Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, any more than we can enjoy theirs. ~ Mark Twain
Go to almost any town in the USA and you will find a Mexican place, a pizza joint, and a bar selling a mixture of ‘Italian’ and ‘English’ food. If you’re in a larger town you will probably also find a sushi restaurant, (Sakura in St. George UT is pretty good), and likely there will be a Chinese place, and a Thai restaurant. Sakura in St. George has a super entrance doorway.
Is there such a thing as ‘American’ cuisine, or is it merely foods borrowed from the rest of the world? I would aver that real American food consists of steaks, burgers, hot dogs, french fries, salads, and of course lots of bad cheese and ketchup.
On my recent US road trip I ate the best steak I’ve ever had, and didn’t eat the very worst chilli dog I’ve ever been served. The quality of the food in the USA goes from very, very good to stuff I wouldn’t give a dog.
In the same joint that served that great steak, (White Mountain Mining Co, Rock Springs WY) I also had a truly boring salad that was 90% iceberg lettuce, and a baked potato that was left over from the day before. On the same trip I also enjoyed a really good pizza from a place called Craftsman Wood Fired Pizza, in Placentia , Orange County CA.
In California, in the western USA in general, they also have a buffet thing going. My friend and I had a pretty good meal at a buffet place in Primm Nevada. On the way back to civilisation, Primm, just like every other town in Nevada, is totally devoted to casinos, gambling, and gamblers. I don’t gamble, my friend loves the slots, and that can be a little annoying for both of us. If you don’t like gambling, don’t ever go to Nevada.
The most impressive buffet I’ve ever been to, in my whole life, was the Champagne Sunday Brunch, aboard the RMS Queen Mary, in Long Beach California. If you’re ever in Southern California, I would strongly recommend you take your girl there for Sunday brunch. Just don’t eat much the day before, and make certain that one of you is the designated driver, (or book a room). There is a fabulous cocktail bar aboard her too.
A few things for the unwary traveller to bear in mind when eating at a Restaurant in the USA; try to go during their happy hour, to European eyes places close very early, remember to add sales tax to the prices when you’re budgeting ~ and on top of that the standard tip anywhere is 20%, (and I hate that). Don’t expect to be given cutlery, (Americans are like children and eat with their fingers), and if there’s a wait for a table, you can always eat at the bar, where it’s first come first served. (I hate eating at the bar because brash Americans will talk to you while you’re eating.)
In bars that serve food the beer is generally pretty good, but the wine and margaritas can be of very variable quality ~ they will still get you very drunk. The food in most American bars is garbage.
Americans can eat garbage, providing you sprinkle it liberally with cheese, ketchup, mustard, chilli sauce, Tabasco, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the dish ~ Henry Miller, American Writer.
All in all, eating in the USA is a different and sometimes unnerving experience for a well-mannered Englishman. But then eating in France, Greece, Italy, Spain… has its own idiosyncracies. Close your eyes and enjoy the experience. Some American food is fabulous, and sometimes the dining experience is even better.
Just don’t eat Mexican food…
Nissan Rogue SUV
I’ve been on long road trips, (Tuscany, The Loire Valley, back to Tuscany, Exploring California, and driving 3,000 miles to witness an eclipse), in all kinds of cars; Triumph TR6, Lotus 7, Ford Mustang, and lastly driving from California to witness a total eclipse of the sun in a Nissan Rogue.
Although it isn’t always completely possible, the car should completely suit the trip.
And this choice of car comes down to where you’re going, how far it is, what’s the weather going to be like, what kinds of roads are you going to be driving , and exactly who is the girl riding shotgun.
For my recent trip I knew I was going to be driving up to 600 miles in a day, on a mixture of LA freeways, long desert roads, and mountain climbs. Also I knew that the girl riding shotgun was going to want to feel safe, be comfortable, and carry an unconscionable amount of luggage.
There also had to be room for Marmaduke.
Ergo, I chose to rent a reasonable-sized SUV, and Enterprise at LAX could offer me a Nissan Rogue, which was vastly over budget, but my friend with all the luggage was worth it.
What’s good about this car? It’s big enough for two on a long road trip, (swallows luggage with ease), it does good mileage, (we averaged 29 mpg, and that’s US gallons), it’s quiet, comfortable, holds the road well, and the engine has a lot of low-down power. What’s bad, well, it was very over budget, and has some annoying blind spots.
