Imagine with me…hot crispy french fries smothered in gooey, garlicky cheeses and loaded with salty bacon, tender pulled pork and the sweetest/smokiest BBQ sauce, crowned with caramelized onions and jalapeños. Are you hungry yet? Now imagine you just spent all day walking through the National Mall on a 90+ degree DC day with four small children in tow who hadn’t eaten since lunch and you’re settling in at 9:30pm in front of those luscious Pig Fries with an ice-cold IPA (or lemonade, if that’s your cup of tea!) 😉 and you’ll have a glimpse of why this appetizer is held in such high regard in our house. Here we are at the start of said day…all smiles and coffee and freshness…
Since our return from DC last Labor Day we have fondly replicated this dish in our home kitchen several times (tonight, in fact!) with moderate success. I mean, it’s hard to mess this up, right? It’s basically loaded/smothered French fries with extra bacon- what could go wrong? 🙂 But nothing compares to our memory of those supremely satisfying first bites as we relaxed at the industrial-chic adult-oriented no-kids-menu restaurant in our hotel just off Capitol Hill and tried to debrief about all the (literal) National Treasures we had seen and experienced that day. Some things just taste better when the day has been so full and your surroundings are so rich and new. I have a 10-year-old son, and as many Mamas do, I love to spoil him with his favorite foods- meals I know he will love. Setting a high bar for his future wife. 😉 Pig fries are high on his “favorites list” and if you have boys (or husbands or, who are we kidding, anyone! Yourself!) you should make an at-home version of our DC favorite and watch the rave reviews pour in. Don’t count calories on this one though…cheat day? 😉 Here’s the homemade version…some of my littles are a bit pickier than others…
Eating and traveling for me are so interconnected that many of my most vivid memories of past trips as well as my highest expectations for future ones revolve around the foods and drinks that we consume on our travels. To experience a place fully I truly believe that you should try as many regional specialties at as many locally-owned establishments as possible- calories and dollars be darned. 😉 To travel to Boston and not eat cannoli would be a crying Italian shame. When in Rome… fresh lobster rolls in Maine, dumplings in Chinatown, fried shrimp at the Gulf Coast, a real Philly Cheesesteak (wiz-with) in Philadelphia, BBQ ribs in Memphis, deep-dish pizza in Chicago, Avocado Anything in SoCal, and an amazing craft beer in Ft. Collins (to name just a FEW of my recent favorites ha!). And the best part?? Instagraming that lovely local specialty and making your friends hungry with jealousy. Juuuust kidding, although that is a ton of fun. 😉 No, for me the best part is broadening my own culinary horizons with hopes that I can bring those new ideas home to our dinner plates. For me, some things will always have to be “vacation foods” due to ingredient availability but mostly the fact that I do not operate in a glamorous industrial kitchen with hours to spend crafting a culinary masterpiece every night. If that’s you, you have no excuse. If you’re like me…go out- especially when on vacation! 🙂
The world is a delicious place my friends, and people are so proud of their “specialties” and “worlds bests” and “home of the” and “famous fors” and “family favorites” they just can’t wait to share them with you out-of-towners. When we order those local favorites and swipe that card, it honors their heritage, creativity, cultural diversity and hours/years of butt-busting work to bring you that plate of local delectability. So help me if you’re in a new place and you eat at McDonalds (except for in the most dire of circumstances i.e.: possible starvation) I’m not sure we can be friends. 😉 Do yourself a favor and get a plate of lamb curry or a Cuban sandwich or a roasted beet salad. I promise it won’t hurt you and you can go back to your burgers and mac and cheese in a few short days. But maybe…just maybe…you’ll throw a slice of avocado on that burger just like the one you had in San Diego or some lobster and bacon in that mac a la Portland, Maine and you’ll have a better dinner AND a better story to tell.
Stay curious and stay hungry y’all.
With love and a full belly,