Road Trip Eating

One of the fun things about a road trip is the food. While we are not averse to grabbing a cup of coffee or a coke at MacDonald’s on driving days for the sake of convenience, we are trying to mix up our culinary experiences. This means trying to hit some of the local favorites wherever we are. Here are some of the highlights so far….

In Austin, the order of the day, of course was barbecue, at Blacks BBQ. As I mentioned in a previous post, perhaps the best brisket I’ve ever eaten.

Believe it or not, one of my brother-in-law’s favorite eateries is Waffle House.  They are ubiquitous in the South, but he often laments that the closest one to The Cities is in Kansas City! On our drive from Austin to New Orleans, we stopped in for a pecan waffle! He was one happy camper!

A great resource we use in trying to decide where to eat is the website Roadfood.com. Hosted by Jane and Michael Stern, authors of the book Roadfood, 10th Edition: An Eater’s Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America, it has information on their favorite local eateries in every state. The book and/or access to the site is a must-have for any American road trip.

After consulting the site for off-beat places to eat in New Orleans, last night we settled on a place called Rocky and Carlo’s a non-descript little place across the street from an oil refinery.

It’s claim to fame, as noted on a local website, is “fabulously oversized portions of Sicilian dishes and New Orleans classics including veal parmesean and the most popular item on the menu, baked macaroni & cheese, served with brown or red gravy.”

In this case “red gravy” is marinara sauce!

I have never in my life seen such a large portion of food for a single order. That’s THREE pieces of veal parmesan, which in our case fed three people!

My brother-in-law and niece, who have a more adventurous culinary spirit, opted for shrimp and oyster Po’ Boys respectively.

After touring a plantation house in St. Rose on Thursday, we stopped in at the Port Side Restaurant and Bar. Some in our party had deep fried soft-shell crabs; others had meat loaf!

And then there is breakfast. Forget cereal and toast! We are in New Orleans, which means beignets, those deep-fried squares of yummy goodness!

The first morning, thanks to a tip from Roadfood.com, we hit up the Morning Call Cafe in the New Orleans City Park. Oh my!

The second morning we went to the famous Cafe DuMonde, on the edge of the French Quarter. It did not disappoint!

On Friday, we roll out of town for Panama City Beach, Fl.

And I mean roll!

Oh, and today, my sister gets to choose where we eat because it is her birthday!

National World War II Museum

One of the main purposes of this year’s road trip was to give my 90-year old mom the chance to visit the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, something that she has long wanted to do. We had heard that the museum was amazing, and our 8.5 hours there today did not disappoint!


We saw every exhibit and watched almost every movie. While the rest of the family experienced it as history, for Gracie it was a chance to re-live memories:

Hearing the voice of Adolf Hitler on the radio;

Listening to Roosevelt’s speech to Congress;

The fear of a Japanese attack on Portland, OR, where she lived;

Her sister being in charge of the ration board in Bend, OR at the ripe age of 18;

A cousin piloting a landing craft on D-Day;

And of her brother, a Marine, fighting on Guadalcanal.

If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, it is a must see. Be sure to plan to spend an entire day to see everything. And if you aren’t in New Orleans, it’s worth making a special trip here to see it.

In thinking about books about WW2 to recommend, it was difficult because I have read so many. But in the end two stand out — these classic works by Herman Wouk:

The Winds of War

The Winds of War

War and Remembrance

War and Remembrance

It’s been years since I read them, but after today I’m tempted to go back and read them again.

What WW2 books do YOU recommend?

 

All the Tea in Austin

Our main reason for going to Austin on this trip was to visit my niece, who has fled the Minnesota winter for warmer climes. When not working at her day job teaching ESL, she and her boyfriend spend all their time on a business they started called Lost Pines Yaupon Tea.

Yaupon tea

Made from the Yaupon tree, a member of the holly family, it is the only caffinated plant/tea native to the U.S.

Here’s how the tea is described on their site:

Yaupon (YO-pawn) is naturally caffeinated. It’s also rich in the related stimulant theobromine (from Greek “food of the gods”), the pleasure molecule familiar to lovers of dark chocolate. While yaupon contains less caffeine than coffee or tea, it contains more theobromine. This more balanced ratio gives yaupon its focused, jitter-free buzz.