Would I recommend this car to a friend? Yes. In a New York Second. With definite confidence. (Of course, you may find your dream car on a long road trip.)
Another important thing on a long road trip: don’t have a girl riding shotgun who thinks she can drive better than you.
The haunting of history is ever present in Barcelona.
Despite just having returned from a four-week vacation in the USA, I’ve now booked flights to Barcelona, to see a very close friend. I fly out there On September 26th, and come back to England on September 29th
The journey from Newcastle upon Tyne, to Amsterdam, to Barcelona, is about 11 hours each way, and the flights are costing me about $400. Add in hotels, taxis, meals, and the like, and this will easily be an $800 / $1,000 short break.
Barcelona is a fabulous city, which I’m only visiting for two days on this trip. I ‘m going a long way for only 2 days, but what price on friendship?
Marmaduke and I went to the USA to witness a total eclipse of the sun. To Marmy and me, the USA seems to be doing pretty well right now. We saw quite a lot of people driving Jaguars.
Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night… The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul. ~ Victor Hugo
During our trip we travelled some 16,000 miles, including driving 3,282 miles in our rented SUV. (We needed an SUV rather than a Mustang convertible to take all the luggage the Girl Riding Shotgun brought on this long road trip.)
Marmaduke and I visited Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, Dublin in Ireland, Amsterdam in Holland, LAX, Orange County, drove through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and into Wyoming, (then back again to Orange County in sunny Southern California).
We also visited the Queen Mary in Long Beach for a champagne Sunday brunch, went up to Big Bear Lake, and kicked back at the Southern California beaches in Little Corona, Aliso, Laguna, and best of all Crescent Bay. Went shopping in the local Mall and sundry thrift stores, checked out the Parks in Orange county, and generally hung out in some cool bars.
Finally flew back to the UK from LAX, via Paris and Dublin before arriving back in the UK on September 10th ~ broke, exhausted, and filled with amazing memories.
Right now, and back in the garret, Marmaduke and I have 1,111 unread emails in my inbox, 3,970 pictures on my camera, a good suntan, a little jet-lag, and a pile of laundry from our trip.
Marmaduke also wants to know why he couldn’t stay in SoCal… dude…
My advice? Go on a very, very long road trip in the USA. But, whenever and where ever you travel, take half the luggage you think you will need, and at least twice as much money as you think you could possibly spend.
It’s best not to stare at the sun during an eclipse. ~ Jeff Goldblum
Pictures taken with a Panasonic Lumix
Life is not merely being alive, but being well.
If you adopt a healthy lifestyle, not only will you feel better, you will also add ten or more years to your life. But, what is a healthy lifestyle? Turns out that not smoking, (nor abusing prescription or street drugs), drinking booze only in pretty strict moderation, and keeping to a healthy weight are the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle.
Smoking and drinking may look cool, for a short while, but after a short while those pastimes will turn an attractive women into a cackling, wrinkled, old hag.
The reason fat men are good-natured is that they can neither fight nor run. ~ Theodore Roosevelt.
Personally, I would add another three things we should all do if we want to be fit and healthy well into our senior years; get plenty of good quality sleep, get plenty of appropriate exercise, and eat a good, healthy diet. Therefore, if you don’t want to suffer a horrible and early death, from this moment on you should;
- Stop smoking. Stop smoking weed too. Smoking is dirty, disgusting, anti-social, and it will kill you in a selection of particularly nasty ways.
- Drink only in moderation. If you regularly take more than a couple of drinks in an evening, if you empty a bottle of wine in a couple of days, if you have a cupboard full of half-empty bottles of spirits ~ then you have a drink problem, and eventually it will make you very ill.
- Don’t be fat, don’t be obese. It is very easy to stuff yourself with burgers, take-outs, canned food, and other unhealthy crap calories. Type 2 diabetes will make you very ill, and then it will kill you. There are three foods / ingredients you should never, ever, knowingly have in your diet; sugar-free / diet soda, high fructose corn syrup, wheat, wheat flour, wheat products.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep. Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you feel tired and grumpy. Lack of enough proper sleep causes accidents, makes you stupid, kills your sex drive, and puts you at greater risk of; heart disease, heart failure and heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.
