How I Almost Starved In California – a short personal essay

I’m from Noo Yawk.  Where food is food and the pigeons know it.  So for me to lift myself up and stay with friends elsewhere for six weeks…is a terrific sacrifice…culinary-wise.  Unless of course we’re talkin’ Paris, Rome…Singapore.   Uh-uh…this is the great state of California, we’re talkin’ about.

Beautiful place California…gorgeous topography, green, beautiful homes, sunshine, healthy looking people…always smiling.  Just lost a job?  Never!  Broke up with your boyfriend?  …Smile!  Everyone’s tall, blond, and slim.    I could slit the women’s throats…easily.   Food?  Booooorrrriiing!

I’m fortunate enough to have some very nice, generous friends living and barbequing in California.  Well, that’s what they do.  They barbeque everything.  cow, fish, lamb, fowl, hot dogs, veggies, the works.  Watch your hand.  If it gets in the way, ya’ got yourself a barbequed hand.

God forbid a meal should be cooked in the kitchen.  California blasphemy!   Everything is outdoors and bbqued.  Hey, it’s delicious, but whatever happened to platters of food, served steaming from a cozy kitchen?  Nah!  Stick it on a spit; and while your serving talk the diner to death about yours and your neighbors recipes for barbeque sauce.  Talk talk talk…shaddup and eat for Gawd’s sake.    Don’t wanna hear about dry rubs, wet rubs…I wanna taste it!

Okay, so I tasted it.  And it’s good.   But where’s the variety?  I’ll tell ya where.  California Spa Spaghetti!  Ready?  Californians make whole meals of this.  Spa spaghetti is made not from semolina or Durham wheat, but usually from something called spelt.  No, I didn’t misspell it.  Duh…it’s some kind of “healthy” grain..  Right away the alarm sounds.  .So okay,  you cook this thing and then what they do is pour cheap tomato sauce over it and serve it with…you guessed it….a smile.   Tastes like shredded cardboard.   So waddya do.  You execuse yourself, and tell your hosts you’re  meeting a friend, and going shopping!   They think clothes.. Ha!  Nah!  You’re on the hunt for FOOD!!!

You likkety split to your rented car, and drive.  Anywhere…where there looks like they serve decent food..On the way you pass an apartment building with one solid brick wall on which is painted a huge sign.  HERE!!!   HOT DOGS!  NEW YORK STYLE!!!

What a joke.  Hot dogs with chili peppers., relish, fried onions, tomatoes,  even chick peas and the ever lovin’ alphalpha sprouts.  But when you ask for sauerkraut and mustard, the New York style,  you get the look… the look that’s  really the finga!

You return to your host later that evening, and they invite you out to the candle-lit patio…very nice…for some drinks and and little finger sandwiches with Monterey Jack cheese and… you guessed it.. alfalpha weeds.  Oh Gawd!   That’s the appetizer!  There’s an entree?  What? .. grass and fresh imported barbequed giraffe?    By now, you’d kill for a greasy Manhattan diner.

You excuse yourself saying you’d like to take a swim before the sun goes down.  Sure, they say…  Little do they know you’re planning on swimming and not stopping until you reach the Pacific Rim and maybe some pot stickers, soba noodles, a little chicken tandoori….

But that’s another story.


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About 1emeraldcity

Teacher, writer, touch of the poet, laughter, wit, cats, all animals, nature, solitude, friendship, cosy pubs, flamenco, classical guitar, good food...I even savor dark moments...occasionally.
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20 Responses to How I Almost Starved In California – a short personal essay

  1. Heather Rubright says:

    This was great!
    California is my idea of heaven on Earth. I wish that I lived there instead of here in Hell. I cried when I had to leave California and I’m so homesick for it. You are truly blessed to be able to live there. If only I hadn’t married a mommy’s boy.(But I love him)
    You have a true gift for writing. Please do lots and lots more.