Here’s what the Austin Chronicle has to say about them and their tea:

Former coffee drinkers Jason Ellis, Heidi Wachter, and John Seibold launched Lost Pines Yaupon Tea earlier this year. Ellis had been experimenting with and enjoying the naturally sweet beverage for several years, but it wasn’t until the other partners tasted it for themselves that the group realized they were on to something. North America’s only caffeinated plant, yaupon (pronounced YO-pawn) is a cousin to South America’s guayusa and yerba maté. Known as “black drink” to Native Americans, yaupon tea was brewed strong and consumed on a daily basis for centuries. But with the end of the Civil War, and lifting of naval blockades, imported Chinese teas and coffee resumed their status as the beverages of choice.

If you’re in the Austin area, you can find them at local farmers markets on the weekends. You can also purchase the tea online from their website.

It’s delicious!

Related Posts:

Stealing Tea and Saving Face

Sipping Tea from a Magazine

Tea and Games

Cultural Revolution Tea

Image credit: Lost Pines Yaupon Tea

 

Lady Bird and Lyndon

Today was “Johnson Day” on our visit to Austin, Texas. As in President Lyndon Johnson (LBJ), and his wife Lady Bird Johnson. This city was their home base and launching pad for his political career so their lives and legacies loom large.

In the morning we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a gorgeous arboretum on the edge of the city. Being that it’s November, there weren’t a lot of flowers in bloom; however we enjoyed the 80+ degree weather (it’s in the 30’s back in Minnesota!).

In the afternoon we headed over to the University of Texas campus to visit the LBJ Presidential Library. It’s an excellent museum, and was a good reminder of fading memories from my childhood.

If you find yourself in Austin someday, I’d recommend both sites.

And of course we topped it off with a wonderful Texas-style dinner at Blacks Barbecue. Best brisket I’ve ever had!

Image credit: Janet Wachter

Road Trip | Interstate 35

After three “shorter” road trips this year (Oregon in April, Kansas in July, and Montana in August), we’re finally getting around to our annual epic road trip. Being that it is November, we decided to make a swing south, with stops in Austin, New Orleans, Panama City Beach, and Memphis, visiting relatives and taking in some of the sights.

The first leg of our journey was a 2-day drive on Interstate 35 (I-35). We got on the freeway in Roseville, MN, and got off 1200 miles later in Austin. Just one highway (except for a detour to avoid a crash in a construction zone between Waco and Austin).

I-35 cuts through the heart of the country, from Duluth, MN to the Mexican border in Laredo , TX, traversing 6 states along the way. (Note: most descriptions of the highway have it starting in Laredo and going north; I, obviously, think it’s the other way around.)

Along the way we stopped to have lunch with my cousins at a BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House in Dallas and in Waco to visit Magnolia Markets.  If you are a fan of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”, then you’ll know why we stood in line for 20 minutes to buy cupcakes!

While there is, to be honest, a certain monotany in driving 1200 miles along one highway, it is an interesting way to watch and experience the variations in geography, climate, and language as you make your way south. We left behind corn fields being harvested in Minnesota for the “home on the range” terrain of central Texas, with a few cotton fields thrown in for fun. Bare trees in Minnesota slowly gave way to ones that were still colorful to the still-fully green trees of Austin.

And somewhere along the way the accent of American English shifted from the nasal whine of “Minnesotan” to “southern.” Based on my numerous trips up and down the interstate I would say that  the shift begins to take place at about the Iowa-Missouri border. What I’d love to do sometime is stop at every truck stop along the way and ask a clerk to read a short sentence to see if I can plot the shifting of the vowels as I move south. Another time.

I-35 is an important part of life in the Twin Cities with 35W going through Minneapolis, and 35E going through St. Paul, so it’s easy to forget that it is not “our highway.” This also means that it is strange to go to other cities that give pride of place to the highway. I find myself wanting to say, “hey, that’s OUR highway, not YOURS.”

But maybe that’s the point; it doesn’t belong to Minnesota, or Texas, or any of the other states along the way. It’s Middle America’s Main Street!

If you’re into American road trips, or just find yourself traveling on freeways and wonder how they got built, then you might enjoy this book: The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

Image credit: KSAT.com

95 Theses in Chinese

In honor of Reformation Day, here is the list of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in Chinese (simplified). It is taken from the Baidu Baike, the Chinese version of Google/Wikipedia all rolled into one.

