California Eats

I’m back with another food article!  Let’s rewind back in time to when I first got off the plane in San Diego. I’m tired.  I’m happy to see my family and all I want is a cup of coffee.  San Diego provided.  California is where I spent the first 13 years of my life, so it holds a place in my heart.  I’d like to write a different article about that, but let’s focus on some eats for now!


I grew up on Baja California fare, and I was very happy to have it again!  Baja food includes a lot of Mediterranean spices, fish, charbroiled chicken, shrimp, and fresh produce.  The best image I can dredge up is of a group of surfers on a beach. They’ve gathered together for a bonfire meal with a couple of beers.  That’s what Baja taste like.  When I got off the plane, this is the first thing I wanted(clearly my priorities are in order).



Look at all that deliciousness.  And tortilla chips are a vehicle for salsa, not the other way around.  Anyone who says otherwise has not consumed an entire jar of salsa and called it a meal.



All the salsa you could ever want!  I may have gone overboard.  There were also lime slices to go with your taco.  It’s pretty typical to squeeze lime juice onto your taco.


I realize I’m waxing poetic about these things, so either skip this or bear with me please.  The perfect fish taco consists of a corn tortilla. fried white fish, salsa, fatty white sauce, cabbage, and a squeeze of lime.  I’ve had fish tacos without the white sauce, and it is a sad day.

Okay, I promise never to speak of my love of fish tacos on this blog again.  I make no such promises for my real world conversations.  They will be mentioned!

Spirit River Cafe

On our way out of California, we stopped in Apple Valley to visit a family friend.  Apple Valley is a relatively quiet area in the High Desert.



Spurs on the salt and pepper shakers, in case your brunch date is being a bore.


‘Murica!  This is something I would never see in Korea.  You know you’re in the West when you find a rifle hanging above ruffled curtains.  How domestic.

Cultural tidbit:

Seriously though, the cowboy figure is deeply ingrained in the western part of the US.  I can’t speak for the East coast, but there are small reminders of the westward expansion, the gold rush, and the Wild West in the least expected places.

For instance, a large bank back home is Wells Fargo.  Their logo is a stagecoach, because they opened in 1852 as both a bank and an express service.  Think FedEx of the Wild West.

Random example,and it has nothing to do with food, but it gives you a better idea of what it’s like to live on the West coast.  These things permeate the atmosphere.



This place was also big on the Americana decor.  Comes as a surprise after living abroad for a year.  The Korean flag is displayed proudly in shops, but I’m more likely to stumble on a place with traditional Korean items than a display of flags.


I missed this so much!  Cheap diner coffee, where the waiter will refill your cup until you can no longer blink from all of the caffeine in your system.  Ah, diners!  I didn’t have a chance to visit one while I was home, but I love those greasy old diners.  The ones with 50 years of nicotine staining the walls and cheap 70’s kitsch on the walls are the best.  Preferably, the tables have not been changed since 1962.



Onto the food!  Our family friend had the fried potatoes and a sandwich.  These portion sizes are very typical of a diner.

My parents got the sausage, potatoes, and scrambled egg.  This is the most basic meal you will eat at an American diner.  The only thing that would make this more American is bacon replacing the sausage patties.

Huevos makes a repeat appearance.  Yes, I had this twice on my trip home.  Don’t judge, it’s delicious.  Corn tortillas, an egg, beans(preferably black beans), and salsa.   If you feel like having a dollop of sour cream on yours, be my guest.  I split it with my family, because the portions are way too big for me.

Another cultural tangent: Sharing is not common in the States, but my family has always shared.  We would order a large meal when I was a kid, and split it four ways.  The wait staff probably thought my family was very poor.  We just didn’t want to waste food!  I’m still very comfortable with sharing or eating leftovers, and very happy I was raised this way.

I’ll return with more random West coast adventures soon!


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