Monday, February 18, 2008

Food in the Field

I spent most of yesterday doing finances (balancing checkbooks and the like) and organizing receipts in preparation for tax time. The latter is still ongoing. I did manage to get out of the house, out for lunch at the Nevada Café, where I had a—you guessed it—grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milkshake. This time (as compared to the day before) the sandwich came with barely crisp, somewhat greasy fries instead of brown-around-the-edges cole slaw; the chocolate milkshake was very chocolaty and quite thick. The food conditions can vary from day to day within the same restaurant, but a few rules tend to hold: if you want good fries, go to the Casino Restaurant; if you want pickles with your sandwich, go to the Nevada Café. I’m not sure how the cole slaw is at the Nevada, but don’t eat it at the Casino, it tends to be brown, as though cut yesterday or even two weeks ago. How long does it take the edges of cut cabbage to get brown? In my refrigerator, it seems like it might take at least four days, if not a week or more. This could be a subject for further investigation for those on the restaurant rating circuits.

“Foodie” posts aren’t necessarily that well thought of unless they are distinctively gourmet-like. What I’ve found through the years, through many years of field work and travel, is that geologists who actually get out into the field find the condition of their food to be vital, maybe even critical. Consequently, numerous field geologists have devised rating schemes for restaurants across the western U.S. (the area I’m most familiar with), and some have created restaurant guides. We—at Former Mining Company—had our favorite Mexican restaurants, we had mapped the “machaca line,” north of which machaca might only be served at breakfast, if at all, and we had also discovered the two worst pizza joints known. One of the best Mexican places was in Yuma, Arizona, where they served “pitchers of enchiladas” according to one former colleague. Well... and that was the place I first heard the story of how Yuma got its name. A couple versions are listed below, but neither one of them seems quite right to me.

Legend has it there was a card game and and ensuing gunfight. The person on the receiving end of the bullet looked up at the shooter and his last words were: "You, ma. . ." and he died before he could finish the multi-syllable word...

Another story from Arizona tells how two grizzled prospectors argued for years about what they would name their desert home. They finally decided to shoot the first person who came their way, then name the place after his last word. The unlucky visitor turned out to be a black cowboy who was duly shot and approached; he raised his head and with his last breath said, “You muh. . . .

The two worst pizza joints, by the way, were in Blythe, CA and in Trona, CA. Of course, almost anything could be not-so-good in Trona, with all that trona salt flying around.

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