路德关于赎罪票效能的辩论(九十五条)
为爱护与阐扬真理起见,下列命题将在文学和神学硕士及常任讲师路德马丁神甫主持之下,在威登堡举行讨论。凡不能到会和我们口头辩论的,请以通讯方式参加。奉主耶稣基督的圣名。阿门
( 1 )当我们的主耶稣基督说『你们应当悔改』的时候,他是说信徒一生应当悔改。
( 2 )这句话不是指着告解礼,即神甫所执行的认罪和补罪说的。
( 3 )这句话不是仅仅指内心的悔改而言,因为内心的悔改若不产生肉体外表各种的刻苦,便是虚空的。
( 4 )所以罪恶的惩罚是与自恨同长久,因为这才是真正内心的悔改,而一直继续到我们进入天国。
( 5 )教皇除凭自己的权柄或凭教条所科的惩罚以外,既无意也无权免除任何惩罚。
( 6 )教皇不能赦免任何罪债,而只能宣布并肯定罪债已经得了上帝的赦免。那留下归他审判的,他当然可以赦免。他若越过此雷池,罪债便仍然存在。
( 7 )上帝赦免人的罪债,未有不使那人在他的代表神甫面前凡事自卑的。
( 8 )惩罚教条仅是加于活人身上,对临死者不应有所惩罚。
( 9 )所以圣灵借着教皇用宽仁对待我们,使他在教会中总将死亡和必要定为例外。
(10)神甫将教条,所定补赎给临死者留到炼狱,乃是无知邪恶的。
(11)将教条所定的惩罚变为炼狱中的惩罚,很显然是仇敌在主教们睡觉的时候所撒的一种稗子。
(12)从前实施教条,所定的惩罚,并不是在宣赦之后,而是在宣赦之前,作为真正痛悔的考验。
(13)临死者因死亡就免除了一切惩罚,他们向教条的法规是已经死了,不再受它们的约束。
(14)临死者心灵的健康若不完全,那即是说,他的爱心若不完全,他便必大有恐惧,而且爱心越小,恐惧就越大。
(15)单是这恐惧(且不说其它一切)就足以成为炼狱的惩罚,因其与绝望的恐惧相距不远。
(16)地狱,炼狱,和天堂之间的区别,似乎是与绝望,将绝望,和确信之间的区别相同的。
(17)灵魂在炼狱里恐惧越减少,爱心便越增加,这似乎是确实的。
(18)我们由理智或圣经似乎都无法证明,这种灵魂不能建立功德,或增加他们的爱心。
(19)虽然我们对他们的福祉也许很有把握,但是似乎也无法证明他们自己都有这种把握。
(20)因此教皇所谓全部免除一切惩罚,意思并不是指免除一切惩罚,而只是指免除他自己所科处的惩罚。
(21)所以那些宣讲赎罪票者,说教皇的赎罪票能使人免除各种惩罚,而且得救,乃是犯了错误。
(22)因对他对炼狱里的灵魂,并不能免除那按照教条应当在今生受的惩罚。
(23)如果有甚么人以得免除一切惩罚,那么只有最完全的人,即最少数的人,才能得以免除一切惩罚。
(24)所以大多数的人,难免是被这不分皂白和夸张的、免除惩罚的应许所欺骗。
(25)对于炼狱,教皇在全教会有多少权柄,主教和神甫在他们的主教区和教区也有多少权柄。
(26)若是教皇不用钥匙权(他没有此权)而用代求,来免除炼狱中灵魂的罪,他便行得好。
(27)那些说钱币一叮当落入钱筒,灵魂就超脱炼狱的人,是在传人的捏造。
(28)很显然,当钱币投入钱柜中“叮当”作响的时候,增加的只是利心和贪欲心,至于代祷是否有效,完全只能以上帝的意志为转移。
(29)从圣瑟威立努(St. Severinus)和圣巴斯噶(St. Paschal)的传奇来看,炼狱里的灵魂是否都愿被赎出来,是没有人知道的。
(30)无人能确知自己的痛悔是诚实的;更无人能确知自己得了完全的赦免。
(31)诚实买赎罪票的人,是与诚实忏悔的人一样很希罕。
(32)那些因持有赎罪票而自信得了救的人,将和他们的师傅永远一同被定罪。
(33)那些说教皇的赎罪票,是上帝使人与自己和好的无价恩赐的人,是我们应当特别警防的。
(34)因为赎罪票的恩赐,只及于人在告解圣礼中所加的惩罚。
(35)那些说为求获得救赎或赎罪票并不需要痛悔的人,是在传与基督教不符的道理。
(36)每一个基督教徒,只要感觉到自己真诚悔罪,也同样可以得到赦罪或全部免罚。
(37)任何活着或死了的真基督徒,即令没有赎罪票,也都分享基督和教会的一切恩惠,这些恩惠是上帝所赐的。
(38)然而教皇的赦免是不可蔑视的,因为正如我所说的,它宣布上帝的赦免。
(39)最有学问的神学家也很难一面宣讲赎罪票的好处,又一面宣讲真心痛悔的必要。
(40)真实的痛悔寻找并爱慕补赎;滥发赎罪票,却使人疏忽并厌恶补赎,或至少使人有这种倾向。
(41)教皇的赎罪票宜小心加以宣讲,免得人们误解,以为它们比其它爱的行为更为可取。
(42)基督徒须知,教皇并无意将购买赎罪票一事与慈善的行为相比。
(43)基督徒须知,赒济穷人,或贷款给缺乏的人,比购买赎罪票好得多。
(44)因为爱的行为使爱心增长,也使一个人变好些,但赎罪票不能使人变好些,仅能使人避免惩罚。
(45)基督徒须知,人若看见弟兄困苦,不予援助,反用他的钱购买赎罪票,他所得的,并不是教皇的赦免,而是上帝的忿怒。
(46)基督徒须知,他们除非有很多的余款,就应该把钱留作家庭必需的开支,决不可浪费在购赎罪票上。
(47)基督徒须知,他们购买赎罪票,乃是出于自择,而不是出于命令。
(48)基督徒须知,教皇颁发赎罪票,渴望(因他更需要)他们为他的虔诚祈祷,甚于他们所带来的金钱。
