The Book Tour

Do you know what this is?

peanutbutterparis.jpg

It’s my almost-empty peanut butter jar, which means I’m just about due for a trip back to the United States of America…I’ll be on The Book Tour!
The good part of The Book Tour is that I get to meet lots of people who bake from my books and read my blog.

This is what I’ll be doing the rest of the time…

1. 6:47 am: Wake up.

2. Figure out what city I’m in.

3. Search for remote control buried under covers and turn on TV.

4. Remove eyemask and earplugs.

5. Get out of bed and mentally think about trying to find a place nearby for breakfast that won’t set me back $37.85 (ie: the overpriced hotel dining room) for two eggs, imitation-butter-slathered toast, soggy home fries with lots of freaky-colored paprika added for no reason but to try to make them look more ‘gourmet’ but in fact they look scary and gross, and watery orange juice. Bottomless cup of coffee is $4.75 extra…since they know you’re going to order it anyways…why not overcharge?
Thankfully it’s bottomless, since you need to drink four cups before you feel anything resembling a caffeine jolt. And it comes with those little plastic containers of half-and-half that have the consistency of house paint. (Isn’t it cheaper, and better, to give you fresh milk? And who the hell uses half-and-half anymore?)

6. Reconsider staying in my hotel room and making coffee in the provided coffee-maker adding powdered-milk substitute.

7. Find nearby Starbucks. Figure out their stupid size-system that makesabsolutely no sense and just sounds pretentious and I can’t bring myself to ask for something vente when I just want a medium-sized coffee with a bit of milk. Grab a puffy, super-sized Apple-Blueberry-Cranberry Streusel Bagel and bottle of icky-green Odwalla Power Juice intended for menstruating women and head back to the room to watch Diane Sawyer interview some actress who shaved her head for a movie role.

8. Eat breakfast and switch channel to Good Morning, Springfield. Weathergal Jenni Johnanssen is interviewing a 107-year old grandma about her needlepoint fetish. Some vitally important news about Katie Holmes baby, which everyone still assumes is a product of Tom Cruise. Change channels to QVC. At least they’re honest about what they’re selling.

9. Shower and shave. Pack up clothes from night before. Smell socks and decide to throw them away. Briefly feel bad for the housekeeper, leave her $3, and wheel my luggage out the door.

10. Get down to desk and realize I forgot my shirt hanging in closet. Go back up to the now-smelly room, find out room key needs to be re-set and I need to go back downstairs to the desk and there’s now a line. Of course the person in front of me is having a problem with his credit card while simultaneously carrying on a cell phone conversation with a business associate who is probably in the next room.

11. Explain to the bellhop that I don’t need help (ie: $3) with my little carry-on suitcase.

12. Try to get someone to explain how to get to airport.
No one knows.
No one even seems to know how to get around the city they live in. Much disagreement at the hotel front desk about how to get to the airport but after a little conference amongst them, they draw me a rudimentary map
(Don’t people ask them that all the time? Why don’t they just have a photocopied map with directions?)
Go outside but can’t figure out which rental car in the parking lot is mine since they all look exactly alike. Eventually find mine, distinguishable by the York Peppermint Patty wrappers on the floor. Discover Palm Pilot is frozen and fused to the vinyl front seat.

As I’m turning onto the highway, realize I left my only razor in the bathroom and I forgot to shave.

13. Drive to airport in morning rush hour listening to Howard Stern interview identical-twin lesbians about their silicone implants which their stepfather bought them for their 16th birthdays.
Get stuck in traffic and realize that I have no idea where I’m going but it doesn’t really matter since I can’t move anyways. Watch drivers applying make-up, reading newspapers, picking their noses (they stop immediately when they see I’m looking and pretend they’re scratching their noses), and eating KFC breakfast burritos.

14. See sign for airport, find a gas station to fill up the car, and pray I don’t get shot. Drop off rental car, answer lots of stupid questions intended to try to get me to pay more money.

15. Get to airport and gasp at long line snaking around check-in.

16. Get in line and gasp when realize I need to use the bathroom.

17. Get out of line.
Find bathroom. Go in stall. Consider crying.

Reconsider that at 46 years old, I shouldn’t be crying. Go to bathroom instead.

