• wickedly-good airport food

    March 31, 2010

    baja

    Okay, so it may not look like much.

    But when you’re missing California Mexican food and you’ve got time to kill at the airport, this place was a gift from the heavens.

    Check it out:  your choice of beans (I went with pinto), red rice, guacamole, salsa, and a big pile of fresh pico de gallo over romaine – all with your pick of either warm corn tortillas or chips.  It’s called the Peasant Plate, and I got it for just over $5 at the Baja Burrito in Nashville’s airport.  There are other branches around the city – where the price is even cheaper.

    I know, it’s not like you can hop over to this place very often – unless, of course, you’re a Nashvillian.  Or a Nashvillain.  I like that better.

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  • blog alert: contemplative hiking

    March 27, 2010

    It used to be that we were in awe of nature – of all its mystery, power, and beauty.  From this came the myths and the fables we created in an effort to understand it all.  We intuitively knew and respected our connectedness.  We understood that nature is us and we are it; and that was sacred.

    We have lost so much.

    My friend Margaret Emerson is on a quest to help you find your soul by re-connecting with the natural world via her inspiring, important blog Contemplative Hiking.  She’s also working on a book, which I’m also in awe about.  As I alluded to in my previous post, I’m completely baffled by the book-writing process – it has always seemed an extraordinary feat to me.  I can write post after post, but composing a whole book seems like a natural wonder.

    Even if you’re not in Colorado where Margaret does her hikes, add it to your news feed and let it nurture you.  You’ll find plenty of contemplative exercises that will make you look at your world, wherever you are, in a whole new way.  I especially love her concept of the secret world – of all the life that has come and gone before us, each one leaving its mark to sculpt the landscape as it is this very moment.

    Next up: What do figure skating and face wash have in common, and how are they helping the environment?  I’ll let you know, along with that best airport meal deal I hinted at earlier.

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  • southern with a side of history

    March 21, 2010

    I don’t feel the need to apologize for including non-vegetarian restaurants here since this site was never about being vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, or other.  My main purpose for starting Green Appetite was to show you how to include more plant-based food in your diet in ways that actually made you want to include them.  I think we can all agree this is a good thing.  For our bodies, for the planet.  What is generally unhelpful is labeling others – or our ourselves – one thing or another.

    And so when my Tennessean friends asked if I’d be okay with a typical Southern meal – emphasis on “Southern,” I said of course.

    Of course, especially if said meal is at a place with a name like Miss Mary Bobo’s and is to take place after our tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg.  No need to go into that experience here except to say that I think it’s one of the best-branded companies I’ve ever come across.

    jackdaniels

    In fact, I’m starting to think the whole notion of this being a “dry” county (you can’t actually drink the whiskey) is actually a very clever marketing ploy to call attention to the, well, marketing.

    The one-and-a-half hour drive from Nashville took us through plenty of green and cows munching on it.  Past Federal-style houses perched atop more green.  And by a surprising number of Mexican restaurants (stay tuned for another post about this).

    I’ll get to the meal in a moment, but my takeaway from Miss Mary Bobo’s (I’ll get that trippy name in as many times as I can), is that I’d love to spend a few months in Lynchburg researching a novel about schoolteachers at boarding houses.  This is probably never going to happen, especially as the most I’ve ever written of a novel is a single paragraph.  But the experience showed me, once again, that it’s not about the food.  And that perception really is everything.

    Miss Mary Bobo’s (heh) is an old boarding house now owned, not surprisingly, by the Jack Daniel’s empire.  Once you nab one of the sought-after reservations, you and fellow guests are seated in one of many dining rooms where meals are served family style.

    It’s not hard to be vegetarian in the traditional sense at all here – if that’s what you want to be.  Sure, there’s fried chicken and pot roast, but when I asked one of the hostesses what her favorites were, she was quick to point out the stewed apples spiked with Jack, the fried okra, and the “cabbage” casserole (I challenge you to find any cabbage amongst the sea of cheese).  “Oh, and there’s a carrot salad – if you want it,” she added almost obligingly.

    Before we sit down, there is a very important announcement: “The sweet tea is not very sweet; so feel free to add more sugar, y’all.”