(49)基督徒须知,他们若不信靠赎罪票,赎罪票便是有用的,但他们若因赎罪票而丧失了对上帝的敬畏心,赎罪票便是最有害的。
(50)基督徒须知,教皇若知道那些宣讲赎罪票者的榨取,他是宁愿让圣彼得堂化为灰烬,而不愿用他羊群的皮,肉,和骨去从事建筑的。
(51)基督徒须知,教皇宁愿(照他的责任)把他自己的钱赐给许多被骗购买赎罪票的穷人,即令把圣彼得堂拍卖,也在所不惜。
(52)靠赎罪票得救,乃是虚空的,即令教皇的代表,甚或教皇本身,用灵魂来作担保,也是如此。
(53)那些为求宣讲赎罪票而叫其它教堂不得宣讲上帝道之人,乃是基督和教皇的敌人。
(54)在同一次讲道中,若讲赎罪票比讲上帝的道花相等或更长的时间,便是亏负了上帝的道。
(55)教皇的意思必然是:如果为庆祝颁发赎罪票这件最小的事,要鸣一个钟,举行简单的游行和仪式,那么为宣讲福音这件最大的事,就应鸣一百个钟,举行一百个游行和仪式。
(56)教皇颁发赎罪票所凭借的教会宝藏,在基督的子民中间,既未充分加指定,也未被认识。
(57)显然至少它们不是世上的宝藏,因为这许多赎罪票贩子不会散发而只会积攒世上的宝藏。
(58)它们也不是基督和圣徒的功德,因为这种功德,虽没有教皇相助,也使人内心得恩典,并将肉体钉在十字架上,使它死灭。
(59)圣劳伦斯(St. Lawrence)说,教会的穷人便是教会的宝藏,但他如此说,乃是用当时的说法。
(60)我们很可以说,那由基督的功德所赐给教会的钥匙,便是那宝藏。
(61)因为显然要免除惩罚和那留给教皇审问的案件,只要有教皇的权柄便够。
(62)教会真宝藏乃是上帝荣耀和恩典的神圣福音。
(63)但这宝藏自然是最令人恨恶的,因为它使在前的成为在后的。
(64)反之,赎罪票的宝藏自然是最讨人喜欢的,因为它使在后的成为在前的。
(65)所以福音的宝藏是他们从前用以获得富人的网。
(66)赎罪票的宝藏是他们现在用以获得人的财富的网。
(67)赎罪票,照宣讲者所说的,是最大的恩典;其实所谓『最大』,不过是指它们为最大的牟利工具。
(68)实则它们若与上帝的恩典和人对十字架的虔敬相比,就微不足道了。
(69)主教和神甫必须礼恭必敬地接纳教皇赎罪票的代理人。
(70)但是他们更必须运用耳目,好叫代理人不至于宣讲自己的幻梦,而不宣讲教皇的使命。
(71)若有人否认教皇赎罪票的效力,他应该受咒诅。
(72)但那反对赎罪票贩子的胡乱宣讲的人,乃是有福的。
(73)教皇对那些用图谋破坏赎罪票交易的人加以威胁,乃是适当的。
(74)但他对那些藉赎罪票为口实图谋破坏神圣之爱和真理的人,更要加以威胁。
(75)把教皇的赎罪票看得这么有效,甚至认为它们能赦免一个(假定那不可能的事)玷辱了圣母的人,这简直是疯狂的看法。
(76)反之,我们认为教皇的赎罪票,对最小之罪的罪债也不能除去。
(77)若说,纵使圣彼得现在是教皇,他也不能赐人更大的恩惠,这便是诽谤了圣彼得和教皇。
(78)反之,我们说,现在的教皇或任何教皇都有更大的恩惠,即福音,德行,和医病的恩赐等等,如哥林多前书十二章所写的。
(79)说那,饰以教皇徽号的十字架,是与基督的十字架同样有效,这是亵渎
(80)那容许这种说法在民间传播的主教,神甫,和神学家,是必得向上帝交帐的。
(81)这种对赎罪劵的荒谬宣传,使得那些纵有学问的人,对于大家对教皇的尊敬,也确实感到困难;对于俗人的怀疑和非难更难以回答。
(82)他们要问:教皇若为得钱以建立一个教堂的小理由而救赎无数的灵魂,他何不为神圣的爱和灵魂的痛苦的大理由而使炼狱空虚呢?
(83)既然为得赎者祈祷是错误的,那么为甚么还继续给死者举行安灵弥撒呢?教皇又为甚么不退还或准许收回为他们所设立的基金呢?
(84)他们为得钱的缘故,就让一个不虔敬并作他们的仇敌的人,把一个作上帝之友的虔敬灵魂从炼狱里买出来,却不为纯洁之爱的缘故,因鉴于那虔敬和可爱的灵魂本身的所受痛苦而将他赎出来,这是上帝和教皇所定甚么样的虔敬呢?
(85)惩罚教条既因久不用而失效,人为何还要用钱买赎罪票来免除这种教条所定的惩罚,彷佛这种教条还是十足有效呢?
(86)教皇的财富今日远超过最富有者的财富,他为建筑一个圣彼得堂,为何不用自己的钱,而要用贫穷信徒的钱呢?
(87)教皇对那些因完全痛悔而有权得全赦的人,有甚么可赦免的呢?
(88)如果教皇把现在每天只作一次的作一百次,即把这些赦免和特赦颁给每个信徒,那么教会所得的福岂有比这更大的呢?
(89)如果教皇现在颁发赎罪票,是为拯救灵魂,而不是为得钱,那么以前所颁发的赎罪票既是同样有效,他为甚么把它们搁置呢?
(90)对平信徒的这些论点和疑问仅用教皇权来压服,而不用理智来解答,乃是使教会和教皇受敌人耻笑,并使基督徒不愉快。
(91)所以赎罪票若是按照教皇的意旨和精神宣讲的,那么这一切疑问便都要迎刃而解,而且根本就不会发生。
(92)因此那些向基督徒说:『平安,平安』,实则没有平安的先知滚开去罢!
(93)那些向基督徒说:『十字架,十字架』,而自己不背十字架的先知,永别了!
(94)基督徒应当听劝,努力跟从他们的领袖基督,经历痛苦,死亡,和地狱。
(95)所以他们进入天堂,要靠经历许多艰难,而不靠人平安的保证。

