Meals are a source of conflict. No two, or more, people can agree on what to have.
All the usual excuses apply: “it’s too early to decide, I don’t know, what would you like, what do we have in the refrigerator, do you want to go out? Where? And…
We take our guidance from the past several presidents; the Executive Order; or, in my case, the default meal.
This means that I come up with a meal plan, which we will have unless someone comes up with a better plan, which I will accept. I am not obnoxious about my plan, nor is it set in concrete; it is just a simple way of getting on with things.
We are staying with my in-laws for two weeks and everyone is being nice.
Two nights ago I came up with a local restaurant that I am fond of. No problem. Everyone enjoyed it, and seemed happy not to have to make a decision.
Last night it was chicken wings, coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob with tiramisu for dessert. Again, no problem and everyone liked it.
Tonight, I announced hamburgers, bean and salad. And, of course, wine. No objections.
I may have pushed it far enough that someone else comes up with a default meal. I hope so.
This has simplified my life; used up aging food in the refrigerator and made everyone happier.
Old age should be about stress free simplicity. Default meals are a nice start.
Three years age I attended the Matanza in Belen, NM where I ate my fill of roasted whole hog, beans, chile, and tortillas. This year it is scheduled for January 26, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.
You can read about the 2020 Matanza in the Albuquerque Journal – January 26, 2020.
The 2021 Matanza has been cancelled according to the Albuquerque Journal – January 19, 2021. We will have to wait until next year for this event as well as for a lot of other interesting celebrations in New Mexico.
Matanzas involve roasting a whole pig overnight in a pit dug in the ground. It is a celebration for all your family and friends. It involves a lot of home-made food and too much drinking. The first one I attended was when I came to Albuquerque over 50 years ago and was held on Thanksgiving Day. Lou had obtained a 300 pound hog and the night before it was placed in a pit in his backyard, wrapped in wet burlap, and laid on top of a huge bed of coals. The hog was then covered with coals and dirt and left to roast for twelve hours.
It was hoisted out of the pit, unwrapped, and the meat fell off the bones. More beer, pinto beans, tortillas, salad and pork made the Thanksgiving Dinner one that I remember to this day.
The one in Belen is more organized, raising money for charity. It costs $15 and is preceded by judges determining who made the best red chile, pork, tortillas and chicharrones. There are long lines and no shortage of beer. It is best to come early.
You can read about the “World’s Largest Matanza” in the January 2018 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The article, “Whole Hog” by Gwyneth Doland is worth reading. The article also contains recipes if you want to create your own Matanza, and tells you where to buy a whole hog. Go for it.
The 2017 Belen Matanza was the first I attended.
For instructions see the Weekly Alibi
In August 2019 while visiting relatives in Philadelphia, we ate at Sky Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant that featured a rice table, known in Amsterdam as rijsttafel.
There are several Indonesian restaurants in Philadelphia; but, none in Albuquerque or Tucson. Sky Cafe is authentic, small, and except for us everyone appeared to be Indonesian. It was crowded at 6:00 and we had to sit in the hall for 20 minutes until a table was ready. Sky Cafe was down a hall in an ethnic shopping center. It was full of uncrated furniture. The sign on the door said Sky was expanding.
There is an extensive menu, but only one “rice table (rijsttafel)” for $17.
The liquor laws in Pennsylvania are BYOB (bring your own bottle) for restaurants, so we took two bottles of wine. Sky Cafe provides glasses and cork screws. There is no corkage fee.
This part of Philadelphia is out of our comfort zone, but it was not problem. An ethnic neighborhood, with a safe and local feel.
We used LYFT and when we left the restaurant, our Lyft showed up in minutes, but we did not recognize it because a cop had pulled him over for a broken tail light, which did not result in a ticket. When we got the message that “your car is here,” we discovered it was the car the cop had stopped in front of us. A story to tell.
The trip back was without incident. He told us he was about to attend the police academy in New Jersey to become a police officer. Most Lyft drivers have an interesting story to tell.
For more information on rice tables in Amsterdam search Rijsttafel on Wikipedia, which has a bunch of pictures and a list of items in a typical Rijsttafel.
