The trip was an adventure. Let me tell you the story of our country as I experienced it that spring in three food vignettes
We stopped just into Mountain Time in Oglala, Nebraska and went to a restaurant that served Mexican food and, importantly! given our road-weariness, beer. My vegan traveling companions asked, “Are the beans and rice vegetarian?”
The young waitress said she didn’t know, disappeared, and came back with an older waitress.
“Rice is a starch,” announced the older woman. “Beans are like meat.”
My traveling companions paused. “Is there meat in the beans?” They asked.
“They’re fried,” replied the older waitress. Pause. “In lard” (you pretentious pieces of liberal trash).
The young waitress asked: “Do you still want your drinks?”
In Cheyenne, Wyoming we stopped for lunch at a place called the Village Inn. We had a sophisticated, world-traveling garçon to assist us. He took the vegan orders casually, no problem. I ordered a blue cheese burger and it devolved into a five minute conversation where he announced twice that he had just never heard of such a thing and wasn’t that the oddest combination?
I picked up the restaurant menu and showed him the listing for: “Sirloin burger, served with American or blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle.” He shook his head and wrote it down, appalled.
In Boise, we had dinner at a place called Willowcreek Grill and Java Hut (open every day until they close!). Each wall was painted in a different color in a tasteful and robust color scheme. The menu was fantabulous. I had the Jamaican chicken penne complete with mango mojo. For dessert, I asked the waitress to bring me whatever looked best in the kitchen. When the desserts arrived, we realized that not only did the Willowcreek Grill have a good paint job, they also had a pastry chef on staff. And the bill was totally reasonable.
Of note! They had the best blue cheese dressing I’d ever tasted. It was obviously home made. I asked if they sold their dressings and the waitress informed me sadly that they did not. I asked to see the chef. I told him that I was on a cross-country adventure and I wanted to bring something really special back for my husband. This dressing was it. I was willing to buy a cooler and baby it all the way back to Michigan. Could he sell me one bottle? He told me to wait a moment and he went back to the kitchen.
When he returned he said he couldn’t find an appropriate container but he gave me an envelope. “This is a gift certificate,” he said, putting it on the table. I thought that was very kind. As we were leaving town the next day I figured I’d leave it as a tip for the hotel maid.
I opened the envelope: