Monday, July 25, 2011

A Vegan Trapped in New Jersey

Last week, I went to the Jersey Shore. You may recognize it from its recurring role in television and pop culture. There was fist-bumping. There was high hair. There were people of Caucasian descent who had laid out on the beach so long that their forefathers were roasting in their respective graves.

As soon as I saw my first sorority girl in yoga pants with rhinestone angel wings on each cheek, I knew that if I wanted to find anything resembling a vegetable in New Jersey, I should take a fork to the astro-turf on the mini golf courses.


Many of you are probably familiar with South River Miso. If you aren't, you're missing out on one of the macro diet's great delights. It's incredible, flavorful, and creative miso with beautiful packaging and an amazing presence in food. It's the macro chef's secret weapon. It's also only available in most parts of the country October through April. Thankfully here in New England, we're able to get it directly in grocery stores year-round.

I thought I'd surprise my mom with a tub of the amazing Chickpea Miso, and satisfied that it was neither gel nor liquid nor firearm, I packed it in my shiny gold purse. When you've got a food allergy, flying is a nightmare. You can get trapped in airports for hours with no food, and the only thing you can hope to find is a $7 bowl of naked lettuce with no dressing, an apple, and some incredibly rancid nuts.

I got through the scanner when I saw the all too familiar congregating of security agents, whispering, pointing, and button-pushing. I remembered this from the Great Adzuki Bean Debacle of 2010, but this time I was ready. I had 11 months of retail and service industry rage built up, and I was ready to rumble. They were going to peel that miso from my cold, dead fingers.

Not to get all crazy conspiracy theory on y'all, but really, there's no recourse when it comes to things like "national security." I understand that there are terrorists out there, front line of defense and all that, but let's be real: a lot of this is just posturing to make people think these things are more effective than they are. Case and point: I had to talk to two heads of airport security to get my miso un-confiscated and fished out of the trash, and ten minutes later, a guy got all the way through airport security and boarded a plane with a taser gun.

I arrived in New Jersey and my mom and I headed to the grocery store where we stocked up on tons of macro veggies like bok choi, kale, collard greens, mushrooms, onions, and brown rice. We cooked most of our own food during the week, because the concept of olive oil is truly lost on this proud race. I was informed that my broiled fish at dinner had "nothin' on it 'cept butter."

The entire island served nothin' that didn't have butter. I went to breakfast and had fruit and a sunny side up egg... with butter. A steamed potato... with butter. I think because it was an island and they're constantly slathering their backs with sunscreen, it just feels wrong that food should be some kind of exemption.

After about two days, my stomach and intestines were expressing their discontent. I had all but given up hope, and had just completed my fourth round of mini golf when I saw it, sitting there on the boardwalk.

Pure Tacos.

It was situated between a funnel cake shack and a purveyor of hermit crabs. It was like a mirage. I thought I was hallucinating. The funnel cake shack had a banner that said, I kid you not, "NOW WITH GUMMY BEAR TOPPING." Because when I look at funnel cakes, the thorn in my eye, the gaping hole that gnaws at me, is the painful and pointed absence of gummy bears on top.

I saw it. "GLUTEN FREE." "VEGAN." "ORGANIC." I thought it was some kind of sick joke by the funnel cake man. I looked closer, and it was tucked away in a deep, zen red crevice. It was a burrito shop that had only organic and gluten-free taco ingredients. It was amazing. My mom and I were blathering idiots at the counter, stammering like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert about what a huge deal this was and how huge it was to meet eat them.

The food was pretty good. As you can expect, the place was totally deserted, while there were lines out the door at the curly fries joint and the home-fried donut shack. We were freaking out about napa cabbage while some little girl walking by was eating a green sno-cone that looked like nuclear runoff.

I have to say, if you're vegan and looking for a holistic retreat, I probably wouldn't recommend the Jersey Shore. I'd probably recommend Northampton or San Francisco or Santa Fe or even Detroit before I'd send you to the Jersey Shore. It was an awesome weekend with my family, but the food situation was... well, you get the point.

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