Maybe you want to prepare your own rice table (Rijsttafel) with a cookbook from Amazon.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
Chez Colette’s, is a French Bistro in Belleair Bluffs, Florida, next to Indian Rocks Beach. It is small, about 24 seats, simple, with a delicious menu, French House Wines, and a pleasant atmosphere. On the menu are Beef Bourguignon: (Angus Beef slow cooked and reduced with Red Wine, Carrots, Onions, Bacon and Fresh Mushrooms) and Filet Mignon: ( with Red Wine Shallots Sauce or topped with Garlic, Butter, Parsley and Onions confit served with French Fries). In addition, there is fish, chicken and crepes along with a special, depending on what the chef found at the market that day.
I am waiting for the lamb shanks special, which I have had in years past.
Deserts are the usual plus:
Profiteroles, Chocolate Mousse and Crème Brulee
There is a nice wine list with French wines. Try the house red wine; reasonable, French and smooth.
You can share a plate; always a plus for us and we always share the desert. Closed on Sunday but open for lunch and dinner the rest of the week. Closed during part of September when the owners take vacation.
Parking in front. Quiet and seems to cater to our age group.
You are traveling; and, of course you have to eat. Mostly it is too expensive and probably not good for you; but, at your age who cares?
I am interested in places and ideas for eating well but frugally. This means getting the most for your money, having a new experience and maybe meeting new people. And, as always, you may have a story to tell. No one is interested if you ate at a chain; however, going to a church supper in a small NM town will give you a story to tell.
Share a plate. Old people eat less. Most places will let you do it, though some charge an extra $3 or so. Always split a desert.
I have tried the following:
1. Eat at Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store. You get good food in reasonable quantities and can eat it in the store or take it with you. You will also feel good since it is organic, humanly raised and free of additives. Your grandchildren will love it.
2. Try a university. Parking may be a problem; however, they usually have salad bars and other interesting menu items. Sometimes you can even get a beer or glass of wine.
3. Hospitals have gotten better, at least in their cafeterias. I can remember when it was all fried, but now they have salad bars and other items that reflect their “dedication” to health. Don’t stay too long as you might catch something; they are places to avoid except for a quick meal.
4. Frequently, you can visit an assisted living facility and in exchange for listening to the sales pitch, get a free meal. This would be my last resort in most cases, having seen some of the food.
5. Some chains have reasonably priced healthy food. If you see a Chipotle or a Subway, stop. Two of you can share a burrito or a 12 in. sub, for about $6 to $8.
6. Picnic. Stop at a store and buy what you need for a picnic. Remember that left-overs may be a problem.
7. Frequent bed and breakfasts. Have a big breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a nice dinner with a glass of wine.
8. Service clubs, if you are a member. Watch for signs giving the day and place as you enter a town; or, go on-line.
9. If you belong to a private club, golf club, health club, or tennis club, check them out for reciprocity. Usually they can arrange for you to be a guest and use the facilities in another town. There will probably be a small fee.
10. Church suppers are always interesting; especially in small rural towns.
11. Small town events can give you interesting food.Try the Ramp Festival in Cullowhee, NC; or the matanza in Belen, NM where you can eat outside your comfort zone.
12. Never forget museums; especially if you are in Europe. Some of the best food I have had has been at museums in Madrid, Vienna and London. The same applies to US museums. At least look at them.
Pick up small town papers. Visit your old home towns. Use the internet. Try something new. Check out small town chambers of commerce. Explore.
On Sundays from 9-3, May 4 – Nov. 2, you can visit the Rail Yards Market near downtown Albuquerque, NM. The site is next to the tracks and is in a huge old Santa Fe Railway repair shop. The market has over one hundred vendors and artists. It draws thousands of people. Outside there is plenty of free parking and a line of food trucks.
Inside, which is free, you find artists, bakeries, local produce, music and crowds. Turn down your hearing aid.
Rail buffs, and most other people, especially those of us who can remember riding the train to college, will be fascinated by the interior of the Santa Fe Railway Repair Shop, now abandoned, waiting a new life, and used as the setting for a number of movies.
