Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crisp apple streudels and schnitzel with noodles

In the wild, animals spend the majority of their time awake searching for food.  Lately I have been mindlessly watching the Discovery Channel, the Lions of Africa, the wild horses in Mongolia, the penguins of the Antarctic, the bears in Alaska and with each program I am always amazed and haunted by the harshness of nature, the unfairness of it all, the sheer challenge just to survive. If I question it, it doesn't make sense, and I can feel a migraine coming on just thinking about it. That's about the time I turn off the TV and head to the kitchen for a snack since it seems like the majority of my awake time is spent daydreaming about food.

Luckily for me I don't have to slaughter any sweet eyed livestock for my beloved IN-N-OUT burger, nor do I have to rope wild horses with their foal nearby so that I can steal their milk to make my favorite frozen yogurt. We are removed from living in the wild yet our main goal in life is the same, to survive, to live, and to live, we must be nourished.  So there is really no difference if we are bow hunting for that one kill that will hold us over for the winter, or if we are planning our weekly menu, adding to our long shopping list, cutting out coupons, reading Bon Appetit for new and sure to impress recipes, it is all about the food, the hunt, the kill, our survival.  When you think about the amount of waking time humans spend planning, shopping, preparing, cooking, and eating our three daily meals, plus a snack here and there, it is amazing we have time for much else.

When it comes to satisfying my taste buds, I must say that my focus is sometimes as intense and my determination as bullet proof as a lioness waiting for her next victim. I will wander miles for a few of my favorites. The difference is, I use currency as my weapon, the outcome is always in my favor, someone else has done all the work, and there is never a mess (except for an occasional tell-tale spill on my clothing). I will drive my wild beast of a car 35 miles to Davis for a Pinkberry yogurt, original with strawberries, nothing can stop me when I set my mind to it.

Half eaten original with blueberries, original with strawberries
still love pinkberry above all others
View from above - picture worthy goodness

It is no problem for me to drive 30 miles to Berkeley for another one of my favorites, Bake Sale Betty's chicken sandwich, and if in season, her wickedly good strawberry shortcake. Betty's is only open a few hours a day, Tuesday through Saturday, and sometimes on a whim, or whenever they run out of food, they might close early.  You never know.  So in one way, this hunt is never guaranteed.  But if you miss out, you will try again another day.  Patience is the name of this game.

Chicken sandwich with slaw (onion/jalapeno/cilantro/cabbage)
Betty's trademark ironing board tables
Betty's shortcake - heavenly

And when those comfort foods just aren't potent enough and there is a homesickness in my heart, here comes that longing for roast turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes.  And when that happens I will head 30 miles northwest to Glen Ellen and the Glen Ellen Village Market where theirs can rival the best home cooks Thanksgiving dinner.  They have one of the most impressive and extensive prepared foods sections and gourmet selections I have ever seen. 

The smallest town market with the biggest selection of gourmet food

And of course there is Pedricks.  Whenever I am driving on *(the) I-80 and get close to Dixon, my instincts tell me I need to stop.  The Pedrick Produce stand (actually much bigger than a stand) off Pedrick Road will always provide me with something to drag home.  Bags of pistachios, almonds, beautiful strawberries, oranges, toffee peanuts, every vegetable in season, and if you're into hot sauce, Pedricks has one of the best selections around.

Got sauce?

Pedricks Produce

So instead of feeling guilt over the ease I have in obtaining food, and how I actually get to enjoy it on a much greater level than just feeding my body, I will enjoy nourishing my soul as well.  Life is hard - hard enough, and I guess this is the trade off.  We get an easy pass when it comes to obtaining our food, our sustenance, but we still have to deal with mortgages, taxes, health insurance, irrational bosses, nosy neighbors, Donald Trump, yada yada yada.  Might as well make life as sweet as possible.

“Hunger makes you restless. you dream about food -- not just any food, but perfect food, the best food, magical meals, famous and awe-inspiring, the one piece of meat, the exact taste of buttery corn, tomatoes so ripe they split and sweeten the air, beans so crisp they snap between the teeth, gravy like mother's milk singing to your bloodstream.”
Dorothy Allison (1949--)

*(the) - for you Pammy :)


  1. Love it, love it, love it! Wish I could have Bakesale Betty's chicken sandwich right now! Isn't Glen Ellen market where we stopped when we were on our photography assignment???? We had turkey, mashed potates and gravy! Memorable! Thanks for *the reference- I'll be taking THE 101 and THE 880 next week....maybe we can meet on THE 80 for some good food!

    Love you and your blog! Bon Appetit!

  2. Glen Ellen Market is one and the same! I've been hooked since that photography assignment. And yes, the I-80 has some great food stops, Bake Sale Betty's perhaps? xo