that’s Chef Bacon to you

One day I conquered one of my biggest fears, just like that.  Poof, all gone.  And that day was today.  2 weeks ago today I decided to stop screwing around and actually get some real restaurant experience.  So I went in and trailed a chef.  I did hardly anything.  I plated some cheese, washed some dishes, and mostly watched him.  Last Tuesday I made my second appearance.  After plating more cheese/bread boards, working on knife skills (mincing garlic and the like), and hiding from regular customers, I was given food to eat and a mop to clean the floors with.  Then I was told that the 3rd weekend in October he would be gone and it would be my debut as solo chef lady.  Uhh shit!  I started paying attention and then showed up on Wednesday night to try my hand cooking a thing or two off of that week’s menu.

That was really smart on my part because he was sick tonight.  As in can’t work, crazy fever sick.  So the owner sent him home and smiled at me.  Double shit!  I hadn’t even looked at the this week’s menu.  Please God don’t let there be seafood.  Shrimp and scallops with herbs in broth.  Perfect.  I hate cooking scallops they’re so easy to screw up.  It was only the most expensive thing on his menu.  Great.

Since people seemed to only be ordering cheese boards (it’s a wine bar with a tasting menu) I starting rummaging around the fridge.  I found about 2 pounds of bacon starting to turn a little off color.  So I decided to salvage it and cooked all of it.  The problem with that idea was that it smelled like heaven and made people hungry.  Then came 3 orders of pork tenderloin, an order of the damn scallops, and a beet/apple salad.  To calm my nerves I ate bacon, a lot of bacon.  It worked like a charm.  I was so subdued from pork fat that I couldn’t be nervous.
The owner told me that even the malevolent French woman smiled for the first time in history.  She did smirk beforehand “what iz zhere only one pan in zee kitchen?” Honestly I wasn’t that slow, but maybe I’ll hold off on some of the bacon in a few weeks when I go solo again.  And also don’t the French like their meals served in courses and slowly?  Perhaps Madame was an imposter.   God, I feel really sick right now, but happy I rocked my first service.

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McDonald’s and Preschool Extremism

My almost 4 year old has just started a different preschool. Recently she came home and announced, “McDonald’s has chicken with poop in it”. Followed by, “does McDonald’s chicken really have poop in it?” Her father and I simultaneously said, “probably” without thinking about it. Then I thought about it and felt frustrated. She never even knew that McDonald’s existed until last week. Sure, I think McDonald’s is complete crap on so many levels but it had always been a non-issue for our family because we don’t eat there.

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This is where so many well meaning parents and educators go wrong while teaching little ones about food in my opinion. At her previous preschool they taught the children “growing food” and “junk food”. Sounds good right? Well it became confusing. They were required to eat their growing food before they could have their junk food. It was the rule. The problem I had with that was the teachers decided that her peanut butter and jelly sandwich was growing food and her applesauce was junk food. Applesauce is far more nutritious than jelly as far as I’m concerned, but I decided not to press it.

Then came all the questions, “is this junk food? is this….is this”. Finally I tried to put an end to it and said “there’s not really junk food but rather sometimes food.” Ice-cream makes it on the list as a sometimes food and strawberries can be an everyday food. Balanced eating is a much better approach than making foods bad. I far too often eat desserts not because I want it, but because I was taught to think of them as high calorie forms of naughtiness. And maybe it’s naughtiness that I need especially after 8 years of a deeply committed marriage and 4 years of striving to be a peaceful parent. But I wish I had been taught at an early age that release can come in the form of aggressive exercise or scheduling a massage. It’s dessert that’s my drug of choice and I must remind myself daily to think of it as a sometimes food.

McDonald’s is completely evil, no doubt. Bad Bad Bad. But that’s not the message I feel my kids should get because it only sparks interest. The last thing I want my daughter to eat when she’s depressed or worried is chicken with poop in it.

“Would you like a Nursing Stool?”

What if in the future a waiter were to see a nursing mother and offer her a stool instead of a blanket (to cover up) like Applebees is considering? Imagine a stack of nursing stools propped next to the stack of high chairs at your favorite eatery. If I have my way it will happen as soon as possible. Our country’s dismal breastfeeding rates will increase when attitudes change. Babies will become healthier making the world a happier place.

You can help! Email me at breedakahlo@gmail.com

Tell Breeda Kahlo your experiences both positive and discriminatory and let’s make this vision a reality.

Applebees Hates Babies, Try Hooters Instead

If you’re hungry next Saturday (September 8th) you might consider going to Hooters for lunch. But first drive by Applebees and honk your horn in support of the national nurse-out/nurse-in or better yet make a witty sign and go stand up for a baby’s right to eat. That’s right, you read it correctly, I am endorsing Hooters as a family-friendly restaurant. A few months back in Kentucky a woman left an Applebees crying (and without her meal) to nurse her baby in the car. Despite the fact that she chose a booth in the back of the restaurant so she could nurse her baby while waiting for her own meal, she was asked to cover up. With no blanket handy they told her she’d have to cover or leave.

