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Food Blogging: Real World/Road Rules Edition
2008-07-03 20:36
by Scott Long

I enjoyed Will's latest piece, voyeuristicly (doubtful that it's a word, but it should be) savoring the meals that he recently enjoyed. We all make choices in life and considering that I am not living in a dink household, excursions to NYC to enjoy the cuisine are not in the cards. (Disposable diapers win out over disposable income) Here is my food diary/diarrhea over the past week.

Wednesday- I have never been in a place which has more strip malls and fast food chains than Springfield, MO. Besides being the home of Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri State, a basketball school where Charlie Spoonhour and Steve Alford had some tourney success) and the hometown of Brad Pitt, I can't say much for the place. It does, though, have my favorite convenience store chain in the country, QuikTrip. I know it is strange to laud a quickie mart, but they are the best. Great selection of beverages and high quality versions of microwavable sandwiches. Why this chain hasn't taken over the country, I have no idea, as only the unfortunately named Sheetz convenience stores come close to competing with them.

Thursday- Being on the road so much, I struggle to eat many vegetables. My budget doesn't allow for me to go to restaurants that much, so once a week, I visit a buffet for lunch, load up there and then just eat some trail mix for dinner. My friend, Dan Cummins, has a very funny new bit about never leaving a buffet feeling like he made a good decision. It makes a lot of sense, but today in Fort Smith, Arkansas, I ate at the best buffet I've ever visited outside of Las Vegas. Called Furrs, the country-style fixins were great, especially the country fried steak, green beans, and millionaire pie. It also is a great place to go if you are feeling a little negative about your body appearance, as the place was filled with some of the most obese people I've ever seen. Fortunately, I didn't see one of them wearing flip-flops, so I was able to read my magazine and enjoy my gorging. (Not surprisingly, I was the only person in there that was reading, which reminds me of the classic Bill Hicks bit where a waitress asks him what he's doing---he replies that he's reading---which she offers up what ya doin' that furr? Maybe that is where the name of this restaurant comes from.)

Friday- Driving through St. Louis today. It is weird to me that Jack in the Box isn't anywhere in the midwest except for the greater St. Louis area. It just doesn't seem like a very efficient way to run your company, but then, I am more stumped on why Sonic constantly has ads on ESPN, even though they don't have a real presence in most parts of the country. Jack in the Box has the strangest menu of any major fast-food chain. The variety is kind of cool, though I do think their quality control suffers because of it. I like the Ultimate bacon cheeseburger. It's 1100 calories of deliciousness.
NOTE: There is one other strange happening in St. Louis fast-food. It's a roast beef chain called Lion's Choice. Is there enough people who want roast beef sandwiches that a place besides Arby's is needed? Even Arby's knows their roast beef sandwich isn't enough to keep business thriving, so they have created a diverse menu which has as many quality items as any in the fast-food marketplace. (Salads, market-fresh sandwiches, etc.) Time to pack it up, Lions Choice and the same goes for the few Rax stragglers.

Saturday- I'm back home. I really love to cook, but it ain't happening much currently, as quick and easy are the 2 main factors. Over the past 5 years, no food on the market has gained in quality more than the frozen pizza. Truthfully, a DiGiornio or Freschetta is often as good as your national chain delivery pizza and at half the price. The best frozen pizza I've had is a Chicago-based chain named Home Run Inn, which sells mainly in midwest grocery stores. Of course, eating a fresh one is the best option, but if you don't live in the Chicago area, it's the best frozen pizza I've ever had. Add some extra pepperoni and cheese and it stomps anything Dominos can send you.

Sunday- I have no idea how so many restaurants are able to thrive, considering how much money it costs to eat out. Pretty much every meal we don't get from the store is a carry-out one, where we can guzzle our drinks at home and not have to worry about leaving 20% at the end. (Tip your servers!) Recently I discovered a white-trash treat at the Wal-Mart deli. Wing dings. Very crunchy and meaty chicken wings, the wing dings are the best deal in the wing market. I have my share of problems with Wal-Mart and shop there very little, but I will stop in for a wing ding fix a couple times a month. Yes, I'm aware that my diet is pretty shitty, but during my annual physical I hear from my doctor that my numbers come back like I do a lot of cardio. I can't explain it. It must be the 10 minute isometric workout I do every other day that keeps me in reasonably good shape. I also credit a lifetime (at least it seems that way) of habitual masturbation. Now there's an informercial that could inspire on late-night television.