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      Yes, California is topographically beautiful.. Glad you enjoyed this Heather. But you know what I’m gonna walk away with here? That despite Hubby’s being a mama’s boy, you love him. You’re just a loving, generous human being. I love that! Thanks for the read and supportive comment, Heather!

  2. Quirina says:

    There is nothing as sweet as home and it don’t matter where that is, right?

  3. Kit says:

    Hi Jackie!

  4. peterwilkin says:

    Lol ~ excellent write Jacquie ~ won’t happen if … sorry, WHEN you fly across the pond to visit us here in the UK … we can do greasy spoon food as good as anyone. Full English breakfast on your arrival (even if it’s bed time): fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, beans, black pudding & deep-fried bread with a huge pot of coffee in a chipped mug! :)) #whenyacominthen?

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      I’m waiting at your groaning board, fork clutched in one fist, knife in the other. Innkeeper! more coffee! Love the touch w. the chipped mug…hahahahahahahaha! Thanks for read and comment, P. :)))

  5. Martin says:

    I really had no clue of New York and Californian food … but I enjoyed reading your essay. Reminds me a bit of the canteen we used to visit and where nearly everything was deep-fried, even the veggies. Hope you didn’t have to cross the Pacific but that you found some restaurant with tasty foreign cuisine …

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      California is known for its barbequed meals and for concentration on healthy choices. I was just making exaggerated fun of their choices and habits. They certainly do have good restaurants in California…I think San Francisco is a better choice for foodies. And Yes, I did find some choice cafes and restaurants in L.A. Thanks much, Martin for the read and comments. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. fridayam says:

    Lol–I can only remember Angel Dust about California:) Oh and the burger hut in the shape of a huge frankfurter–nice burgers! x

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      Never had angel dust. I don’t remember seeing a burger hut in the shape of a frankfuter, nor did I ever have a frankfurter in a hut in the shape of a burger. Huh?? Duh? Well, anyway, thanks for the read and comment..*scratches head* :)))

  7. Tammy says:

    Okay, let’s have a sit down. I’m a native Californian (smile) and while I left for a dozen+ years to live in Denver, I’m back and defending the home ground. You give me a jingle some time and I’ll take you to Tommy’s, Pink’s, Dinah’s and various other places that serve food sure to clog your arteries but please your senses big time. Well, okay, I concede, we do BBQ pretty much everything. The cat disappears every time we fire up the barbie. Smart move – smart cat. And we do have our fair share of blondes (but are they really?) and I would just as soon run them over as look at them. But the majority of us Cali folks are pretty awesome (just don’t cut in front of any theater lines) down home folks. Aw, come on, give it a chance. Enjoyed the read. Seems we have much in common (aside from Twitter madness)….a sassy (still smiling) sense of humor.

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      Well you gotta know, this was written in fun. Sure like the bbq, and Cali does have some good restaurants…but aw, come one, this health nut thing they pursue…alphalpha sprouts, spelt? Good gawd! Glad you enjoyed the read…and hey…Love visiting Cali…just don’t wanna eat or live there. Thanks for the comment! Cheers!

  8. marousia says:

    Bwahahahaha brilliant!!!!!! We do great breakfasts here – there are places that do breakfast all day – eggs, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, bacon, etc… and then there is Greek food, and Thai, and Vietnamese and Italian with old school pasta and sauces – real Carbonara…. and Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese from many provinces….. all within five minutes from where I work and did I mention our coffee….

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      Tee hee! Well I could probably end up down under on that swim to the Pacific Rim. Let’s see, I’d have to swim ..what…south, due east or something? Knowing me, you’d have to send the Australian Coast Guard out looking for me! Glad you enjoyed the write! See ya’ for brekkie! :)))

  9. marousia says:

    Hi again Jackie – I have given you a Liebster Award :)

  10. Eva Von Pelt says:

    Lol!!! Great perspective…Thanks for sharing : )

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