Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Getting There. Locally.

All the way home from my errands and Costco, all I could think about was Mighty Fine Burgers.  There is a specific taste and smell to the entire place, just the right size burger, no cheese required, crispy crinkle fries, salt and pepper on the tables.  Now, even the quickest glance at the QC will tell you that we have hamburgers quite often here at Casa O - they're easy, they're quick, they're tasty.  And with the lean beef or ground sirloin, not all that bad for you.  But they never quite measure up to Mighty Fine. So, what is the magic to eating out?

I don't know the answer to that question, but it pervades.  G was telling me last week that she dreams about eating out in class.  When I asked her what restaurant she dreams about, she said, "all of them.  I think about it all the time.  Texican, Dan's, Maudies, Taco Cabana.  I spend whole classes thinking about it."  Now, she's the one that wasn't going to be in love with the idea of the project from the get-go, but I have to say that even I can kind of get what she's saying.

Because fast food/restaurant food is absolutely pervasive.  On my circle trip of errands while the kids are in tutoring, I pass the following:

Taco Bell
Mama Fu's Chinese
Mighty Fine Burgers
River City Coffee and Bakery
Zen Japanese
Longhorn Steakhouse
BJ's Brewhouse
Doc's Backyard
Which Wich (I think)
Dickey's BBQ
Serrano's Mexican
Potbelly Sandwiches
Mandola's Italian kitchen
Taco Cabana
Wings To Go
Chuy's Mexican
Firehouse Subs
Kerbey Lane
P Terry's
And that's just the ones I can think of right now.

All of these are located on the maybe two mile loop.   And they were mostly all busy, or at least occupied to some degree.  This business makes money, and a lot of it.  It also, to be fair, employs a lot of people.   Here's the reality, according to the restaurant industry themselves:


  • Sales: $632 billion
  • Locations: 970,000
  • Employees: 12.9 million — one of the largest private-sector employers
  • Restaurant-industry share of the food dollar: 48%


  • $1.7 billion: Restaurant-industry sales on a typical day in 2012.
  • 1.4 million: Number of positions the restaurant industry will add in the next decade.
  • Restaurant-industry job growth has outpaced the national economy in 12 consecutive years, from 2000 through 2011.
  • 93%: Percentage of eating-and-drinking place businesses that have fewer than 50 employees.
  • 7 out of 10 eating-and-drinking place establishments are single-unit operations.
  • 66% of adults say their favorite restaurant foods provide flavor and taste sensations which cannot easily be duplicated in their home kitchen.
  • One-half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives, and one-third got their first job experience in a restaurant.
  • 80% of restaurant owners said their first job in the restaurant industry as an entry-level position.
  • $2,505: Average household expenditure on food away from home in 2010.
  • 38%: Percent of adults who said they would be likely to utilize a smartphone app if it was offered by a quickservice restaurant.
Get more details in our 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
Source: (highlighting is mine)

All that food, with all that salt, all those calories, all those preservatives, or not, as far as you know.  I'm not sure if it's a plus or a drawback that you don't know what's going into your food when you eat out.  And maybe people don't care.   If that many people think they can't replicate the taste at home, maybe that's a tradeoff that they're willing to make.  And how can you not think about outside food when you're bombarded with it all the time?

And I'll be honest, I almost packed it in today.  Not for any real reason other than I really, really wanted an over salted, over greasy, over large meal.  But I didn't do it.  Mostly because today was LOCAL DAY!  Well, that, and I'd already made dinner.

Okay, there's no such thing as local day.  I made that up.  But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't kick some locavore ass today.  I started the day with R. at the market day at Boggy Creek Farm where there was chard!  And eggs!  And spring onions!  And little, bitty, baby squashes!   There's only one thing you can do with that:  Quiche!  Squash and onions!

Other than the whole wheat pie crusts from Central Market and the low sodium bacon and parmesan from the Costco, everything in our dinner tonight was local.  The eggs were from JFTB's sister's chicken, the leeks from the farm box and the chard from Boggy Creek.  Our veg was tiny baby zucchini and yellow squash and spring onions sauteed in olive oil.  We did have some multigrain toast from the La Brea bakery, but that's usually a breakfast item, so I'm letting it ride.

T. was home, and we actually sat around the table, all four of us, and ate our local meal at our local home.  And it was wonderful.  But does that mean I'm not going to miss the Mighty Fine?

No, it does not.



  1. if i was counting, i'd say you maybe forgot torchy's. which is salty. and greasy. and high-calorie. keep up the great work - you can do this! {heart}

  2. Wait. What? There's a Torchy's? And I didn't even know about it? This just gets harder and harder.

  3. totally joking. there is absolutely *not* a torchy's in the same general vicinity (north west-ish/same parking lot) as mandola, cheddar's, and chuy's.