Monday, March 24, 2008

Oh the Irony: Best Restaurant Burger Yet!

Good Burgers are hard to find, even in California, where our culinary exploits are the stuff of legend. Lobster Tacos? Yep. Subtle, distinctive wines? Yep. Blending the ingredients and traditions of our diverse cultures to create something both familiar and wholly new? Yep.

Burgers...a slab of meat on a tasteless bun? Yep. Even in the area I hail from, where you can easily pay $10 for a "diner" burger with bacon, avocado, swiss cheese, and fancy mustard (fries and drink extra), they all taste the same. No one does anything special to the meat. No spices, no treatment, just a slab of meat. Sure, the bacon and avocado help a little, but usually they are cheap and tasteless.

Well, last week we were looking for a quick, cheap place to get a summery meal and some googling turned up favorable reviews for a place called Fat Mo's. Hmmm, we thought, where have we heard that name before? Turns out, we drive by one every day. As you can see from the picture, not much too look at. It isn't even a drive through, it's a drive-by. There isn't much outside to pull you in and places like this just don't exist in California.

Flo called in the order, and I was the wheelman. Pulling up, I must say I was nervous. Not too clean outside, no one in line or in the parking lot, no clear menu or prices posted until you get up to the order window. I was skeptical and I had no idea what I would find in my bag.

It turns out what I would find in the bag is the best damn prepared meal I've ever had for less than $20. For a whopping $11.54 American Dollars we got two burgers, two sides of fries and chicken nuggets. Feeding the family at a fast food joint costs more than this, and the burgers were great. Better than anything I ever had the illustrious Firestone Grill back in San Luis Obispo.

In-n-Out Notwithstanding

Please note, I am excluding In-n-Out Burger from this discussion because they are "Quick Food." That is, somewhere between restaurant food and fast food. In-n-Out rules, but it isn't a restaurant burger.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vocab: Bless your heart!

Polite society survived in the American South much longer than it did in the rest of America, and this saying, Bless Your Heart, is an idiom that survives from that time. You hear it quite a bit here. I have been trying to come up with an equivalent that I have heard in California and have been unable to do so. We tend to come right out and say what we're thinking.

As you may have guessed, it doesn't actually mean "Bless your heart." It is used most often regarding children. Just as an adult might tell a child struggling with a puzzle that he or she is doing well, you would later hear that adult say something like "The puzzle only had 4 pieces but bless his heart, he couldn't figure it out." In this context, it's innocuous.

However, you will also hear it used of adults. In this context it is one of the most condescending things I have ever heard. Just as with children, it is used of someone who is struggling to understand a concept or complete a task that they are unable to. It is also often used of Yankees who are mystified at the culture of the South. Maybe something like:

Yankee: What exactly is a meat and three?
Native Southerner: Bless your heart, we'll just have to go!
Yankee: Right.

And the California Equivalent:

Not-Californian: What exactly is California Fusion?
Native Californian: What do you mean 'What is California Fusion'? It think it's pretty clear from the name.
Not-Californian: Right.

Vocab: Yankee

You are probably a Yankee. I know you don't think of yourself that way, but trust me, you are one.

If you aren't from the South, then you are a Yankee. Sure, it usually refers to someone from New England (The North), but if you're from California, or Colorado, or anywhere else, you're just as good. The word gets bandied about less frequently than the concept, but you still hear it.

Clearly, it stems from the Civil War; the defeat of the Confederacy is still bitter on the tongues of Native Southerners. Many view everyone else as a Yankee and in some small way, part of that humiliation, even if they happen to be from California.

Reflecting on this, I realized that I do the same thing. Mentally, I still separate America into California and Not-California, so clearly I have no ground to criticize regional elitism. However, my geographical prejudice only goes so far as to create the groups, I don't have any names for Not-Californians. I need your help, gentle readers, to come up with a term for those folks. We're Californians, what is everyone else?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Who's Your Daddy? Seriously.

This is another in what looks to be a continuing series, or at least theme, of bizarre laws.

This law, SB3717, is still in the State House introduces mandatory genetic testing of all newborns and alleged Fathers before a Father can be listed on the birth certificate. Yes, I live in a state where this is being considered.

You don't have to think very long to come up with the points being argued by both sides. And, sadly, you don't have to think very long to figure out who it is targeted at, and why.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Open Letter to TN Pedestrians

Dear Tennessee Pedestrians,

What the hell are you thinking?

Darting out across undivided four lane streets to cross? I'm really sick of it. I'm sick of that, and I'm sick of you standing in the middle of the turn lane waiting for traffic to clear so you can dart the rest of the way across. It's pretty apropos that this lane is commonly called the Suicide Lane because that's clearly what you're after.

I know you're not in hurry cause no one is in a hurry in this state. And why do you ALWAYS have a plastic grocery bag when you do this? Even when you're nowhere near a grocery store?

I am told that Tennessee traffic law does not contain a Pedestrian Right of Way clause, which pretty much seals the deal on this practice being The Dumbest Way of Getting from Point A to Point B That Does Not Involve a Cannon.

California has a Pedestrian Right of Way clause, and we still bother to use the crosswalk most of the time. Yes we're smug about it, yes, we just walk into a crosswalk like we own it, and yes, we get bitchy of someone stops quickly, but at least we use the paint.


Perturbed in Nashville


My promised trip to a "Meat and Three" did not materialize so we'll all have to wait and see what it is.