San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetesSee all posts »
I mentioned recently that my wife and I were taking a trip through the beautiful red rock country of southern Utah. To get there, we drove along back roads through California and central Nevada.
One of our stops in Nevada was the hamlet of Rachel, a collection of mobile homes at the eastern edge of the huge “secret” Air Force testing area popularly known as Area 51. (Only in America can a supposedly hidden-away, ultra-secret air base be located on every tourist map, extensively described in Wikipedia, and the topic of numerous TV documentaries!)
Rachel lies at the heart of the famed Extraterrestrial Highway, said to be the best place on earth to observe the UFOs that some claim visit Area 51 to spy on humans’ high-tech experiments.
The draw at Rachel is the A’Le’Inn restaurant, a small diner that has developed an international following. Not only is it filled with alien-themed knick-knacks and tschotkes, over the years it has become a happy meeting place for extraterrestrials-seeking pilgrims from all over the world.
You never know when a couple of middle-aged German UFO fans might run into a family of Argentine or Iowan flying saucer aficionados, and a good time starts getting had by all.
It’s fun enough to be in such a remote place which has a reputation worldwide among millions of far-flung people, but for me the draw was Pat’s grits.
Pat (her real name is Priscilla, but it seems people around Rachel like to shorten multi-syllable names just to speed things up) is the A’Le’Inn’s cook. I was being a good boy keeping to my low-carb routine, so I ordered an omelet, but I couldn’t resist when the waitress asked me if I wanted grits or hash browns on the side.
I hadn’t had grits for years, but had picked up a polenta habit along the way. I figured a small carb hit from some grits and the fact that I was on a holiday from my normal life made it OK to order them.
Dang, Pat was good. Her omelet eggs were as fluffy as a soufflé, but the creamy grits she served were better than anything I remember. The waitress offered me more butter to put on them, but I politely asked, “Whatever for?”
Those grits made me suddenly understand why Southerners are so avid for them.
I didn’t finish them. A naughty pleasure is best when you don’t get too much of it. I left the A’Le’Inn with a nice memory and a reassurance about my ability to take an occasional dip into the carbohydrate pool and not drown.
One of the things that led me eventually to acquire type 2 was eating what I wanted when I wanted it. The past 10 years have taught me that that is no longer possible.
Still, every once in a while I like a small taste of things I’ve given up. I enjoy the moment and don’t try to complicate matters by thinking I’m setting out on a slippery slope. A few forkfuls of grits on a lonely Nevada desert were something out of the ordinary, part of being on vacation.
And a vacation is just a temporary step away from the ordinary, not a whole new way of life.