Hah – totally WAY, dude.
Lise and I went for our first taste last night – here’s our review!
Our first visit to the End of the Line Cafe, a 100% Vegan restaurant in Pensacola, FL.
What did they find? What did they eat? How does it end??
Well, click play and find out.
Stick around – it gets rather silly at the 4:00 mark…
after the post about the greatest camp picture ever, i’ve gotten several hundred hits on that one story. it’s spurred numerous conversations about games designed to make kids puke at youth group and most discussions include note-taking on good ideas for future gross games.
but i’ll never forget the last time i played a gross food game during youth group.
travis and i had been out earlier that week having lunch together when we realized we’d never been to the huge asian supermarket over by sharonville. after a tasty meal, we hit the store and were blown away by gross possibilities presented in the form of snacks and prepared foods comprised of creatures we thought to be inedible.
the most intriguing of these items?
highly pleased with my find, that week at youth group i set out to find someone willing to give this sea-creature nastiness a try.
teenagers are easy and most can be bought for a very low price. in this case, cherry cordial offered to eat the jellyfish in exchange for a CD of some sort.
80 high schoolers gathered around to watch me tear the package open, take a whiff (whew! NASTY!), dump it into a bowl and offer him the spice packet (he declined, and wisely so, i think).
and we all held our collective breath as he took the first bite and chewed. and chewed. and chewed.
now, one rule of youth ministry “games” is that they must be quick. 80 kids who DON’T get to play MUST be entertained SOMEHOW. either all the jellyfish needed to be eaten, he needed to puke, or he needed to spit it out, and refuse to eat another bite. if one of these things doesn’t happen early, the chewing chewing chewing gets… old. boring. unentertaining.
and he chewed. and his face was scrunched and it was obviously nasty tasting. but he kept trying, and interest started to wane.
i began to pick on him and made my first mistake of the night: “c’mon, cordial! how bad could that stuff actually be? get going, fool!”
and he chewed, still on the first bite.
and i went over, teased him a bit more and then made my second mistake: i took one strand of the jellyfish and made a production out of putting it into my mouth.
and i chewed. and chewed. and wanted to puke. and quickly spit the salty, rubbery, foul-tasting treat out to much laughter and gagging noises from the crowd.
i handed cherry the CD, apologized to him for the jellyfish, and never played another gross food game during youth group again.
conversation with my dad at a vietnamese restaurant this past saturday:
*sign on counter: No Longer Accepting Checks*
Dad: That’ll disappoint Lech Walensa.
Me: The dude who coached Nadia Comaneci? He’s Romanian.
while ordering treats for the dog today online
i almost ordered a bag of beef pizzle
but then i thought:
ow! ouch!! gaaah!!!
when we lived in the D.C. / Baltimore / Annapolis area we frequently asked others for suggestions on the local fare, hidden restaurants, hole-in-the-wall joints – places that you only get to know because you’ve lived in the area your whole life, right?
over dinner with friends one evening, we’re asked if we’ve ever had ann’s footlongs in glen burnie. we replied that we’d seen the place before but had not stopped to eat. oh my goodness, the litany that followed this was stunning: greatest hot dogs in the world, been there 50 years, we used to go there after school every day, they’re like hot dogs from God, when you go you HAVE to get the “double-dog” because those are the best, oh, remember that time when we went there, blah blah blah, 100% beef dogs that, if you get them done correctly, have chili, onions, mustard on them as well, and if you’re going to do it, you have to do it all the way, etc. etc.
well, it just so happened that i worked not a mile away from the mighty ann’s footlongs! oh, goodie!!
a plan of attack was devised and a week after this exchange i left school at lunchtime to grab an ann’s double-dog footlong.
i walk into the place and could tell it was a genuine greasy-spoon, hole-in-the-wall, been here forever kinda place. old-timers hanging around, folks behind the counter who look like they’ve been there since the eisenhower administration, grease that looks like IT’S been around since ike, too, old-timey seats and a standing-room-only lunch crowd waiting.
and the first red flag? instead of cooking their dogs on the griddle, they tossed them into this humongous pit of bubbling grease. i stood in awe (and disgust) at the sheer amount of grease and the huge number of dogs percolating therein.
i step up and boldly demand a double dog with chili, hold the onions. into the festering grease fly two more dogs.
red flag number two? they pull the dogs out, put them on a huge bun, slather chili on top, put the results in two sheets of aluminum foil, wrap several napkins around it, and put it into a paper bag. this wasn’t the red flag, though – the red flag came less than a minute later when, walking out to the car, the napkins and paper bag have soaked through with grease. and soaked through my clothes. and was about to soak through my seats in the car.
why, oh mercy, why didn’t i stop right then?
i ate the ann’s double-dog. it was a mess. it was a greasy delicious mess. it slid down my throat and began a toxic chemical reaction unparalleled in the anals (sic) of history.
it. was. disgusting. worst hot dog ever. period.
anyone with an iron gut would love it. otherwise, find another hole-in-the-wall place to eat (like the honey bee restaurant on rt. 2).
edit: one of the best hot dogs ever? chicks drive-inn in west haven, CT – mark took us there one of the times we went up with him. there’s something about open-air dogs on the beach with good friends.Â
doing camp as a youth minister was almost always a hugely fun thing. a week of craziness, fun, fellowship, music, teaching, games, sloppy olympics, teams, competitions, points, one-upping, late nights, and fun relationships.
lise and i did senior high camp at west river in maryland every summer for 5 or 6 years. as camps go, this place was awesome. our fellow leaders were great. the camp leadership was great. the kids who showed up every summer were great. and we always had competitions. kids were broken into teams and points were given in an archaic manner for all sorts of things: winning games, singing songs, random acts of kindness, answering questions, being creative, bringing blow pops for the camp director, asking nicely, etc. the amount of points given were generally arbitrary making the system of awarding them all the more difficult to comprehend.
