Last night, in the middle of the night, as my wife lay sleeping, I left our marital bed and silently padded down the stairs to the kitchen.
The reason for this early morning sojourn was a nightmare that I had. No, I was not dreaming of Covid 19 although when my wife had coughed a few hours earlier it had scared the shit out of me. (She is fine. Something went down the wrong way.) No Donald Trump did not invade my dreamscape. And no it was not a replay of the night Aaron Fucking Boone ruined my evening with a home run.
My dream was that I was at McDonalds. I had waited in a social distancing line and order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, an order of fries and a chocolate milk shake. What made this dream so frightening to me is that I never go to McDonalds. Don’t really like their food as it sits in my stomach like a grease bomb whenever I, albeit irregularly, visit the golden arches.
I guess that I could blame my sister for this nightmare. After all, earlier in the day she had taunted me, via Facebook post, that Goldbelly would now deliver an 8 pack of Shake Shack’s fine burgers to your home. Her tease “I’d get this for you…. if you weren’t in Brazil….” Don’t get me wrong. My sister was not being mean. She genuinely would have sent me the 8 pack were I not in Brazil. And our family often uses teases to express deep and undying affection for each other.
No, the reason I blame my sister is that it sent me into a spiral of thinking about American Food. Specifically, about the American Food I miss.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not food deprived. I have been eating very well here!!!!Perhaps even a little too well. But even after 8 years of visiting this country the food is very different. Farofa is not something that most people in the US have ever heard of. (Farofa is a toasted cassava or corn flour mixture and adds a rich sandy flavor to any meal in Brazil.) Feijoada, which is almost as much fun to spell, as it is to eat is a rich black bean stew that is traditionally served on Saturday’s so that you can have Sunday to recover. Then of course is the famous Brazilian Churrasco or BBQ where waiters circle the restaurant with roasted meats, Cupim ( the hump on a cows back that also means termite) sausages, chicken hearts, and the like which is currently unavailable to us because it doesn’t deliver well.
Even when, as an indulgence to me, Elaine agrees to order American style food, it is not the same. Pizza here, I am very sad to report, is just not that good. The crust is universally not crusty, the sauce not plentiful enough. and the toppings do not resemble American toppings. It goes well beyond Calabrese sausage being substituted for pepperoni or Italian sausage. One restaurant advertises a “frango Catupiry” pizza or a chicken with cream cheese pizza which is a sin (in my opinion) against the gods of pizza.
I guess we could order things like Burger King here but honestly, I cannot get used to the names of the sandwiches. Mega Stacker doesn’t seem as poetic as Whopper and while I know why you call something Rodeo instead of BBQ as it would be confused with Churasco but to this American it just sounds weird.
Ironically, the place that is most likely to send me American style food is Outback Steakhouse. That is right, a place that pretends to be Aussie is the place where I am most likely to get food that tastes like home. From there I can order wings which, although they call them Kookabura, look like finger licken, spice loving, blue cheese endorsed American version. Or ribs with American Style BBQ and Burgers with Australian names (Ned Kelly) but styled in an American Kitchen. They even have, wait for it, Ranch Dressing.
Here is the problem. Every time we have tried to order from those Mofo’s they have been closed.
Which brings me back to why my sisters post had so disturbed me that I had to have dreams of golden arches and special sauces with sesame buns. I am deprived. Deprived of the sustenance on which I was raised. Pizza with good crusts and normal toppings. Italian food that has gravy like Nonna used to make. Wings that are so spicy that your lips numb, and your only solace is blue cheese dressing. Not to mention Pastami, Lox, Bagels, and NJ Sloppy Joes.
Which brings me back to why I padded downstairs. While for most nightmares, like Covid 19 and other things that go bump in the night, where there are no cures, I thought I might have a cure for this one.
You see despite the paucity of American style food here, Ben and Jerry’s delivers. I knew that a little Fudge Brownie would go along way to restoring my equilibrium and allowing me to sleep.
And it did.