Even though KY has a law that states a woman has the right to feed her child anywhere she’s allowed to be, the manager said the comfort of his customers was his priority. Wow, I didn’t know you can break a law on account of people finding it uncomfortable or offensive. When my kids are crying in the back seat next time, I’ll just race through that school zone so I can get home faster. My comfort is a top priority and apparently that’s how the restaurant manager sees it too. The law mentions nothing about a woman having to cover up. And let’s get real here, most babies hate being covered. I lose my appetite too in hot humid environments, like say under blankets. And if you’re a complete bigot about to comment on my blog (first thanks, I love comments of all kinds) and suggest she go to a bathroom to nurse, try eating your plate of hot wings sitting on the john. I won’t complain if you use the fold down changing table.

Breastmilk is amazing because the taste changes depending on what a woman eats. So often even a newborn can get a whiff of a deep fried appetizer and say “waaaah”, meaning “I’m hungry please feed me,” even though Precious has never tried the boneless burritos or beer battered cheese nibblets before.

The multi-franchise owner (Thomas and King) had their lawyer send a letter stating that the company is considering having blankets handy to give out to women, who don’t have them, to avoid this situation. That’s really pretty gross, who’s going to clean those blankets? And with what sort of detergent? What if little Tommy is allergic to Tide?

Why doesn’t she just pump a bottle you ask? Well, pumps are expensive, are they going to hand those out too? And sometimes women can’t pump. It can be a lot more painful than a soft baby mouth. Then we’re back to the comfort issue. What if little darling won’t take a bottle? It happens, especially if they smell mama around. OR what if mama can’t pump the same quantity that the nursling can extract?

Honestly, the only time I’d consider going to Applebees would be to protest. Before today it would have been to protest the taking of frozen crap food and deep frying it and charging people $10 a plate.

I did a little experiment of my own last night. I thought of a pretty conservative place, Lubbock, TX and called up the fancy new Hooters off of Loop 289 and Slide Road. Sure, it’s possible that people nurse their children in Lubbock, but I’ve never seen it firsthand and I lived in the area for 19 years.

“Thank you for calling Hooters Lubbock blah blah blah.”

Me: “Hi, I was just curious to know if you guys have a breastfeeding policy?”

Super nice girl on the other end: “Uhhhh I’ll have to check on that.” Hold music (“I’ve got hooters on my mind la la la la la”) Perfect!

A different woman, Lexi, is given my call and explains to me that she’s from the home office. She tells me that there’s no policy on breastfeeding. “You’ll probably cover up that little head right,” she asks.

Me: “Well she’s 5 months old and doesn’t like to be covered but it’s not like I’m going to take out my boob and show everyone around me before I feed her.”

Her (in a much more personable tone): “You know what, you do what your family feels is right, use your discretion, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

So then I call up Applebees in Austin (where we live). I purposefully pick the closest location to Central Austin where the dirty hippie mamas often do these “bizarre feeding acts”.

“Thank you for calling Applebees yadda yadda yadda” says unassuming young man.

Me: “Hi, do you have a policy on breastfeeding at your restaurant?”

Him: “I’m sorry?”

Me: “If I come to eat there with my family, can I breastfeed my baby?”

Him: “If you cover up with a blanket then there shouldn’t be a problem, but there’s no policy I know of.”

Me: “OK thanks.”

So while the responses aren’t “you go girlfriend, good for you that you are providing the food nature (if you’re in Lubbock, God) intended,” I was surprised to learn that Hooters in a very conservative town came out the winner over Applebees in much more progressive Austin.

Also Lexi scored a few extra points for Hooters when she used the word “family”. Because this isn’t about me having the right to nurse, it’s about my baby having the right to eat. Breastfeeding awareness and acceptance isn’t a woman’s issue, it’s a family issue. We humans didn’t secure a place in the Mammal category because of formula. Plus Applebees gets a big point deduction for giving a toddler a sippy cup full of MARGARITA in June, even if it was an accident. After throwing up and a sleepy trip to the hospital, the little guy bounced back from the tequila tango. Top shelf tequila for a toddler on June 14th, OOPS. Breastfeeding a baby uncovered on June 15th, NOT ACCEPTABLE. Gotcha.

So Hooters in Lubbock, ironically I will be in your area this weekend. If I can convince Nana and Granddad to eat with me and my girls at your location, I might just buy a t-shirt after my meal. Does Hooters sell nursing tops?

The Boobs Have IT.

