8th Aug 2012
Breakfast (lunch and dinner) in America (well it was a Super Tramp)
All of the following are true – or are they? Not really related to any particular place, just the USA in general.
One day in Tahoe, we took ourselves into the centre of Tahoe ‘City’ and parked the car and had ourselves a nice picnic lunch – without alcohol, of course, because that’s prohibited in a public place. After a walk along the lake shore, we returned to the car to head back home.
Home was to the north, the car was facing south. So, like any sensible English driver, when the road was clear, I pulled across into a nice gap in the northbound traffic. The queue started moving and we’d got about 40 yards up the road when I heard a voice through the open window. Not understanding a word, I looked round to see the equivalent of a British Plastic Plod on a bike.
“Excuse me?” I said. “Cost ya $300 for a U-turn in a business district,” came the reply. “Oh, I didn’t know”. “That’s why ahh’m tellin’ ya”. “OK, thanks”, was all I could muster in retort as he pedalled away. Bless him.
This guy was one of a trio – presumably for the same reason as policemen in the old Soviet Union used to go around in threes: one could read, one could write, and there was one from the KGB to keep an eye on the two intellectuals…
Apparently what you have to do is drive straight ahead until you can turn left into someone’s parking lot, drive through that and come out the other side headed the way you need to go. Or drive to the next ‘intersection’ and ‘make’ a U-Turn (unless it’s prohibited at that junction). I can see that working in London…
So The Land of the Free brings you, amongst other things, a large display of firearms in your local Walmart store (yup, we saw it in Reno), penalties for having wine with your picnic, and a possible charge of $300 for turning your car round. Mmmm.
I discovered a packet of “Baked Whole Grain Wheat Crackers” in one of our temporary kitchens. On the pack it said, “Plant a seed, Grow a Movement”. I’ve no idea what it meant, but it sounded like a very high fibre diet…
Following up on a review I placed on TripAdvisor about one of the hotels we stayed at, I found a comment by another amateur reviewer which amused us two:
“The pool is ok but need some attention. We had our dog so it worked for us.”
Does this mean that Fido fixed the pool? Most hotels aren’t keen on people taking their dogs anywhere near the swimming pool…
Food shopping in the USA. Aside from the size of the packs of stuff here, the tag-line, “100% Natural” appears on many packs here. This confused me until I saw a sign at one of the up-market shops that read: “Organic, $13.99; 100% Natural, $6.99”. I therefore inferred that “Organic” means it’s natural and “100% Natural” means it isn’t.
It’s almost impossible to find a manufactured product that doesn’t include corn syrup of some kind. Probably the worst is jam – they do this muck called grape jelly which is made from water, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, natural (!) flavor, colors and grape juice.
We’ve also realised that the word ‘natural’ appears on food products almost as much as the words ‘corn’ and ‘syrup’. Everything’s either ‘100% natural’ of ‘naturally produced’ or ‘naturally low in fat’, etc, etc, etc.
There are some good things about food in the USA though. For example, the beer. Not that coloured water called Budweiser, but the stuff that originated in microbreweries. Much of it is still ‘local’, but some of it is now being produced is such quantities that you can find good beers on most supermarket shelves across the continent. My personal favourite (to paraphrase just about every waiter or waitress), is IPA and, if possible, Double IPA. More hops than Bug’s Bunny.
Safeway sells ‘all butter’ croissants which are absolutely superb! Better than most that we’ve had in France. How does that work, I ask myself? And, to set the balance straight on the jam front, it has to be said that, with a bit of serious effort, it’s possible to find jams and preserves as good as any in the world.
You can also find very good cheeses. Many of the larger stores sell French cheeses, but some of the stuff produced in the USA is excellent. Two examples we’ve found are an ‘Amish Blue’, which could teach the Danes a thing or two, and a Vermont produced ‘sharp’ Cheddar that’s so strong it makes your teeth itch.
Along the way, we came across a publication called, “The Reagan Ranch 2012 Calendar, Sound Principles for a Strong America” (www.yaf.org). This appealed to my cocked eye for many reasons.
On the front cover is a photo of the great man himself, pictured standing firm behind the sign for the place where he was put out to pasture, Rancho Del Cielo. Not until November do we learn that it was hand-carved and is preserved at the Ranch for future generations to see, appreciate and lovingly kiss. The sign that is, not Ronald.
Coincidentally, Rancho del Cielo is not far from Santa Ynez, where we stayed in June. And, in turn, that’s not far from where Michael Jackson, another great man who was also in full command of his faculties, had a place.
Every month features a different loved up photo of Ronnie, and in March, he appears to be listening intently to a horse that he’s leading around the paddock. It was probably one of his senior policy advisors. I wonder if there’s a TV show for horses called, “The President Whisperer”?
In May, he’s pictured wearing his beloved Rancho del Cielo Cavalry Commander’s cap. Underneath this one, the caption reads: “Ronald Reagan loved horses ever since his days in the US Cavalry.” He supposedly said, “There’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” That’s taking love of horses a bit too far, isn’t it?
July’s photo of Our Ron shows him asleep on a hammock, holding several blank sheets of paper. The caption reads: “Throughout his lifetime, Ronald Reagan constantly read, studied, and wrote innumerable speeches, opinion pieces, and letters.” For some reason, they forgot to mention his impeccable grasp of foreign affairs, his wonderful oration and his priceless off-the-cuff remarks.
The August pin-up shows Ronald seated at an outdoor table with a pen poised over one of two huge stacks of paper in front of him. He’s wearing the cheery smile of someone who’s had just a couple more glasses of sherry than they can handle, and you can almost hear him saying, “Sign it! Hey, of course I’ll sign it. What is it anyway?” Or possibly, “Y’know, I think I’m getting the hang of this writing business now. Does that look like my name?”
September shows Ron wielding a (stationary) chainsaw that seems to be jammed halfway through a small tree trunk, with the words “Ronald Reagan loved the hard physical labour his ranch required. During his time in office, doctors stated that he had the body of a man 30 years younger.” No one found the body and he was never charged with any offence. Apparently the search for that body, and Ronnie’s brain, continues to this day.
Now, I’m sure some of you will be saying, “It’s easy to be a cynic and take the piss.” That’s just not true. It takes a lot of practice. And anyway, I’ve learnt that, just because something’s easy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do it.
When I told her Ladyship that Americans call dachshund a Wiener because it looks like a Vienna Sausage, she gave me a look and said she felt like we were playing that radio game, “Truth or Bollocks”. So, dear readers, are the above true or…