Monday, September 26, 2011

Pancake Taco Genius Grant.

As a kid, I once walked into a room where my dad was using a soup can to hammer a nail into a wall so that he could hang a picture. When I foolishly asked him why, he said “You know Francie, some people in life ask why. But I prefer to say ‘why not.’”

I knew that he had not set out to make the hanging of this picture a pivotal character-building moment in my life. He just couldn’t find the hammer.

Nonetheless, it is a philosophy I have tried to incorporate into my daily life as much as possible since that day.

Make an entire loaf of Wonder Bread into cinnamon toast one piece at a time?
And then eat it.

Why not?!
(It was the late 90’s, everyone was doing it. Plus, it was during a Weekend at Bernie’s slash Overboard marathon with my sister. He without sin may cast the first stone…)

Make a pie crust even though you have nothing to put inside of it, and then eat aforementioned empty pie crust because my sweet tooth is THAT bad?

Why not?!
The crust is always the best part anyway. Three cheers for having only the best part of anything, ever! I'm all over that.

Wear the crazy swingy gaucho pants that swept the nation like baby fish mouth that one summer, even though they were clearly designed only for all-legs model types, and actual real-life gauchos?

Why not?!
I can’t lie, there’s actually a lot of why nots for this one. But, hey! At least we all looked weird together.

When my dad came for a visit recently, he had a few things on his “To Do” list. Catalina Island. Solvang. The Biltmore Hotel where he worked when he lived in Los Angles 35 years ago.

And to hit a food truck.

For the first time, I was nervous that perhaps I had oversold the whole food truck thing. I mean, sure I breathlessly tell people who are actively zoning out in response to me how I missed the I Heart Schnitzel truck by 3 infuriating minutes because of a really long red light on Chandler. Sure, I feel my pulse quicken as I scout for a parking space on an unparkable street, send a quick iPhone picture to a friend of the three signs posted in front of the space just to make sure I’m reading it right, and glance over my shoulder the whole time even after verification by a third party. Sure, I curse under my breath as I smooth out the printed pink napkin I use to identify myself, because it is now irreparably rumpled after a short but brutal sentence in my tiny purse with 5 chapsticks and a pair of gas station sunglasses.

For the record, the UV protection on those babies: zero.
But the rad factor: Also possibly zero.

So I know that the whole thing is exciting for me; but would it be for him? This is a guy who’s seen everything-been at every major political convention for the last 20 years. Spent his hippie twenties in Los Angeles, his early adulthood in booming Dallas-era Houston. Writes books, reads 500 page biographies, a history buff, policy wonk, and man can he tell a story.

Would this be a let-down? The way a waffle cone always smells better than it tastes? For someone who has done it all, how impressive is a paper-wrapped sidewalk taco eaten standing up and leaning over going to be?

As it turns out, it’s extremely impressive.

You guys know me now. I never have change for a meter, and I can get a parking ticket driving an invisible car. But my dad! Well, he never has change either, apparently. So that’s it, it’s genetic.

If there’s one thing I associate with my dad other than popcorn and obscure historical sights, it’s CNN. This was the channel-in-residence growing up, and sometimes on my foggier days I remember Wolf Blitzer and Candy Crowley as being friends of the family, over for dinner regularly, at my school plays, always ready with a bit of news. That is in fact incorrect. Obviously.

Starting the year before a national presidential election, John King started stopping by the house several hours a day. He brought his color-coded maps, Kennedy hair, and calm demeanor. Redistricting, and straw polls, endorsements, oh my!

Wolf, Candy, John, my dad, and I have been travelling the Yellow Brick Road To The Whitehouse together for decades.

So it is only fitting that my dad’s first big food truckage should happen in the shadow of the CNN building on Sunset.

It is slightly less fitting that that truck should be titled Eggslut, because, well, he’s my dad, and that could be weird.

I bounced out of the car towards the food-giving, truck driving, gypsy community I hold dear, and when I turned back to make sure he was keeping up because this was go-time, he had already passed me and was waiting up ahead.

We had a few things going for us-it wasn’t inhumanely hot. If you read A Wien Wien Situation then you know that both of us have a very low smoke point. So that was good. Plus, we were on the early end of the lunch hour, so instant gratification was on our horizon.

Also my dad is, and always has been, almost unreasonably interested in and excited about the things I do. He’s a Caps Lock Dad, the original Clark Griswold, with a bit of Phil Dunphy swirled in. He watched breathlessly as I introduced myself to Alvin and Blaise, the Eggslut dudes. (Two dudes in a truck called Eggslut. Irony, people! That’s what THAT’s called!) He proudly clicked away on his camera phone, to document the whole epic event.

The epic event which is called “ordering food, which someone then hands to you.”

Between the camera clicking and the not-at-all-under-the-radar thumbs up he flashed me, not much has changed since my fourth grade production of Alice In Wonderland. Just to get it out there, I played the Queen of Hearts. It was a role I was given after the only other girl who wanted it boldly but wrongly shouted “Off With Her Hand!” in the audition. Winning by default: it’s what you make of it.

My dad and I are pretty in sync. We both love similies, old movies, and bottomless chips and salsa. And now, we both love (seriously, brace yourself) PANCAKE. TACOS.

Not Pancakes. Not Tacos. Pancake Tacos.

Ok, huddle up. It’s a buttermilk pancake with scrambled eggs and crumbled bacon on top, drizzled (or drenched) in maple syrup, and eaten like a taco.


So that’s the technical definition. But really it’s Sleeping In, Surprise Birthday Party, First Sweater Weather of the Year, Brownie Batter, Best Friend, Enough Quarters for Laundry, Road Trip, Movie Day, Legwarmers amazingness. It’s as though all of your favorite things are now a taco, and you are now experiencing it all at once. Not exaggerating: it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. And I eat everything.

(Note: Dear Sephora employees, I did not actually eat any of that body wash that smells exactly like a rice krispie treat. I was just smelling it really, really hard. Thank you, and see you soon.)

It is a Neverlandish experience to stand in the shadow of a very grown-up building like the CNN building, in a very grown-up city like LA, and lick the maple syrup off your fingers, hand, elbow (?), and chin, like a 7 year old.

Yep, I guess not much has changed. Ladies, don't take pictures with your mouth full. A "chew shot" just is never flattering.


  1. For the record: "It was a tuna fish can and I was hanging a poster of Punky Brewster on your bedroom wall at your request....."
    Love, Dad

  2. Hey, I recognize the guy in that picture. You know, your dad? I met him this past weekend at the harvest festival in Sharon Springs NY. He is (and since I'm a complete stranger, I feel I can be objective) incredibly proud of you. In fact, he may have bought a present to ship out to you from a certain t-shirt vendor that he was talking to!

  3. "Enough quarters for the laundry..." Love it. And how can you look so cute wearing a basic t-shirt and shorts AND your mouth full?