received from the food pantry. 

I can go to the store or to a restaurant to eat when I choose if I did not have enough food. I cannot imagine what it must be like to receive all the meat for a week and realize it is rotten. How demoralizing it was for me. 

Food Insecurity Final Thoughts

This whole month comes down to a few simple things for me.

  1. There is so much food out there we just logistically have to find better ways to get it to the people who need it. 
  2. Very few people are scamming the system. and so what if they are. Far more people need food assistance than could ever scam it. The good outweighs the bad. Stop making it harder to get food. Rules are starting to come back as covid goes away. Maybe don’t change the practices back to pre-covid. And perhaps the simple and more complicated places should consider relaxing the rules and regulations. 
  3. The massive places like Mid-Ohio do not need your kids’ lemonade stand money. But I will tell you there are 3-5 organizations that I know of that could take $75 cash and feed many people who will never make it to Mid-Ohio or any other large food pantry. These grassroots organizations have Amazon wish lists. They have cash apps, and they are going right to the heart of food insecurity issues.
  4. Lastly, please do me a favor when somewhere you know of has a food drive. Think about what you are giving. Don’t give expired food. If you donate a ton of canned goods, make sure they are pop-tops or provide many can openers. 

Some more tips to help feed hungry people

  • Think about a whole meal. Hamburger helper is fantastic, but not if you don’t have ground beef. 
  • Powdered Milk and Water are essential to go together. 
  • Packets of flavored tuna and chicken will remove the monotony of eating the same can of tuna repeatedly.
  • A Monetary donation to a small grassroots organization helps allow a charity to get Cereal and give milk. In addition, the money enables the organization to pair meals that will go further and last longer. 
  • Bread is great with peanut butter but even better with jelly, and it kicks up a notch with cheese and lunch meat. In one month, I received 15 jars of peanut butter and one squirt bottle of jelly, which I would have done for some turkey and cheese. 
  • Lastly, if your church does outreach please please please do not tie receiving charity to the word of God. Do not make someone recite a bible verse to get food. Or attend a meeting with the faith involved before you hand them their meal for the day. Be more creative than holding food hostage to get a reaction to your God. Let your faith guide you; if you do it any other way, you are forcing your God onto someone for a meal. There is no other way to turn it then that’s a crappy thing to do.

We have so many layers of hungry in this country, and we have so much food. I mean seriously ridiculous amounts of wasted food! We throw food away in restaurants and cafeterias. We don’t buy ugly fruit and veggies in grocery stores, so it gets thrown away. 

I believe that the powers running the world are interested in keeping people hungry, but that is a conversation for cocktails or possibly an extended series all of its own. 

Until we meet for drinks or I write that expose, please seek out small grassroots organizations. Many specialize in Food Insecurity. Put a few bucks in their cash apps or buy something off a wish list.  If you are not sure, ask I can direct you to some really great organizations.

Rules of Engagement on Food Insecurity

Posted on March 11, 2021

I have been trying to figure out how to set rules of engagement for my series on Food Insecurity. If you have not read my blog yet, I will tell the story of food insecurity by eating almost all food pantry food for the next month.  I will live food insecure for the next month, but what does that look like?


I face some unique challenges So I am trying to set rules of engagement on the food insecurity series. One, I write a food and travel blog. I  usually take photos of food that sometimes cost as much as what a person has to spend on food for a week or month.  If I am going to do this challenge, I have to admit that part of what Tripping Vittles does is a privileged way to look at food.

 Since its inception, the concept behind the Vittles was uniting people over food. That has not changed, so I am comfortable telling this story of Food Insecurity. We need to unite and what better way to do that than over food.

 The next part is more complicated. I am not using this series to sell anything; that is not why I am doing it.  It comes about by being touched and finally finding a way I, Lauri, can make a difference globally, where 35 years in the foodservice business and what has taken place the last year.  These circumstances helped me find my passion for helping people and becoming more of a community citizen. 

Do I Change My Writing?

That said, do I change how I write? Do I remove my affiliate links? And do I not talk about Tripping Vittles products from spices to coffee? I have wrestled with this, and there are some things I have to say that will lead me to my rules of engagement for the next month. The first. It is not my place to decide how anyone food insecure or not spends their money.  I will continue adding my affiliate links where it is essential to the writing. If I cook with an air fryer, there will be a link to the blog post’s air fryer.  I am still a business, and that does not stop me from telling this story. The second all the things I have in my cupboards are fair game.  So yes, if I have a spice in my cabinet, I may use it. It may be my spice, or it may be some other brand, but my cupboards are fair game.