but at the end of the week, a trophy was given to the team with the most points, so to say there was fierce competition for them is an understatement.
but vomit – no, the first vomit – that was like, the holy grail of points.
we always said that if someone didn’t puke at camp, we weren’t doing our jobs very well.
the year was 2002. it was the third day of camp and we had yet to have any confirmed reports of hurling. tensions were running high as we put our heads together to come up with some gross sort of game that would surely produce the puke we so desired.
but it all proved unnecessary.
as the camp pastor and photographer, i was a popular guy. kids always want their pics taken, right? this particular morning, one young man, whose name is long forgotten, came up to me and said, “scott – you need to stay close by! i’m going to puke for you and i want you to get it on film!” “how are you planning on doing this?” i asked. “i’m drinking a dozen pints of white milk in about 15 minutes. that’s SURE to make me hurl good!” and who was i to argue? every camp-goer knows the rule about humans being unable to drink a gallon of milk in such a short amount of time without the body going into upheaval.
15 minutes later, this kid is looking green. the milk is having its effect and he’s about ready to blow. literally.
he jumps out of his seat, runs out of the dining hall in the middle of games and announcements, positions himself outside at a ninety degree angle, hands on knees, and checks to make sure i’m ready.
and as he puked his guts out, i snapped what must be the greatest camp picture of all time.
it was picture perfect: the solid stream, the intertwining tendrils, the light splatter and eventual pooling of regurgitated milk – of the hundreds of photos i’ve shot in the many years of senior high camp, i kid you not: this is the transcendent picture. pulitzer-worthy? you decide.
he got TONS of points for this, as well he should’ve. that level of dedication to pukedom and senior high camp is rarely found in today’s youth.
white church potlucks are predictable affairs – lasagna, waldorf salad, baked beans, some kind of spaghetti cassarole, sandwich rollups bought at sam’s club, desserts bought at the local grocery store. it’s always good, but it’s rarely about the food and more about the company.
but when you hear that your local black baptist church is having a meal after morning service? oh, honey, you better be there! home-made fried chicken, hog maws, butter beans, cornbread, homemade macaroni and cheese, some kind of barbeque, home-cooked pies, cookies – oh, well, this is what i remember.
but my personal favorite dish at these meals was collard greens. the mouth waters at the thought.
my pastor, chris, thought he was The Man when it came to greens. and his greens were good, no doubt, but they just… well, they didn’t hit it. he’d make a bushel of greens each time, but i always hoped that one of the ladies would make theirs and bring it, too – there was something… missing from chris’ greens. he and i argued about this mystery ingredient, but having never made greens myself, i couldn’t put my finger on what it was.
about a year after being at New Creation, chris and i went to our semi-regular lunch at Millie’s over in madisonville. now look: if you want to have soul food done right, and you can’t make it to the church lunch? Millie’s is THE place.
so there we are, sitting in millie’s and i’m begging millie’s sister for a double helping of her greens (my FAVORITE greens of all time), when The Discussion about what’s lacking in chris’ greens comes up.
“my greens are better than this!”
“no, they ain’t – this is The Greens, man! you need to ask her how she does this so you can finally make a GOOD mess of greens some sunday morning!”
“psh, i soak those things 24 hours and add all these spices and cook them to a loving perfection…”
“dude, your greens are good but…”
“you need to stop talkin’ trash about my greens!”
“if you knew how to make ‘em right, i’d have less to talk about and more to eat!”
millie’s sister comes back out and i drag her into the argument. chris relents and they begin to share recipes. chris lists his ingredients and his methods for cleaning and soaking and preparing. she nods with approval every step of the way, until…
“how much lard do you put in them?”
“LARD? i don’t put ANY lard in my greens!” he replied.
“oh, honey, i see what the problem is now. i put two pounds of lard in for each bushel of greens.”
chris and i share a “look” – his look is one of astonishment. my look is one of epiphany.
chris never did make a great mess of greens even after hearing this. but i know now that the trick to good collard greens?
rendered hog fat. lots of it. and save some room for the collards!
i’m in cincinnati for a couple days hanging out with family, celebrating birthdays, driving to toledo to get lise, and having a good time in the cooler weather.
saturday was a birthday party over at my aunt diane’s house – my cousin chris and her astute, five-year-old offspring camden came in from south bend. cam and i had some interesting conversations about coinslots, cute girls, and tattoos. while creating artistically stunning designs using rubber stamps, cam and i gave each other some gnarly tats of our own.
i gave cam a snoopy tat, thinking that snoopy’s free-wheeling, fun disposition matched his and would make a definite statement to the world about what he’s all about.Â i dropped, popped, and locked that sucker right on his face and we were both quite pleased with the result.
cam chose a flower tattoo for me. i can only imagine that he was thinking that my budding optimism, my flowery opinion of the human condition, my blooming love for all God’s creatures, the spring in my step, the buzz of creativity flying through my mind – i must match that flower and by golly i’m gonna wear it proudly!
the rest of the afternoon was spent showing off our sweet tats, having mini-food fights, teaching each other new tricks and phrases, and taking pictures. when we parted, cam and i agreed to never have laser surgery done to remove our gifts to each other, and would always proudly display them to all we encountered! it was a heartwarming, uplifting show of love and admiration for each other and the bond we had formed.
my hopes and dreams were dashed the following morning. my assumption that we had used permanent ink shows my naivete – my tat was last seen circling the drain in the shower. the memories are fading. my pride, collapsed.
cam – it’s time to come visit pensacola.