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Aside from a brief work trip to Chicago and a wedding in Omaha (in February!), I haven’t spent much time in the Midwest. I’ve spent even less time thinking about what the food scene looks like. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a strong personal connection to the region or because I haven’t heard much about it in my usual reading lineup and podcast rotation. Whatever the case, when Explore St. Louis invited me on a press trip focused specifically on the city’s edible treasures, I was surprised. Then I was confused, and then intrigued.

What I found, ultimately, is a city on the verge. The takeaway: St. Louis has good food. St. Louis is typically known for barbecue, frozen custard, and their wafer-thin crust and processed cheese combo they dub St. Louis-style pizza, though St. Louisans want us to know they’re much more than that. And after sampling an array of James Beard Award-nominated eats, Bosnian street food, modern spins on Brazilian comfort food to name a few, I believe them.

Exciting things are afoot in St. Louis, and I wrote a snapshot at what that looks like (and where it’s headed) for Mic. READ IT HERE.

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San Diego food radar

Barrio Dogg, Barrio Logan

While reporting in the Barrio Logan neighborhood (also known as Logan Heights, before I-5 was erected) one of my local interview sources insisted I speak with the proprietor of what I thought was a hot dog cart.

Turns out, Barrio Dogg moved into a brick and mortar on Logan Ave. earlier this year and are slinging some satisfying bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Also known as a TJ dog, the all-beef franks are tucked into house-made, brioche-like buns (“to stand up to the condiments,” the owner said) that you can top with an array of salsas and cremas with names like Crazy Rabbit – a carrot and habanero mix – and Purple Rain, made with beets and – if my hastily scribbled notes are accurate – cactus fruit.

One dog is enough to feed two people (or one particularly ravenous friend, I guess), especially if you order a few sides. I got to try them all. My favorites: the peppery Mama’s Macaroni – a nod to the owner’s youth – and Elotitos, corn from the cob dressed in whipped lime crema. Tangy and comforting.

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Upcoming Travels

This weekend, I’m headed to Wellspring in Palm Springs* to learn about the exploding business of wellness, and maybe pop into a sound healing and CBD oil massage in between.

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Then it’s off to Brussels next month and I am wholly unprepared for weather that dips below 70 degrees, but here goes nothing!

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive compensation should you make a purchase from my outbound link. As always, however, opinions are my own.

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Lisbon

A literary thank you letter to Ana, my Airbnb host during my summer in Lisbon last year, who did so much more for me than provide me with a comfortable stay just steps from Parque Eduardo VII. It turns out, I’d be one of her last guests, and I’m glad I made the cut.

I grew up in your kitchen, though we were acquaintances at best. I fumbled to light your gas stove, rummaged for the appropriate pots and pans to perform my pedestrian alchemy, burned my toast and attempted what you would characterize as a winter stew. It was the middle of summer in Lisbon, but it was one of the few things I could make by memory.

The sound of your espresso machine punctuated the a new day. Your ritual; two shakes of cinnamon and espresso downed in two gulps.

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Photo credit: AFAR magazine

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is both a revealing and introspective memoir by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil.

The book shifts from past and present frequently; Wamariya’s past as a refugee who moves through more than seven African countries before she and her older sister arrive in the United States, and the internal and physical challenges and tragedies of survival and of a life suspended.

In the present narrative, Wamariya struggles to reconcile how her turbulent past has shaped her into the woman she is now, and the person she wishes to be.  

Read this for a first-person perspective on the consequences of war – the 1994 Rwandan genocide, specifically – and the complicated relationships we have with our family and our selves.

Rwanda travel

For further reading, I enjoyed this story from AFAR magazine that considers a Rwanda as a travel destination in the decades following the conflict. The New York Times’ travel section also published a 36-hour itinerary of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city.

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San Diego may be the eighth largest city in the country, but walkable pockets like Little Italy make it feel cozy and manageable. My mood guides my appetite, and most times I’m in the mood for strong coffee and sweet and savory foods prepared with no-fuss and quality ingredients. I’m also into the sort of places where you can linger as long as you like, and Little Italy is bursting with these establishments.

In the years that I’ve either worked and/or played Downtown, here’s my most-frequented eat and drink list in Little Italy:

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