Rules of Engagment on Food Insecurity: The Freezer if off limits

 What is not a fair game is my freezer. What is in the freezer is mainly a quarter a cow; it is not to say someone that is not food insecure cannot have steaks or roasts; it just would not be valid if I kept going to my freezer to make a meal. The only thing that will come out of the freezer to cook is what I put in from a food pantry. 

Will I make gourmet food and other things with the food I get? Yes, Yes, I will! It is who I am. I cooked gourmet food with an iron and a tea kettle in college. Why would I stop when I have been given some wonderful and beautiful ingredients. College was 101 ways to make noodles taste different. I have many better ingredients now than back then.

Eating Out

Lastly, I am trying to put into words about going out to restaurants I will probably eat out this month, this is a quandary for me and I am not ready to talk about why. What I will say is I will as I always have, make an adjustment to my budget to afford a restaurant meal. These are choices we all make. I am sure I will discuss it in a future post. but I had to include it in my rules of engagement.

A Month-Long Series: Surviving Food Insecurity

Posted on March 7, 2021

Hello Tripping Vittles followers. This is a little something different than I have done before. This is going to be a month-long series. Surviving food insecurity or as I have come to call it “no shame in needing help”

Why This Topic Now?

I am embarking on this project that I feel is super important, but I want it to strike the right tone and give the correct information as not to offend.  I have dubbed this project “no shame in needing help.” It is a way to make people feel comfortable in asking for help feeding themselves and their families.

 A few things have happened over the last two months or so.  The first being I have found the way I want to give myself to my community and people in need.  I have learned a great deal over the last few years about food insecurity. With the pandemic,  many more people who have never worried about putting food on their tables now wonder how to feed themselves and their families.  Others are caring for more people in their homes and could use extra help to find more food and new ways to cook the food they get. 

What Am I doing?

After having some lengthy conversations with friends and people I look up to in the food donation world, I have decided to do a one-month project. I am going to use the resources around Columbus to eat for a month. I am going to show you how you can use these resources. And with what I get, I will show you some possibly new and different, and I hope tasty ways to use the food to make it feed more, stretch longer and taste delicious. 

I very much look up to The Food Soldier, and yesterday she gave me her stamp of approval not only as a great idea but also a much-needed element for food-insecure people. 

What is Food Insecurity?

At this stage, I would like to explain a little bit about food insecurity.  Someone asked me to explain what it is and who is affected.  I appreciated a person who was not themselves food insecure taking the time and care to understand. The following is how I explained it. 

The common definition is not knowing where your next meal is coming from. But it goes deeper and it looks like many things to many people.
If you have ever not had food in your possession to eat when you are hungry. Have you had to choose between feeding yourself or your kids, that is food insecurity.

 Have you had to take a pet to a shelter because you cannot afford to provide the pet and yourself food? That is food insecurity.

When the first of the month rolls around, and you choose to pay rent vs. buy groceries, that is food insecurity.

 Nearly all of us in the suburbs need a car to get to work( we can discuss the need for public transportation another time). Have you had to pick your car payment or gas over food? That is food insecurity.

When I Realized I was Food Insecure

At the first of the month, I realized I was food insecure in that time between jobs where the money is tight, and I had been working in a restaurant where I got a meal a day, five days a week.  Pay rent or go to the grocery store?  I am beyond privileged, and I could dip into a savings account and get a little money, but the realization is if I used that money to eat today, it might not be there for what it was intended later on in life.  The Thing is I am not alone; I have spent money earmarked for my later years to survive the last year.

If this is happening to me for the first time in 53 years. I imagine it must be happening to other people, and as I volunteered and heard people’s stories, it was and is. 

How the Month-Long Project Surviving Food Insecurity was Born

My story is how this project came to fruition. I needed to acknowledge it is ok to ask for help. Yes, it is super scary, but it is also super easy, and the road is paved with fantastic, kind, and generous people. 

How to Survive Food Insecurity

Tomorrow I start on this journey of Surviving Food Insecurity. Today I do a little planning. 

Lesson # 1  Finding Food. 

There are two resources I will share with you today that will help us find food to eat. The first is the aforementioned Food Soldier. Follow her on Facebook. The second is mapping out where to get food and the process. I will do this on Sundays using Freshtrak. You just put in your zip code, and a wealth of food options come up. Over the next month, I will share videos and recipes, and I will show you the food you get. And maybe most importantly, I will show you how a sense of community and caring can make it, so no one is hungry or alone in this world. There will be blog posts, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos I may even tweet some! Follow along, please, and share because we are all in this together!

What Would Anthony Bourdain Do?

Posted on February 12, 2020

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.

Pina Marañon
Pina Marañon

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!

Salvadorian Sample Platter
Salvadorian Sample Platter

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!