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

There’s More Than One Way to “Go Green”

In February of 2001, the International Olympic Committee made their final inspection visit to Beijing to see if the city would be up to hosting the 2008 Olympics. In preparation for that visit, the city got a major “spruce-up.” Office and apartment buildings that had been a dull gray since their construction decades before were painted bright colors. Well, three sides of the buildings were painted — only the ones that face the highways that the Committee members would travel on. Every surface of the city was scrubbed clean.

My personal favorite was the grass. During a stroll through Tiananmen Square I noticed that the newly installed grass was green. “Green grass in February?” I was puzzled. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the entire “lawn” had been spray-painted green.

I thought of that today when I read this post in the The Beijinger about the city’s current effort to “greenify” in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress that will be held next month. All the power boxes are being covered with fake vines:

As the British say, “BRILLIANT!”

Related Posts:

Where the Grass is Greener

A Grassy Knoll

Photo: The Beijinger

Friday Photo: Old Sedan Church

During a short trip to Montana last week, we took a drive into the beautiful Shields Valley, north of the town of Livingston. Along Highway 86, about 5 miles west of the town of Wilsall we spotted this old (but nicely restored) church.

Old Sedan Church

According to this site, the congregation was founded in 1898, but this structure dates to 1910.

The door was not open, but we were able to look inside and see nicely restored pews and lectern.