    Taking our places around the table, I was downright peeved that our hostess would apparently be talking throughout the entire thing, and that she was seated – of all places – right next to me.  Yet as the lazy Susan spun around, a miracle happened.  My mind became more enthralled by her speech than by the fried whatever in front of me.

    Turns out the boarding house has been there since the late 1800s and was a place for the family-less to call home.  Day in, day out, bachelors and schoolteachers would sit around this very table for three meals a day.  They’d also get a bed – and probably their clothes cleaned – all for $14 a week.

    We never found out how long these people lived on this heavy food, but that’s not what really interested me this time.  I was curious about these schoolteachers.  According to our Miss Mary Bobo’s hostess (say that fast six times), “In those days life was hard.  If you were a woman, you were a wife, a nurse, or a schoolteacher.”  And that’s that.  Life was too hard.  Pick one or the other.  It was just a path.  Go this way or that way.  Doesn’t matter.  Hmm.  Very interesting, I thought.

    Now I was actually taking time away from my plate to ask my neighbor a question.  “So, it sounds like being single then didn’t have the stigma it has today?”  And of course my requisite follow-up: “I wonder how many of these wifeless businessmen got it on with the schoolteachers.”

    To my surprise, my hostess had never heard these questions before.  Not from any of the thousands of tourists who had come through those pristine white doors.  “Excuse me,” she politely says.  “I need to get the historian.”

    “Oh yes, life was hard then,” the smiley historian repeats, “Married women couldn’t be schoolteachers.”

    Sometimes, it’s just not about the food.  And that tea was like candy.  As for those boarding-house hook ups?  The case continues.

    missmaryb

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  • green nosh in nash

    March 15, 2010

    wildcow

    The Music City isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think vegetarian, but The Wild Cow is here to set the record straight. This Nashville restaurant’s staff say they love cattle so much they want them to be as free as the honky tonks that dot the town.

    It was my first time in Tennessee, and I was staying with my good friend Jamie, a self-confessed fussy eater who has given up bread for Lent.  That means a quick glance over the hummus and pita before settling on the tortilla chips and salsa ($3.25) – a generous, fresh rendition of the dynamic duo.

    We both order the Grilled Tofu Salad ($8), and Jamie surprises me by eating almost all of it, praising it as the best tofu she has ever had.  I concur, and I’m not much for tofu these days.  Tofu is a highly-processed product, and I stick by the theory that it is overused in the West.  I used to be a big soy consumer, but today I eat it only occasionally and prefer to have it as they do in the East: sparingly and fermented in the form of tamari or miso.

    The Wild Cow dishes out a preponderance of mock-meat items, something my fellow dinner Liz calls the restaurant on.  “If you’re eating vegetables, why do you want to be reminded of meat?”  I agree with Liz and think the plant kingdom has too much to offer to be disguised as anything but its glorious self.  However, I also know, as Jamie pointed out, that these types of dishes have a rightful place in “transitioning”.

    I’m a little perplexed by the necessity of a “What’s Tofu?” section on their website, especially since a quick Google search brings up a handful of veggie establishments in the Nashville area – there’s even a Woodlands Indian Vegetarian, for crooning out loud!

    Cheatin’ chikn aside, if you’re roaming East Nashville then The Wild Cow is definitely worth a graze.

    Stay tuned for more Tennessee tastes later this week, including my pre-flight fuelling deserving a round of applause.

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  • the baking of a man

    March 8, 2010

    I’ve talked before about how not having a TV for over five years was one of the best moves I’ve ever made.  It also became a luxury I’d partake of when I was somewhere other than home – sort of like being a kid and playing with someone else’s toys. But having spent the past couple of months in the States with family has meant finding myself in front of the TV quite a bit (see previous post).

    Two of my favorites for completely opposite reasons: No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

    I read Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential while I was doing patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu five years ago, and I can’t help feeling – or rather, hoping – that Ramsay is a Bourdain in the making.  I mean at a level of real growth – where Ramsay is the starter or “mother,” and Bourdain is the whole sourdough.

    When I watch Bourdain, I see a softened man, and hence a stronger one.  I see a man who has taken a few beatings to the heart and soul and is constantly looking to discover all that is wonderful in his world.  Naturally, he does.  Ramsay, on the other hand is – pardon the pun – hell bent on finding everything that’s wrong.  And that’s exactly what happens.

    I know which one I’d like to dine with.  What about you?

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