To learn more about the rail yards visit the City of Albuquerque web page.
Maybe you are looking for a second career in your retirement. Central New Mexico Community College in conjunction with the Street Food Institute offers a course in “Street Food.” Maybe you should apply. Visit Craigs List to find food trucks for sale.
The bottom line is that for a few hours on Sunday morning, you can’t go wrong, and you will see a part of American History. Drive through the surrounding streets and see “new town,” which came into being with the arrival of the rail road over a hundred years ago. Then compare it to “Old Town.”
I feed hummingbirds a mixture of one cup of sugar to four cups of water. The sugar is pure white, cane sugar. It is cheap; and must provide a sugar high.
Hummingbirds are at the trough all day and empty two feeders every day. They also eat at natural plants around the yard, but not so much.
I wonder if eating all that pure sugar is good for them. Can they make the annual migration to South America? Do they get fat? Do they have health problems? Are there obese hummingbirds?
They are like people. They eat what is easy; not, what they have to work for. People are obese. Will we see fat hummingbirds.
Something to think about.
Does fast food affect hummingbirds adversely?
I won’t stop feeding them. Like the fast food industry, I profit from the hummingbirds outside my window. I like to watch them; and, of course I count them. I am contributing to what I believe are hummingbird health problems; just like the fast food industry, with its highly processed, sugar-filled food have contributed to our health and obesity problems.
Next time you feed a hummingbird, take a look in the mirror. Where is your feeder with its high sugar concentration? Are you preparing to fly to Tierra del Fuego for the winter?
Take a look at the Wikipedia article on hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are also carnivores eating insects for the protein in addition to various forms of sugar.
On February 6, 2019 while on a Viking Sun cruise, we visited the ship’s galley. The galley tour, like the bridge tour, is not advertised due to space limitations, so if you want to take the tour on any ship ask. You should also ask about any other tours that are not advertised.
The Viking Sun carries 930 passengers and a crew of about 450. This works out to 4140 meals prepared and served each day, plus 24 hour free room service and other food outlets open from early morning to late at night. Preparation of this food requires 106 chefs and a large number of support staff.
The several kitchens are spotless and computer controlled as far as food that has been ordered, cooked and delivered to one of the dining areas. The ship’s nurse checks the cooking staff’s hands each day for long or dirty finger nails.
Everything is made from scratch except for gluten bread. Viking Chefs make the gelato, all pastries and everything else from scratch. The pastry chefs start baking at 10:00 PM so that bread, bagels, muffins and other items are available in time for breakfast.
In addition at the World Cafe, line chefs cook eggs, pancakes and waffles to order in front of you.
In addition, they must have a massive wine room as house wine is free at lunch and dinner. In South America it was from countries that we were stopping at.
Escalators and dumb waiters speed the food from deck one to the restaurants on higher desks. Food goes up in a dumb waiter separate from the one that carries waste and dirty dishes down.
I am addicted to restaurants while travelling and since we spend a lot of time in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, I have three favorite restaurants, and a grocery store.
Crabby Bills: Every morning I walk a mile and a half down the beach to Crabby Bill’s, which has been family owned since its founding in 1983. The morning crowd consists of older patrons who are vacationing. or living, near the beach. It is a sports bar, restaurant and hang-out for the under 30 crowd the rest of the day and until 2:00 AM.
The All-American Breakfast is my choice, with 2 eggs, potatoes, crisp bacon and toast for $6. Then it is a mile and a half walk back to the rented condo. In the evening, you can get the menu to go.
Guppy’s: A short walk and excellent food with daily specials; indoors or out. Great fish. The Grouper is expensive as it is over-fished. Small plates and you can share. I get three sides; grilled octopus, spinach and Caesar Salad. Octopus is available thanks to the large Greek community. New Mexico restaurants tend not to serve octopus, so it is always a treat.
A small French restaurant in the edge of Belair and next to Largo and Indian Rocks Beach. Run by a French couple, it is always good and one of our favorite stopping places each time we come.
The desert is great, especially if you can try three at once. Eat desert first, life is short.
The lamb shanks can’t be beat. Not always available but when they are, well worth ordering.
