Saturday, 31 May 2014

I'm a Lucky Man ...

Breakfast in Mesquite, Texas
Without doubt, I am a lucky man. Each year I get to spend a month exploring the USA, and have done for the last 5 years. I'm lucky enough to be my own boss, and run the sort of company that can managed (for a while at least) with just a laptop and an internet connection.

What makes these journeys even more special is that they both start and end in Texas, as my daughter is now hooked on the American summer camp experience. My sweet, urbane 11 year old gets to catch and eat catfish, zoom on a zip wire, go on hikes, tear across lakes on a jet ski and entertain her friends with words like 'trousers' and 'pavement'.

Oh and shoot rifles. This is Texas.

Bellagio's Buffer, Las Vegas
She also gets to push sloppy joes around a plate, poke tater tots and pick at tacos. Now this may be daily dinners for a typical Texan, but it's exotic and unusual food for her - and this is a girl who eats gnocchi and gyoza, who loves korma and kedgeree and can name eight different types of pasta.

You see, we thought we knew all about American food. I've been eating burgers since my teenage days - hell, I even worked in McDonalds. I know what a deep-pan pizza is. I've dunked donuts. I've popped tarts. Yet America seemed to be full of strange and exotic foods that hadn't crossed the atlantic, with such evocative names. Mac-cheese and grits, hush-puppies and twinkies, po'boys and PBJs.

A free gift in my hotel room!
Even when I thought I was on safe ground, things could go very strange. I asked for a burger and chips - so why have I got it with crisps? No, I really don't want gravy with my biscuits. And why is the gravy white? and what's the scone doing there? And why are you serving me this with my Kentucky Fried Chicken?

At this moment, I realise America is much more foreign than I ever realised. I want to explore and know more. Especially when I realised it's illegal in Texas to charge for chips and salsa. I love Texas.

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