Stranger in a strange land

Wonderful trip, gorgeous landscape, and generally friendly people. But man, it is rather sad to be a vegetarian in Kansas City. We were welcomed warmly, but we’re coming home a little low on protein…

When we went out to dinner, the waitstaff were very polite when they told me that, no, they didn’t have a meatless burger option and yes, the chili has meat (this ain’t the West where they put beans in chili, either—this is straight up chili the way God intended…meat and spices) , and sure they can make the salad without turkey and ham, but who would want that, and yes the sauces were all dairy, why wouldn’t they be, and yes the soups all used beef stock or chicken stock, how else do you make soup? (The Japanese restaurant acros the way didn’t have tofu or edamame, so it wasn’t just our choice of restaurant; it was a whole different planet.) So I had my really tasty plain garden salad with a side of sauerkraut (jarred, but good) and grilled onions (burnt, but yummy), and Peanut had a side of cheese (which he announced loudly was “pretend cheese” because all they had was American cheese [and btw, is that the best face we have to put forward as  Americans? Really?  And the cholesterol-lovers insanity that is an “American breakfast”? Can’t we claim something a little tastier and healthier as our food ambassador? American wild rice or something? San Francisco has been battling the Rice a Roni bit for years (since the SF treat is artisan chocolate and sourdough), and the French aren’t exactly pleased with the fries and toast thing (pan perdue isn’t really from France, and pomme frites aren’t native, either), so I guess we can suck it up and claim processed oil as our signature cheese. But you can’t make me  eat it.]

As expected, at the  markets, there was no hummus section or organic foods. Saw that coming 1,000 miles away. We came prepared with whole food bars and almonds and dried fruit. But I was surprised that there was no plain yogurt or at least yogurt without gelatin, and no dairy or egg products  produced without hormones or antibiotics and fed a vegetarian diet.

There was great popcorn and plenty of bread. And rolls. And crackers, if we were willing to waver from our self-imposed ban on hydrogenated oils (which we did, because principles are fine and good when you have choices, but of course I’m gonna eat the jello-whipped-cream-pistachio-pineapple-marshmallow goodness because gelatin may come from cows but it doesn’t have a face and I can pretend for one weekend that I didn’t know it was in there). I ate potatoes but Peanut won’t, so he had a ton of cake. And his first chocolate milk. And as many Odwalla smoothies as we could cram in our hotel fridge. (Hey, Iowa and Missouri: really nice work, there, on offering the hotel fridge and microwave standard. Made life much easier. Thank you. You totally rock compared with the nickel and diming coastal hotels that have a fridge stocked with stuff that they charge you to *move* let alone eat or drink, and no microwave at any cost.)

So when we get home we’re going to have hummus and tofu and plain organic yogurt and organic produce and beans and rice until we’re green at the gills. But for now we’re really happy to have seen family. It was an easy, fun trip, and we were lucky to have it.

[And to keep having it, now that we’re waiting at the Kansas City airport for weather in SF to clear before they’ll board us…looks like lunch may be more bread and crackers.]

11 thoughts on “Stranger in a strange land

  1. Pingback: Daily News About Chili : A few links about Chili - Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:29

  2. Ok, now correct me if I’m wrong. But I was so sure that Iowa is farm land. So if they have farms, why aren’t there organic farms? And why are they so afraid of vegetables? And aren’t they close to Wisconsin, because there are cows and dairy farms there, so where’s the good cheese? I’m just so confused.

  3. Thanks for making me appreciate my local food co-op down the street, and the hummus in my fridge and all the vegetarian restaurants around here! Reminds me of a weekend we spent in Maine a few years ago where the only vegetarian option at EVERY restaurant we went to was penne. With tomato sauce. Very original.

  4. @faemom that’s what I thought. I thought locally produced wonderful stuff in season. Don’t care what it iis, as long as your neighbors grew it without spraying and fertilizing it to within an inch of being a frankenberry. But nope—stuff trucked in from thousands of miles away. Maybe we looked in the wrong places.

  5. Eggs are produced by chickens. Chickens aren’t fed hormones or antiobiotics–a common mistake by many. Chickens are fed corn and soybean meal and vitamins. In the grocery stores in KC you can buy eggs that are only fed vegetables if you want. KC isn’t that bad. There is a Wild Oats store, a Whole Foods store,etc,etc.

    • I’m glad you spoke up, Janelle and Dean! I just couldn’t find any of that. When I asked at the hotel and the rental counter, I was pointed to Wal-mart. By both. I’ll do recon before I go next time.
      And you’re right about the eggs not having hormones, Dean. But often chickens are fed beef that has been fed antibiotics and hormones, and I don’t want them third-hand any more than I want them second-hand.

  6. Yes, you looked in the wrong places. Kansas City IS known for its beef, but we have organic markets and fresh produce galore. And we also have wonderful cheeses made right here. My family has celiac, we can’t have gluten, and we frequent a couple terrific bakeries that are totally gluten free. I don’t have a problem supplying my family with a healthy diet, but it did take living here for a while before I found my way around.

  7. Am I the only one who noticed that your blog post before this entry ended with the sentence “I hope to heaven the hill of beans can begin now…”? And then, see… that’s funny ’cause, it was like a hill of meat that then began instead and you know, beans are something you and Peanut can eat ’cause they’re vegan-safe but meat is not; neither is eggs. So, like, a hill of beans would have given you enough protein when you were in a place that didn’t have nothing vegan-safe to eat. And a hill of meat, while it may sound delicious to normal people, would probably only make you think about blogging about it and then people wouldn’t believe you because it sounds too magical. OK bye.

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