My time that is.  When I came up with the idea of writing this blog last December I knew it was doomed from the start.  Whenever an idea comes, the following thoughts are why it won’t work.  But this was different.  I knew it was a good idea.  The problem is that parenting and eating well and dining out are all very broad subjects.

The original plan was to encourage parents and children to help me review restaurants.  I still very much love the idea of cataloging the adventures that are had while eating with children.  Their senses are sharper and therefore can be better at discerning flavors if given the chance.  Plus they often drop things and crawl under table to retrieve.  So they certainly see things from a much different perspective.

Then my life became centered around breastfeeding.  I breastfed my first child successfully and it never occurred to me that problems would arise with my second.  As soon as I retrieved my baby from the floor (that’ll be a whole other post someday) and breathed life into her, our new family of 4 crawled into bed and we welcomed her as she nursed for over an hour and a half.  Perfection.
Then for the next 2 months after that, my little human and I couldn’t get it down.  Literally.  It was horrible and after much crying from both of us we finally learned how to work together.  It’s one of the most intimate and sacred experiences to prepare food for another person.  To actually make it with your body is even more so and much more emotional for both parties.

A good friend of mine gave me a tip for nursing in public.  The idea was so brilliant I asked her if we should market it to the masses.  She, being another lover of all things material, agreed that it might just pay our “mamas who lunch” bills someday.   Not long after we started our humble planning and research, my friend since 6th grade calls me up to tell me she’s been fired for breastfeeding her child while at work (since this is a legal matter I cannot elaborate at this time).  This has led to lots of anger and hours spent online researching laws and reading about families who have been discriminated against for how they feed their children.  So many stories of restaurant discrimination have come up.

So what’s a girl to do?  I am currently trying to get a better idea of what it is I should be doing with my energetic anger on behalf of my friend.   One of my dreams would be to start a non-profit organization to promote breastfeeding friendliness in restaurants nationwide.  Although she didn’t work in the food business, it’s what I’m most comfortable tackling, I suppose.  So for now I, like many pubescent boys, am only thinking about breasts. And that’s where I’ve been since July.

Madam Mams – Austin, TX

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“Plenty of highchairs but no changing table” says Becka (fellow breeder and friend).  Hmm I don’t know how they do it in Thailand but in the USA we prefer a table to plop our babies on.  Regardless, they make a mean pad thai.  While pregnant with Violet I got one of the worst colds I’ve ever had.  Dan went to MM‘s and got me some pad thai with chili.  You have to request it but I swear by it as a cure.  My temperature raised 2 degrees while eating it (I took my temperature before the first bite and then during the meal) and I think it helped kill off whatever was plaguing me.

The heartburn that followed was off the chart but it was worth it.  In fact I would change a baby in my lap in the car to eat there.  The above photo is from the Guadalupe location but I prefer Westgate because it’s more accessible and kid friendly.  A word of caution regarding thai chilis…don’t eat with your hands.  When we were cooking up such dishes in culinary school I noticed some of my chef-mates were wearing gloves.   I laughed at them and taunted them for their wussiness but soon found out that the joke was on me.  My fingertips began to burn as soon as my knife touched the skin of the pepper.  I left class that day with blistered hands.

Do NOT feed this dish to children unless you want to introduce them to the concept of hellfire.   You will probably end up in court soon thereafter.

2514 Guadalupe St  (512) 472-8306

4515 Westgate Blvd. (512) 899-8525

Kids are the New Black

but I guess there are some people that didn’t get that memo. I find that surprising in a world where US Weekly is one of the most read “news” sources available. Almost every cover features Angelina or Brittney with a kid or 2 dangling off of them. As far as we know every human adult started out as a baby. So what’s with all the haters out there?

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I just came across an article about the increasing use of kid-free zones. Restaurants and beaches are starting to either segregate kiddos and their families or exclude them altogether. When Camilla was just under 2 years old a friend of mine invited me to join her at Saba Blue Water Cafe for happy hour appetizers and a drink. I opened the front door holding Camilla, who was asleep in my arms, and was told to wait there. The host went to the back and then returned to inform me that they stopped allowing kids inside but would make an exception. I was still puzzled when I ordered my mojito . It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be allowed in a food establishment at 4 in the afternoon, especially in a place with the word cafe in the name.

When she woke up she tried my ceviche and loved it. She really really loved it. I don’t know very many kids that devour raw shrimp marinated in citrus juice, but how often are they given the opportunity? I have always seen her mouth as my palate (no pun intended), my blank slate. She was well behaved and I would have left if a tantrum ensued. The point is, this was 2 years ago and I’m still thinking about the mini gastro-adventure we went on that day. The problem with not allowing children at all is that well-behaved ones miss out too.

It wasn’t very far back in history that certain groups of people weren’t allowed in restaurants. Seriously, maybe kids really are the new Black after all. How could anyone deny these darlings gourmet fare?

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