- Take enough appropriate exercise. Just a daily walk can add 7 years to your life. You don’t need to join an gym and lift heavy weights. Both yoga and tai chi have a myriad of health benefits, improving your balance, control, fitness, flexibility, reducing the risks of falls, sprains, and other injuries, easing pain, and reducing the symptoms of depression.
- Have a good quality and healthy diet. And, there are lots of cool diets to choose from; Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Pritikin… The key is don’t eat junk, have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, eat slowly and chew your food properly, and don’t stuff yourself at every opportunity.
Americans and the British are much less likely to live long and healthy lives than do the inhabitants of most industrialised western countries, and it has nothing at all to do with the standards of medical care in the USA and the UK. In fact, the Japanese have the highest average healthy life expectancy in the world ~ and it doesn’t have anything to do with either sushi or rice.
Japanese people give attention to health in all aspects of their daily life. Professor Kenji Shibuya.
Some things you can do today to work towards that fitter, healthier, happier life in your senior years are;
- Change your attitude ~ tell yourself, convince yourself, that you will be fitter, healthier, stronger, more capable, filled with self-confidence, and more self-aware.
- Get your blood pressure checked.
- Eat a better diet ~ stop eating junk.
- Stop knocking back the booze in the evenings. Especially DO NOT drink just before you go to bed.
- Stop smoking.
- Start exercising. There are both mental and physical benefits to regular exercise ~ at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week. Walk, (at least) 10,000 steps every day.
- Walk don’t drive. Learn to drive in a slower, calmer, more relaxed manner.
- Don’t get stressed. Practice meditation and mindfulness ~ just relax.
- Don’t hang out with people who eat junk, smoke, drink, and slob about just watching sports TV all day. Stay out of pubs, bars, and down-market restaurants. If you can’t do those things you need to get to an AA meeting.
- And for goodness sake, stay out of hospital. Hospitals are incredibly unhealthy places to be for very long.
These are all simple lifestyle changes, and each one is pretty easy on it’s own. Taken together these lifestyle changes will make a massive difference to your health, fitness, and happiness. As a side effect you will stop throwing huge hunks of change down the drain.
A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~ Paul Dudley White.
Being angry, hateful, jealous, negative, stressed…, will all damage your physical, mental, and emotional health. In fact, just believing you are healthy cuts your risk of an early death by three-quarters.
Mens sana in corpore sano ~ a healthy mind in a healthy body.
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Always choose fish from a sustainable source.
Perhaps for some good reasons Tuna is nowhere near as popular as salmon. However tuna makes a very healthy meal, and perhaps should appear more often in our menu planners. But, always choose sustainable tuna to eat.
Many people eat canned tuna, which is OK if there’s nothing better on offer. However, if all you’ve ever had is tuna out of a tin, then you’re missing out on one of life’s great experiences ~ fresh tuna steaks grilled on the barbecue.
Tuna is also an essential ingredient if you’re thinking of home-made sushi.
Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest has a fabulous recipe for a spicy brown rice seared tuna roll bowl. This is a complete sushi dinner in 30 minutes! Looks great doesn’t it? Tieghan also has a recipe for Korean avocado tuna sushi roll.
Spicy Brown Rice Seared Tuna Roll Bowl
Some tuna canapés from Petra at Food Eat Love; sesame crusted tuna and watermelon soldiers, and you should be able to make these in 15 minutes. Great to serve with drinks in your yard on a sunny day.
Tuna and Watermelon Soldiers
This is a brilliant idea from Chungah at Damn Delicious ~ healthy snack boxes for an entire week’s lunches. Greek yogurt tuna salad, an entire week in one twenty-minute tuna salad meal prep. Now there’s no excuse for not taking a healthy lunch to work every day.
Tuna Salad Meal Prep
From our BBC good food I can offer you this Moroccan-spiced tuna, ready in 10 minutes. Now that’s a fast, easy, healthy, and tasty dish.
Sesame Albacore Tuna
And, another recipe collection from delish; recipes to make you rethink tuna. This includes an incredibly easy dish from New Orleans; poached tuna with kumquats and jalapeno.