If you want to do your own thing with food prepared for you, take a look at Publix Grocery Stores which now have prepared meals that you cook. There is salmon, meatballs, etc. We tried chicken breasts with feta cheese and spinach and it was great. Cheaper than a restaurant meal and it can be eaten with a glass of wine on your rented condo balcony. The sunset over the Gulf of Mexico is better than any restaurant; and quieter.
TWO (Traveling While Old) requires food. I don’t eat in fancy restaurants; and, I am cheap and dress “old.” McDonald’s is good for the “senior coffee” and the free Wi-Fi, but there are lots of other places that you might find more interesting than fast food hangouts.
Off-the-wall alternatives are available. Here are ten to consider. Use the internet to find times and locations.
1. Hospitals: Long hours, usually healthful food, but almost always a fried option. In Albuquerque try University of New Mexico Hospitals, cafeteria.
2. Universities: They have to feed students, faculty and staff and have a variety of food and long hours. The prices are reasonable and it is fun to see what you looked like fifty years ago. You can also find cheap movies, lectures and other activities. Parking is a pain, consider the bus; many have free shuttles to free parking. Certainly out of your comfort zone.
3. Museums: The US is catching up to Europe with museum cafes and restaurants. Visit exhibits and discover special events. When you search for the museum, check for cafes and menus. Plan a meal there; and, look for unique menus and specials tied to art. It may surprise you. And, frequently they have wine.
4. Cooking Schools: Every large town has a cooking school; attend, learn something and eat what you cook. I took my 14- year-old granddaughter to Paris and the thing she seemed to like best was the cooking school. She learned to make macaroons and received a box to take home to her parents. In Paris, sign up in advance.
5. Food Trucks: You can spot them parked on vacant lots, along the street, or at shopping centers. They are fancier than the usual hot dog carts found in downtown areas. Web pages list food trucks and give you a location and time. In Albuquerque on Wednesday noon they gather at the Talin Market, in the International Zone. The market is worth a visit just to see the variety of foods. Don’t be afraid. Move outside your comfort zone. Food trucks offer a variety of foods, often cooked by creative new chefs who can’t afford a fixed site.
7. Senior Centers: All towns have Senior Centers. You can usually find a cup of coffee, breakfast and lunch, although you may have to order lunch a day in advance. You can eat cheap food with other old people. There is usually a bulletin board that lists things to do; day trips, computer help, etc. You may have to join, but that is usually cheap. I have never had any problem just walking in and looking around; having a twenty cent cup of coffee and a twenty-five cent box of popcorn. I have also discovered cheap trips where I don’t have to do the driving. Think Crown Point rug auction.
Here is my $1.75 breakfast with a 25 cent cup of coffee eaten at my local Senior Center:
8. Whole Foods: Groceries, but also – sandwiches – salad bar – prepared foods and a place to sit and eat. The food is good, varied and available all day. Good for a coffee and a bagel in the morning; sandwiches for lunch, salad bar, and a whole variety of food for dinner, to eat in or take back to your motel room, along with a bottle of wine in Albuquerque and Tucson. At 73 you don’t want to be picked up for DWI after a few glasses of wine at a restaurant. Watching a movie in your hotel room with a good bottle of wine, and a variety of food from the deli is not all bad; besides they have nice deserts. Most motel rooms are quieter than restaurants.
9. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives: This show on the Food Network takes you to places all over the country. Interesting to visit, a mini-goal for your trip, and, you can always check them out on-line. I have enjoyed the ones that I have visited, both in Albuquerque and Florida.
10. Costco: If you have a card, you can’t beat the hot dog and drink for $1.50.
Look beyond the restaurants in the guide books. Experience the community and learn something new while getting interesting food at a fraction of the cost of a fancy restaurant. Besides, all of the above places are usually fairly quiet, have no music playing, and are convenient. Important if, like the geezer, you are old and deaf.
A final, tongue-in-cheek idea. Large Assisted Living facilities will usually give you a free meal if you listen to the sales pitch and take the tour. You should really take a look at a few of these as they are closer than you think.
Above all, consider sharing a plate; even if it costs you $3.