Sunday, January 26, 2014

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

riding the freeway
I-15 northbound, past Lawrence Welk Resort
Riding the freeways just isn't the big boredom that it used to be for me. As little as a few years ago, I didn't care to ride the slab. I always wanted to take the little highways that ran through mountains and canyons.

But these days are different. Today, my motorcycle is back to being my only means of transportation. It isn't just for recreation anymore. As a result, it changes the way I think about motorcycling. Now, it's my daily vehicle. It's no longer a toy I keep around for the weekends. Freeways are just a fact of life in San Diego, and riding them on my motorcycle is a fact of life.

Instead, you learn to find the fun in riding freeways, just as much as I find the fun in riding through downtown. Motorcycling is no longer a thing I do to get away from domestic life, it's completely engrained into my domestic life.

I remember seeing a rerun of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown", the one where he discovers the restaurants of Korea Town Los Angeles. He hooks up with an ecclectic Korean-American painter named David Choe.

The show depicts Choe in his studio garage surrounded by bikini clad Korean hotties as he feverishly swashes black paint across a canvas in the same fervor as a hip hop rapper spitting saliva into a microphone. Choe talks to Bourdain with a kind of youthful attitude and anger found ad nauseum on MTV.  Bourdain wants to get inside this guy's head to figure out what makes him tick, because only a hometown boy like Choe knows where to find the down to Earth eats that Koreans go to enjoy.

Sizzler in Murrieta, CA
So it comes to no surprise that Choe takes Bourdain to a Sizzler for the salad bar buffet.

Bourdain's facial expression was that of amusement and that of "You're joking, right?" But as it turns out, Korean-Americans are enamored with the corporate American fare. To them, day-old lettuce and frozen chicken wings is exotic Western dining. It's the stuff completely opposite of kim chee and bulgogi beef, and it's stuff romanticized on such American media as Roseanne and The Simpsons.  And the fact that they can eat all they want for one low price, leaves the matter without question.

So there's Bourdain, sitting at a table of formica and naugahyde, being taught how to stuff meatballs into a crispy taco shell topped off with nacho cheese sauce.  Bourdain holds the taco up to his mouth and pauses, the same way he pauses when he's about to eat pig testicles in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He takes a bite and nods his head a few times in approval.

According to Bourdain, it was the first time he had ever been to a Sizzler.

Whether its meatball and cheese sauce tacos at Sizzler or some strange hog entrail stew in an European town, the experience is all the same. It looks gross, it smells sick, and it'll probably make you barf later on. But it's not to say that one is more exotic than the other.

SR-163 southbound, San Diego
Riding the superslab through California might be as uninteresting and dull as eating the salad bar at Sizzler. But there are still people elsewhere in the world who dream of doing so. And when they finally get here and ride the Interstate, it might turn out to be anticlimactic, but it was something they could boast about back home.

Perhaps for Sash and I, riding the freeway this afternoon and having lunch at Sizzler was nothing exciting. But then again, it's just living for us, the same way it is for Czechoslovakians eating pig testicles.  But there are still people who envy us for doing so.


  1. I used to love Sizzler's all you can eat shrimp. When I was a Marine up in Pendleton, I drove down to SD to take my grandma to lunch. At Sizzler.

    Sure, it wasn't fancy but it was me and my gram and I was buying lunch with money I earned at my first real job--the USMC.

    All things considered, I prefer Sizzler's shrimp to pig nuts.

  2. Years ago I knew a Russian woman who always wanted to stop and take pictures of cloverleafs and highway interchanges. She was a civil engineer and they just did not have these things in her country. So you never know what is going to impress someone.

  3. Steve:

    One day I was thinking about our Dogs. We used to buy the same brand of dog food. We feed them the same stuff every day, for years. And every day when we opened up the bag and put some dog food in their bowls, they were so excited, and with wagging tails couldn't wait to eat their dinner. The same stuff every day

    Riding the Wet Coast


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)