Poached Tuna with Kumquats and Jalapeno
Drinks. For most of these dishes you may want to drink a Japanese beer like Asahi or Sapporo, or perhaps a really good traditional sake, (try buying at Tengu Sake online). However, Fiona Beckett at Matching food & wine, has some great wine suggestions to go with tuna.
What’s the Best Wine Match for Tuna?
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Nothing is better than going home to good food.
For some of us, midweek dinners can be a real chore, so we resort to take-out or pre-prepared meals bought from our local supermarket. Yet we can do better than that. These recipes are all delicious, easy, quick and healthy. So why not try spending a half-hour cooking something, rather than buying an
The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is spend ages standing at the stove making dinner. So, from Averie Cooks we have this baked ham and cheese omelette, and ham and cheese are such a great pairing.
Baked Ham and Cheese Omelette
A pasta bake is such an easy and versatile dish, and Amanda Wren-Grimwood, at Chez Le Rêve Français, has this great recipe for a chicken and broccoli pasta bake. Most of us should be able to whip this up in a half-hour. Looks delicious to me.
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake
If you are having friends over, or you just want something more exotic, Petra at Food Eat Love has this onglet steak with loaded fries. This will take you 10 to 15 minutes to prepare, and you can make yourself a great salad while it’s all cooking.
Onglet Steak with Loaded Fries
Talking of great salads, Tieghan Gerad at Half Baked Harvest has just posted this utterly beautiful Tuscan summer stone fruit, tomato, and burrata panzanella salad. I love Tuscan and this is one recipe I am certainly going to put on my own regular diet.
Tuscan Summer Stone Fruit, Tomato and Burrata Panzanella Salad
If you are vegetarian, or vegan, then maybe try this fresh tomato spinach garlic pasta from San Francisco Lady Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower. This dish has just a few ingredients and should be ready in 30 minutes.
Fresh Tomato Spinach Garlic Pasta
Finally for this week, from Chungah at Damn Delicious we have 10 weeknight chicken breast recipes ~ including this fabulous chicken lazone. Always worth keeping some chicken breasts in your freezer, all you have to do is remember to take what you need out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the refrigerator.
If you have a slow cooker, then try using that to make a weeknight dinner, which will last you a couple of days ~ and you can also take to work for lunch. There are some slow cooker recipes on an earlier post of mine.
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Real Men don’t eat quiche.
Not all frittata are called frittata, sometimes they’re called a quiche, and in this part of the world they may be called a ham and egg pie. The thing is a good frittata is an extremely versatile dish. One can make it for lunch, or a light dinner, and then have it for breakfast, lunch at work, or dinner with a salad the following day.
This is an interesting, quick, and easy recipe from Averie at Averie Cooks ~ kale and tomato frittata. You can make this in 10 minutes, or if you’re like my friend in Southern California ~ a half-hour.
Kale and Tomato Frittata
This is a fabulous recipe from Heather Christo ~ frittata with shitiake mushrooms and goat’s cheese. Some say they’re not a fan of goat’s cheese, without ever actually having tried it. Trust me, this is a great combination.
Frittata with Shitiake Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese
Chive and Brie Frittata
From Jessica Merchant at How Sweet It Is we have a spiralized sweet potato, kale, and bacon quiche, which looks a fabulous dish. This recipe may also be better than a normal frittata to take to work for lunch because of the pasty base.
Spiralized Sweet Potato, Kale, and Bacon Quiche
Seasonal Vegetable Frittata
I know that my friend in Southern California like butternut squash, (don’t ask me why), so just to please her I have found this recipe from English Lady Petra at Food Eat Love ~ butternut squash frittata. I guess I could make it for my friend in SoCal…
Butternut Squash Frittata
In this part of England the nearest thing we usually get to a frittata, or a quiche for that matter, is a ham and egg pie, (sometimes and egg and bacon pie). Savoury pie isn’t something I’ve often seen in my travels around the USA, but you guys should really try this old-fashioned egg and bacon pie. What a great recipe for a picnic, or as something to take to the office for lunch.
Old Fashioned Egg and Bacon Pie
Finally for this week’s Food on Friday we have another one of those recipe compilations. This one from All Recipes UK has 62 different frittata for you, including this dead easy onion frittata from Maria Antoniette.
I’m afraid my friend Marmaduke
only likes his eggs soft boiled.