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Travels with Stanley


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Travels with Stanley

Stanley Stephan | Sep 10, 2003 01:03 AM

Moving from SF to the San Diego area, I took a few food notes as I traveled up and down I-5, 101, and route 1 recently. Nothing earth shaking. Just some different things I noted as I moved from my area of familiarity.

There are two linked posts about a great apricot shake and the SLO BBQ.

My apologies to Steinbeck for ripping off the title of one of his books. While Steinbeck traveled with his dog Charlie, one of my trips involved transporting two black cats from SF to San Diego. They were troupers. Not happy, but troupers.

In San Juan Capistrano fruit trucks covered with colorful murals stop in neighborhoods selling produce, pan dulce, and various sundries. Bags of candies hang from the windows. They seem to be a congregating area where neighbors chat and children play.

In another town there was a surfboard and gourmet coffee shop. One shop selling both items.

Mom, apple pie and booze. I passed by Mother’s wine and beer shop.

One place was selling various colored tea lattes. It wasn’t bubble tea.

There are Mexican fast food drive thrus that are open 24 hours a day serving aqua fresca and menudo.

I saw a KFC that does home delivery in addition to an all you can eat special.

It’s HERE … A McDonalds was selling McVeggieburgers.

Marginally food related was the oil refinery in Long Beach with one of the biggest American flags I have ever seen draped over the front. Nearby was a sign for the Oil, Chemical Workers and Atomic Workers Union. Does that just scream USA … and if ANY workers need a union this group sounds like it. Hope their logo doesn’t have a picture of Homer Simpson. Ok, it is food related … if you use gas to get to the market be it by public or private transportation, you need these people.

I took a trip down I-5 in the spring when the fruit trees were in full and glorious blossom. It was interesting seeing the fulfillment of those blossoms in August. Most of the trees had already given their fruit and were in tree middle-age. Relieved of the burden of ripe peaches and apricots, the branches stretched out toward the sun.

The nut trees were about ready to harvest and the branches dragged on the ground. Trucks loaded with almonds, walnuts and pecans whizzed up and down I-5. There were also trucks filled with tomatoes, onions and garlic. Fresh produce stands could be found at I-5's infrequent exits.

It was an extremely hot day when I took the cats and the air conditioning broke. I’m fat and one of my cats is fat. The heat was getting to me and I felt sorry for the cat who was wearing a fur coat on top of it. I stopped for cups of ice to rub into the cat’s fur and cool her off. The cat was sopping wet and purring in ecstasy at being relieved from the suffocating heat.

I could not even imagine how it would be to be a farm worker laboring all day in that scorching heat bent over picking tomatoes and other vegetables. It doesn’t seem at all humane to have people do that type of work. It makes me think twice every time I buy some produce about the people who work those fields to supply our food to us.

Just think of all the complaining on the boards about the terrible food at some restaurant or the miserable canned tomato sauce or whatever. It’s sad to think that at the other end someone struggled in the backbreaking work to supply the food for what was a inferior end product.

Some of the farms label the crops so you know you are looking at, say, a pistachio grove. One grove of trees had a sign “Vitamin C Makers”. Oranges, I’m guessing. This same place has a sign reading “Indulge in what you hereby see”. In the spring I did indulge in the site of almost unending citrus blossoms.

Well, here's a link to the apricot shake find on I-5.


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