Monday- I believe starches and sugar are the biggest reason people are fat, so I try to stay away from bread (except for an occasional pizza) and sugary snacks. To keep my carb level at a decent range, I try to stay away from fruit. I don't mind it, but when you live in the Midwest, outside of apples, it is pretty hit or miss on if the fruit will be very tasty. If I am going to splurge on carbs, I devour a cupcake or 3. When you are on an Atkins-like diet, eating a cupcake gives you a rush which is hard to beat. I know they are marketed to 10 year-olds for their b-day, but I suggest going with the Moist Supreme Funfetti cake mix. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and it has the perfect blend of moist texture and vanilla flavoring a cupcake can have. Never use the whipped frosting, as the creamy is more dense and works much better with the cake. I'm funny, sexy, love sports and music, and make a bitchin' cupcake. Hey guys, too bad I'm not a lady, huh?
The last sentence was stricken, as it is the most uncomfortable line ever written at this site. Some might see the retraction as having a homophobic slant to it. There might be some merit to that, but my response is that a heterosexual man should not describe himself in the same sentence as being sexy and able to make a bitchin' cupcake.

So there was a little insight of my eating habits. I have a real passion for cable travel/cooking shows, but I watch them mainly like I do documentaries about Everest. I enjoy the fantasy of them, but I don't see myself scaling the terrain to experience them in person. I have a hard time spending a small fortune on a meal. Growing up with a Mom who treated Hamburger Helper as a major culinary treat, it just isn't something I'm comfortable with doing. Hopefully, some day I will be flush enough that I can escape my inner cheap-ass. Until then, I will savor my wing dings and funfetti like it is something that Mario Batali whipped up.



2008-07-04 00:44:02
1.   Eric Enders
It's a real word. It's not spelled like that, but yeah, it's a word.

Scott, I take it that you're not a fan of the Counting Crows song "I Wish I Was a Girl." Or at least are made suitably uncomfortable by it.

2008-07-04 07:15:02
2.   Scott Long
No, I like it, just don't think I should push the notion on my readers. Next piece? If I Was Your Girlfriend.

Spell check was not helping me, but it did seem appropriate.

2008-07-04 19:44:42
3.   jgpyke
HRI is the best frozen pizza, bar none. In fact, it's better than 99% of all restaurant pizza here in the South. Luckily, I am in their distribution zone. I would sooner eat--and happily, I might add--HRI than I would Papa John's, Hut, Domino's, etc. (I actually refuse to spend money at any of these joints: it ain't happening). Same goes for non-chains down here. They all suck.
2008-07-05 12:33:01
4.   chris in illinois
HRI Pizza is great, I've got two in my freezer right now. I have been to some decent restaurants in my life, but usually on someone else's dime...I'm not a cheapskate, I'm just fortunate to have a wife with a travel/education budget.

As much as I love New Orleans and it's food (and Coop's in the Quarter), I'm very rarely any happier as when I have some Chik-fil-a in front of me.

Luckily I have some decent pizza joints within ten miles from here as well---sorry, jgpyke!!

2008-07-05 20:29:54
5.   jgpyke
I've heard good pizza exists as far south as St. Louis. And there's are a few spots here and there, like Tortuga's in B-ham, which is owned by former employees of Edwardo's (of Chicago fame). But as a rule, pizza sucks down here in the South.
2008-07-08 17:51:37
6.   El Lay Dave
Late to this one, and likely this will be never be seen, but having made the drive from the 'burbs of St. Louis to Memphis back in May, I'll vouch for the awesomeness that is QuikTrip, which we just happened by chance to stumble into. They need to expand immediately to be a major presence along I-5 from San Diego to San Francisco and I-15 from L.A. to Vegas.

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