Friday, July 11, 2008

A Pickle, a pickle, My Kingdom for a Pickle…

Well, if you can’t tell from the title, food cravings have set in full force. I would pay a good 30 soles for a crisp, juicy Wanigan pickle. 20 more soles for a nice Styrofoam soup bowl of Intermission Deli pickles- an even 50 if you throw in a nice veggie sandwich with all the fixin’s. For a while, I was simply craving pickles in general. This is a holdover from the exceptionally bad pickles available in Columbus. My standards have lowered in the past year. However, at this point, I have my specific cravings, only able to be satisfied with the high standards of Bay City’s finest. Actually, I could probably get away with a Peanut Barrel pickle, courtesy of East Lansing, but there is no Ohio pickle that could do the job.

Actually, as long as we’re discussing these things, Columbus, OH, in general, sucks in terms of food. Sure, you can satisfy the chain cravings- Panera, Cosi, etc., but they just don’t have the cool, delicious local specialties. Now, Bay City, MI really only does the deli better than anywhere else. Yes, I realize that Los Cuatro Amigos is pretty good, Tommy V’s has some nice pasta, and all those other Bay City places are nice. However, I have lived in the Mecca of local restaurants: East Lansing, MI.

I realize that this doesn’t make sense. Columbus is much bigger and has a great local restaurant scene, according to sources. However, East Lansing does really good food from all over the world at amazing prices. I think I have already passed the peak of my culinary experiences in college. Even when I’m not being subjected to the same food every day like I am here, I dream of the wonders of East Lansing cuisine. I think I would burst into tears and find religion if someone showed up at my door with a guacamole tostada with a side of chips and salsa from El Azteco right now. I would cloister myself and dedicate my life to God if it meant that I could have El Azteco, Lou and Harry’s, Peanut Barrel, Flat’s, Thai Kitchen, Georgio's, Peking Express, and Caruso’s whenever I wanted them. I would also probably be very fat.

It’s funny, since I’ve been here, I never crave things that I can make myself at home. I don’t think I’m a bad cook. In Columbus, I like my fajitas, salsas, green bean casseroles, soups, salads, and fake meat specialties. (Sandip claims to like most of them, too….) In fact, I really enjoy cooking and am always a little disappointed when we have people over and they don’t eat my food. Every time we’ve had people in from out of town, they’ve wanted to help cook, which is sweet. But, I’m always sort of sad that they wouldn’t rather see what kind of food I might make for them. Because I like my food and I like to cook. However, I CRAVE that mystical haven of deliciousness that is East Lansing, plus the deli-riffic amazingness of Bay City. I dream about them at night and wake up with my tummy growling. I come close to tears with every bad meal I’ve ever consumed, knowing that I could have had something so much better, if only I’d decided to stay in Michigan.

It may seem melodramatic, but it’s the truth. I don’t know why I don’t crave homemade food. Perhaps it is a remnant from childhood (I told you all that hash was terrible, Mom!). I don’t think either of my parents really LIKES to cook. They’re not terrible at it. My dad has made this odd concoction called Nofakejake that is sort of a crowd pleaser… J Just kidding, Dad! We’ll have to try it out with fake meat one of these days!! My mom can open a can of German Potato Salad with the best of ‘em! (Actually, I could go for some meat-less German Potato Salad… ) However, cooking for them always seemed like a stressful experience (probably because I am such a picky eater) and why not just eat out instead? Bay City food is pretty good. If nothing else, the fast food selection is pretty choice. The Chinese food is something that makes the crave list sometimes. So, I think I am pre-disposed towards preferring restaurant food. Especially for guests and special occasions!! My brother and I used to get excited when one of my mom’s business associates would come into town because it meant pizza and “real pop.” (Pop with caffeine… yes, I continue to have that problem) Sometimes, it’d mean Chinese food. However, in my family, you could not have a guest over and not get them “nice food,” which meant eating out on the town. If you were eating homemade food, it was either a holiday (and justified taking a long time to cook some ridiculous meal including turkey or ham, which also meant that everyone was bringing something. Potlucks were their own special occasion and should count separately.) or you were telling them that they just weren’t as important as other people. During sleep-overs, I would eat dinner at the other little girls’ houses and would be secretly offended that their mom was cooking. When they ate at MY house, we usually had pizza.

Of course, my addiction to eating out is probably causing all of my fabulous health problems. I’ve also grown up to appreciate a home cooked meal. In fact, the best food I’ve had in Peru has come from the little abuelita at Mi Casa that cooked for me when I was sick. She was utterly sweet and gave me flashbacks to my own Grandma Florie when I was a little girl. I got to stay in bed, and she made me food and took me to the doctor. I suppose this would be the time to admit that I miss my friends and family much more than I miss the food. Hunger passes, but love is forever. Not that I wouldn’t like to have both. Tell you what, in August, we can all meet at El Azteco and I can have the best of all worlds. Especially if my parents bring some Bay City pickles.

Love you, Miss you. Have a pickle in remembrance of your homesick little Sarah.


William said...

Hi Sarah,
I hope we can bring pickles to our next gathering. I'm not sure but the memory may be better than the reality. But I hope you can get some chips and salsa or learn to enjoy the local dished. We sent a small package. It does not contain pickles. I only hope it gets there before you leave. I don't have much faith in the postal system. Enjoy some foods that you can find there or use tons of salt to hide the flavor. The system posts me as William, but I'm sure with the focus on food, you know it is Mom.

Sarah said...

Ah, I do enjoy the local food. It's just a lot of the same thing over and over again. Not a whole big range for vegetarians. However, the food here is good. Don't get me wrong! It is not Bay City or East Lansing, but it's probably similar quality to Columbus. Maybe even better....

AJ said...

We would love to see you when you come home. We are looking forward to visiting you in any city: Bay City, Columbus, East Lansing, or even Kalamazoo. I totally relate to missing East Lansing food. Their food is just so good!

AJ said...

Greg sez:

"Pickles, eh? I can't say that pickles are my favorite choice, but there is something pretty tough about craving a food that exists only in one certain spot. This posting really had me wanting El Azteco. However, it did get me thinking about how much I loved eating ceviche in Peru, and then I got a craving for that, too. Unfortunately, I think that vegetarian ceviche would just be avocados, cilantro, and lime juice, so don't order that, either..."