My Stomach’s USA Bucket List

Let’s start with some good, old-fashioned travel gloating; this Friday my husband and I leave for a 3-week trip to the USA. The itinerary includes Halloween-related activities, crocodiles, cowboy boots, a road trip through the desert – and lots of rich foods our stomachs won’t be remotely acclimatised to.

Despite a life-long fascination with American pop culture and cult entertainment that started with Punky Brewster and peaked with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’ve somehow never set foot on the land of super-sized-everything. It’s been on the list forever but I’ve somehow always ended up going elsewhere. So at the ripe old age of 33, I’m set to satisfy my inner-7-year-old and experience all the random things I’ve long associated with America.

Alas, I’ve recently realised about 80% of the items on my USA trip to-do list involve ingesting some sort of high-fat, obesity-promoting American delicacy devoid of nutritional value. Food and digestive-system reports to follow, but for now – here’s a glimpse of the list as it currently stands:

1) Eat a NYC street hot dog

My friend Lou believes I’m going to die from this one, so I’ll leave it as late in the piece as possible. When I say ‘street hot dog’ I don’t mean some flaccid pink tube of bain-marie meat that’s been plucked out of a bath of its own juices, but to be honest I don’t know much about the range at hand, so this could well be my only option.

2) Visit Walmart

I don’t know why. Morbid curiosity? Fodder for future meme generation?

3) Eat a Twinkie

I haven’t got the slightest idea what a Twinkie tastes like, but Claudia Kishi from the Babysitters Club used to squirrel them away in her bedroom and presumably binged on them in the dark of night when her controlling parents weren’t watching. Which makes me think I need to eat one.

4) Eat pie and drink coffee at a road diner

Served by a woman named Maud. And presuming I’m not dead from number 1, this might finish the job.

5) Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

Oh good! Some exercise. That should work off a mouthful of dirty street dog.

6) Stay in a roadside motel

Again, I don’t know why this appeals to me. I think it’s because it’s such an American cinema ritual – think Starman, Poltergeist, Psycho.

7) Drink Shipyard Pumpkin Beer

Random story. A few months ago I went to a friend’s farewell at a lawn bowls club and one of the other guests was a guy from New Jersey, who for some reason was very insistent that I try some form of pumpkin beer upon visiting the States. So what the hell. This one’s for you, random New Jersey guy that I’ll probably never meet again.

8) Celebrate Halloween

As a kid my favourite cartoon of all time was the Disney Headless Horseman Halloween special. Even now I’m nuts for a Simpsons Halloween episode. It’s the American holiday I wish Australia would adopt in earnest, but since that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon I’m going to throw myself into experiencing one while we’re there – Headless Horseman included.

9) Buy cowboy boots in the Wild West

Cos you know – the Wild West.

10) Eat a po’ boy in New Orleans

Fat. So much impending fat. Also, deep-fried oyster.

11) Take a roadie-portrait in a convertible

Part of our trip involves driving a Ford Mustang rental across Death Valley, which I have admittedly been nervous about due to the operative word ‘death’ and the amount of Google results I’ve found that involve rattlesnakes, dehydration and a complete lack of mobile phone coverage. Which doesn’t exactly sound like an ideal photo opportunity, but it remains on the list. A little less Thelma-and-Louise, a little more Aussie-Kiwi-Couple-Before-They-Were-Killed-By-Rattlesnakes.

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