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TravelRant - Food Is Strange... No Matter Where You Go 
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Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:15 am
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Car(s): 1965 Wasp, 1966 Bellett, 1967 Bellett, 1969 Florian, 1973 Bellett GTR, 1976 Buick Opel by Isuzu, 1978 Gemini van
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Food is strange, no matter where you go, unless you are home.

I’ve been in the USA for almost two weeks now… and it’s still weird. I apologise for not writing home sooner, but the truly grandiose scope of Los Angeles has brought with it some late nights and some early mornings!

Food wise, I’m well aware I’m not about to walk down a sidestreet to be confronted by a grasshopper on a stick, but there is just nothing normal about a land that is 12,000 kilometres away with a separate history and culture… despite how similar we all look.

We have made a commitment to not eat at the same place twice in all seriousness; it’s actually harder to find the place you ate at last night than it is to just go to the next restaurant. On our first night in LA and we found a little Philipino-Malaysian-Hawaiian-fusion restaurant, however whatever they served to someone else smelled a lot better than we got… plus it wasn’t licenced.

A few nights ago we hit another restaurant; this time a restaurant AND sushi bar. Upon sitting down at the bar, the sushi chef, a towering and broad-shouldered, bald, angry looking Japanese man asked us, “Sushi?” We were like, “uh, yeah, uh we’ll have a look at the menu”.

His reaction to that was to yell ‘sushi’ again in a different tone. We worked out why the menus weren’t at the bar; as that section was only for sushi; both the food and the word. Despite that small hiccup, we moved to the correct section and got some great food; AND believe it or not, it was all fairly authentic stuff. I almost died of wasabi poisoning; however that was my own fault.

Cruising the ‘burbs around the Pomona area, it’s amazing how many fast-food eateries there are that are NOT part of a chain. There are plenty of “Bill’s Broiled Burgers” and other such things and while we’ve seen plenty of McDonalds, Jack In The Box and Burger King, the other, the non-franchised places are just as popular.

Weinerschnitzel. These are the strangest of burger joints. Many of them are set up in small A-frame buildings with a drive-thru style window facing the sidewalk and no eat-in section at all. The menu comprised mostly of burgers despite their claim to fame being hot dogs and there was a fair selection. As we were trying to sort out some food, a large Latino man also began to order. He stood at stared at the menu for some time…. Then in a voice that was much higher than I anticipated for a man of his age, height and girth, he squeaked “aaaah, eeeeet dozen maaaahhderrrr” and wandered off. Seems like the pot is as strong here as it is back home.

The Weinerschnitzel burger joint is the epitome of all that is wrong with fast food; disaffected youths carrying the various bits of the burger around in their bare hands before slapping it all together. Bizarre I thought, given that every single straw I have had so far has been individually pre-packaged.

Ah the straws. The other night at The Fox Sports Bar and Grille we asked the lovely waitress for a Beam and Coke. No Beam. Then we said, “oh some other bourbon”… and we got two straight bourbons.

Next drink, I asked for it with Coke. And got a Coke. Then got a straight bourbon. So I mixed it myself.

I think at this point she twigged this is what I meant as the next two came out with Cokes in them without me asking. Despite the confusion, she was lovely and thought our AUD$5.00 note was pretty, so I tipped her that and she was stoked.

Needless to say, a trip to America would not be complete without a taste-test of McDonalds. They invented it, they imparted it on us and now we have to see if the original is the best.

We pulled into (and under) the Arches of Death on Route 66 no less and despite McDonalds’ attempts at worldwide consistency, there was a variation. The local McDonalds buns were slightly more firm than what we’re used to… and that was it. Not bad considering how much water there is between us and them.

Finally, a couple of days ago we finally found a diner. Diners show up in every TV show and in every movie, however there hadn’t been a diner anywhere so far and we just happened to come across this one.

The thing was straight out of the 1970s and the staff themselves were the most amazing stereotypes. They knew everyone who was walking in (except for us, of course) and when queried how they were, one lady’s standard answer was “same shit, different day”. We’ve all heard it, but when you hear it come out of a middle-aged Californian waitress, you don’t know if you’re in Pulp Fiction or The Lost Boys. It does your head in.

Ross finally got his chance to order eggs-over-easy, which I think means make them yellower than they are in Australia. And he enjoyed the bottomless cup of coffee. Or he would have if they served coffee and not rancid burnt liquid in a cup.

We’ve eaten at other places too; Yoshinoya Asian fast food – just think of the worst shopping centre food-hall Asian food you’ve ever had, make it twice as bad and halve the price. Seriously, the Yoshinoya people had their salty slop in a plastic bowl before I’d got my change.

But food is not all bad; we did a trip to Disneyland and ate four meals there over two days. Sure, it was more expensive than a regular restaurant, but not by much – you’d pay more for pus on a stick from your local royal agricultural show than we did for many of the meals at Disneyland.

One thing though; and heed this warning carefully. American cheese is not cheese; it is some kind of polymer extract fortified with long protein strains, extract of milk and eye of newt. It is sometimes referred to as American Cheese… although it seems to be equally as often referred to as Jack Cheese. About as appetizing as it sounds but not quite as rude. Or disgusting. Almost.

Cheers,


Dave

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Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:13 am
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:17 pm
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Location: Rye Park, N.S.W.
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Sounds like you guys are busy.
Yeah, I've heard that they use a lot of sugar......in just about everything. But you've gotta try the wienerschnitzels & stuff I suppose. If you get to Springfield, you'll have to try the 'Good Morning Burger'
So, I can give Jack Cheese a miss. Good.
I'm curious if they can make a Bagel something you'd want to eat - we can't!
Keep the stories coming - It's a good read.
!
Cheers mates,
Matt.

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Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:04 am
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Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:51 am
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Car(s): 1964 GT Isuzu Bellett
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Bhhhaaaaaahahahahaaa !!! Yeah, burgers at "burgerbreakies". lets hope there've got a "johnnyberger".

Just a bit rude, but ya gotta eat,and......, if you don't ya die.

B.


Sat Sep 18, 2010 3:19 pm
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:17 pm
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Location: Rye Park, N.S.W.
Car(s): Doris, Aunty Mary, Shrek, Jimmy; GT, Wasp, Florian & Sed unrestos; 65 Elf; worn 02 Forester; 07 Santa Fe CRD, Sigma.
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I'm glad to read that you found "the best food I've eaten in my life" in New Orleans (Gumbo) after these other efforts.(Train ride thread)
Sounds like one of the best experiences has been in a town that has been in the bad news too much with the hurricane and oil rig blowup. Seems everywhere there is good to be found - you just gotta look.
Have a great rest of the trip.
Cheers, Matt.

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Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:55 pm
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