Transatlantic cravings

Although I try to eat healthily and am exercising a great deal more than I used to, I do have a fondness for a number of ‘heart attack on a plate’ dishes – most of which I have discovered whilst on business trips to the States. Business travel is far from glamourous and, more often than not, decent meals with new colleagues or old friends will be more than outnumbered by the lonely meals, comprised of crappy food, eaten in glum hotel restaurants. A basket meal thrown at me by the surly bartender in the sports bar in the Dulles Hilton was especially dire, as I recall. However, I have also enjoyed some excellent nights with friends and colleagues and these will have invariably been in the sort of chain restaurant I’d never frequent back home. The popularity of elasticated pants and stretch sportswear as the No.1 casual clothing choice in America is almost entirely due to some the chain restaurant dishes I have come to love and cherish. There’s Chili’s Awesome Blossom, which is basically an enormous onion which has been sliced, battered then fried and served with an artery-clogging sauce – sublime. A visit to a Virginia franchise of Don Pablo’s, a chain that actually sells a deep fried ice cream dessert (yes, really) introduced me to the gargantuan delights of the ‘combination platter’, which is the answer for those who are spoilt for choice when reviewing the menu. The Conquistador combination platter banishes all worry of choosing the wrong dish by serving up pretty much all of them on one outsized salver. $10.49 got me and a Vietnamese friends more beef taquitos, chicken flautas, skinny enchiladas, beef burritos, crispy beef tacos and soft chicken fajita tacos than we could finish. Limey seafood lovers like me wince when getting the bill for a meal in the UK because of the price of quality fresh fish – so walking into Joe’s Crab Shack is like finding Nemo and Nirvana all in one place. A few years back, I almost ate myself to death in the Joe’s Crab Shack in Buckhead, Atlanta. Along with Bert, a redoubtable Dutchman and Papa, a crazy Senagalese, I basically tried to eat plates of each of the five crabs available followed by each dish on the grilled and broiled seafood menu – all laced with lashings of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Urged on by a very attractive waitress (who, I was convinced, loved me as much as I loved her until she said she was moving to Hollywood to become a scriptwriter), we ploughed through the approximate equivalent of Seaworld on a plate. No amount of light beer, or the antacids we picked up at the drugstore on the way back to the hotel, could put out the flames that raged in our bellies. However, the current objects of my culinary desire are buffalo wings, whether Frank & Teressa’s proclaimed and much fabled wimgs served up the Anchor Bar in Buffalo or those 3 Mile Island hotties stacked high at every Hooter’s. Unless anyone knows different, one of the London outposts of the US based Texas Lone Star chain appears to be my best bet for getting a fix of good ol’ Stateside grub in large portions. As for me, I’m grabbing a taste-alike recipe from one of the many sites providing such things so I can rustle up a batch at home anytime the cravings call. Those with similar cravings for US foodstuffs should check out this handy list of UK importers. In this way, you too can get the same authentic taste, the same authentic waistline, the same authentic infarc and the same authentic early funeral that surely awaits me if I keep succumbing to this cravings.

Leave a Reply