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Eating My Will To Live

July 12, 2010

So the past few days I took a little side trip, leaving the farm in rural Pennsylvania for the bright city lights of Washington D.C.  There I met up with my oldest friend ADS and together with our childhood chum (let’s call her La) we proceeded to eat ourselves silly for the better part of 72 hours.

The whole ordeal reminded me of a disturbing smoking cessation program that was around when I was growing up.  Part of the regime was that the smoker would be locked in a room with a carton of their favorite cigarettes.  But they weren’t allowed out until all of the cigarettes were gone.  The idea was that at the completion of this treatment, even the thought of a cigarette would be entirely unpleasant.

This was never my intention.  But seriously, I may not eat for another week.

For those who are interested in taking the vicarious journey, and see the grotesque amount of food consumed in a brief period of time, please click on through.  I am recording it for posterity, because this is the first time that food finally got the better of me.  Or maybe it was just the mighty combo of ADS and La.

Arriving on Friday night we went out for something that I haven’t had in a long long time.  And something that cannot be found in Albany.  Ethiopian food.  The three of us made a valiant effort, but could not finish the seven vegetable dishes and four meat dishes in front of us.  Granted, these were smaller sized portions.

Still, we ate and ate and ate.  Then I ate some more.  And just one more bite on top of that.  Then one last nibble.  It was so tasty, I wish I could have kept going.  The will was strong, but the body was weak.  Back at the apartment a nice Absinthe was waiting for me, to help soothe my stomach and send me off to sleep.  Plus I got the added bonus of showing ADS all about forming and appreciating a proper louche.

Saturday I got to sleep the sleep of angels.  Which is also known as sleeping-in without the specter of children waking you up.

It was so late that our first meal was a post-noon brunch of soul food.  Dark meat fried chicken, fried boneless breast, braised short ribs with barbecue sauce, collard greens, yams, macaroni and cheese, corn bread and sweet tea.

Now I’m not the world’s biggest fan of macaroni and cheese, but this stuff was stunning.

The three of us did respectably well, leaving just one piece of chicken, one corn bread, some yams, and a bunch of delicious fat and connective tissue from the short ribs.  It was a crying shame that we couldn’t finish that last piece of chicken, but there was more eating to be done.

We drove off to the waterfront, which isn’t some gussied up tourist attraction, but more akin to Steinbeck’s cannery row.  There are permanent barges tied up to the dock, which are selling all variety of fish to a broad cross section of the public.  Some of the merchants are also cooking up some seafood.  There are steamed spiced shrimp and all manners of fried foods.

Since this was more like linner we got just a couple of the shrimp, hush puppies, some fried clams with french fries and the fried calamari.  What can I tell you, reading a lot of Ruth Fantasia’s stuff has its consequences.

Afterward it was time to leave the district and do some grocery shopping over the river in Virginia.

I think we did the most damage in the International market which was dominated by Asian and Latin delicacies.  For some reason, even though at this point I couldn’t even look at food, ADS and La were exhibiting very little restraint.  I almost lost it when La bought two boxes of mochi ice cream and an unusual fish shaped ice-cream sandwich with red beans for us to eat in the parking lot.

But only as we were wolfing down these ice cream novelties did someone point out the panaderia.

Curious, we ventured inside.  I couldn’t even consider a horchata or a slice of tres leches.  But ADS and La walked out with a box full of fried plantains.  These were not for now, they were going to be part of dinner. Although we all sampled one each in the parking lot.

The rest of dinner was procured at another local market with the right kind of Honduran cream sauce La had in mind for our Latin/Caribbean themed dinner.  Which included papusas, Jamaican beef patties, croquettes, and a variety of other less than healthful options.  ADS pulled some fresh herbs out of his planter for mixing up some stunning cocktails, so at least we got something verdant in the diet for the day.

Which of course brings us to Sunday.

Sunday I couldn’t eat.  Seriously.  I couldn’t even consider it.  It was like a food hangover.  Something I’ve never experienced.  The very notion of food was unappealing.  I was able to sip on a lovely, if not perfect, cappuccino from the Illy café.  And I had a refreshing watermelon lemonade from an amazing place called Sweet Green.

But just like a hangover, sometimes you need the hair of the dog that bit you to recover.  And recover I did when I had my first bite of banh mi from a little stall in a Vietnamese mega mall.

It was like heaven.

Not having learned my lesson from just the day before, we went a little crazy.  I can’t tell you exactly how many sandwiches I ate.  Frankly, I don’t even want to try and count them.  But in total, we bought 12 sandwiches from 3 stores.  Now granted, there were three of us, and we went to a party and shared some of our bounty with additional friends.  All the same, I don’t think I’ll be needing another banh mi for a while.

It took a long time before we were hungry again for dinner.  Regrettably Bon Chon chicken was closed for the day, but thanks to Yelp we did find a 24 hour Korean restaurant where we were able to get a bunch of classic dishes.  Amazingly it seems like we finally learned a lesson and only ordered three dishes for the three of us, and one order of Korean dumplings to start.  And while there was still tasty food on the table, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and left full without feeling sick.

Which of course meant I could have one of those fish shaped ice-cream and red bean sandwiches back at the apartment.

When I get back to the farm, I hope they are not expecting me to eat much.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mama Ass permalink
    July 12, 2010 2:09 pm

    I’m over-full just from reading!

  2. July 12, 2010 6:03 pm

    Not too shabby. One of these days I too will try a banh mi. When you describe something so shortly, I know it’s good.

  3. Cindy permalink
    July 12, 2010 11:19 pm

    I know the “food hangover” feeling all too well. Whenever I travel (especially when it’s been on the corporate dime) and I’m able to eat great food in great restaurants, I always seem to over-indulge. I’m surprised that this is the first time it’s happened to you!

    The only time I’ve ever had Ethiopian food was in DC, too. What I remember most is the strange, spongy, moist bread that you use to eat the other food on your plate. I’m still sad that my sister no longer lives in DC after she spent five years there in the early 90s.

    Now, let me continue to try to wrap my head around the concept of “fish shaped ice-cream sandwich with red beans…”

  4. Sarah M. permalink
    July 13, 2010 9:55 am

    Daniel, with this attitude you’ll be a true upstate New Yorker soon enough!

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