18. Check-in, find gate and wait while some idiot yells on his cell phone to his business associate. Change seats and sit next to woman wearing a good bottle-and-a-half of horrid perfume, reading Real Simple magazine and dog-earing pages. I read a USA Today that someone left behind.
Not much news, but there sure are a lot of pretty colors.

19. Get on plane, decline the vile coffee, and fly to next city. Eat the apple that’s fallen to the bottom of my shoulder bag, resting in the detritus at the bottom along with an uncapped Sharpie and find my last, long-lost Ambien.

20. Pick up rental car. Listen while they try to talk me into all sorts of things that triple the price. I decline. Grave predictions are made by the rental car rep.
Feel guilty. Buy insurance.

21. Drive around new city in Chevy Cavalier (“Would anyone really buy this model of car?“, I think to myself.) Find hotel. (Getting better at this. I only got lost twice.) Fend off bell-hop that wants to help me with my little carry-on (ie: $3). Desk clerk tells me there’s no reservation under my name. Call cooking school. Tell desk clerk to re-check. Desk clerk finds reservation. Room isn’t ready. Won’t be ready until 3 pm. It’s now 10:30am and I’m in a strange city in the middle of nowhere.
Look for bathroom, sit in stall.

Cry.

22. Ask at front desk about a good restaurant nearby for lunch. They suggest TGIFridays, Bennigans, Cracker Barrel, or Paneria. (My cunning strategy of asking, “Where can I get something fresh for lunch?” invariably makes them draw a blank.)

23. Eat The World’s Largest Chicken Salad with Country Ranch Dressing (on the side) served on a pile of deep-fried noodles which I intend to pick away (but actually they taste pretty good even though I know they’re really bad for you) accompanied by The World’s Largest Glass of Iced Tea in a glass with more ice than Antarctica. There’s barely room for tea.

I drink my iced tea shivering, wondering why in the middle of December the air-conditioning seems to be operating at full blast.

Waitress asks me at minimum of three times, “How is everything?”
I want to answer, “Please leave me alone.”, but I’m too polite and I know she’s just doing her job, so I say, “Fine, thanks…” (…but please stop pouring more ice tea whenever I take a sip from my glass!)

24. Go to room, which smells like pine deodorizer. Unpack fresh socks and undershorts. Realize I don’t have any more fresh undershorts. Decide to multitask: take warm bubble bath while washing undies. Listen to television “news” about Maddox Jolie’s hair and complaints about how expensive gas is in America.
No one mentions the war.

Stop at Walgreen’s to get new razor. Am transfixed by the shampoo aisle. What does someone do when faced with a choice of 87 different kinds of shampoo? I am paralyzed with indecision and wonder at Walgreen’s, and leave with my razor and two York Peppermint Patties.
And Teen People magazine.

25. Find cooking school and meet the assistants who are lots of fun and enthusiastic. I suggest they wear nametags since within seconds after they tell me their names, I’ve forgotten them, and from then on have to pretend I remember their names.
I barely remember mine at this point.

26. Set up for class. Guests arrive. Teach a fun Chocolate Class. Great class and only one person tells me they’re allergic to chocolate. No one asks “How do you stay so thin? or “Why do you live in France?” (er“…watch the news lately?) or “What do you think about low-carb chocolate?” (See previous question, Why I Live in France…there’s no such thing as low-carb chocolate!) or “Are French people really rude?” (Um, yes some of them are, but I guess since no one is rude in America it’s quite a shock.)

People laugh at my jokes and like everything I make.
Sign books and chat with guests.
Buy a few things at the store before I leave.

Realize I’ve spent most of my teaching fee buying kitchen tools.

27. Go back to my hotel. Realize I’m starving and haven’t had anything to eat since lunch eleven hours ago. Ask at front desk where I can get something to eat. They recommend TGIFridays, Bennigans, Cracker Barrel, or Paneria. (I give up asking for fresh. Too optimistic.) And I’m too cheap to order the room service soggy club sandwich for $23 and the glass of wine for $12 (I’ll need at least 2), plus 20% service charge and the $3 room delivery fee and $5 tip they’ll inevitably linger around waiting for.

28, Take a hot shower in a bathroom with the World’s Greatest Water Pressure. God I love America.
I vow never to return to Paris.

29. Peel off poly-fiber bed covering and slide in bed. Prop myself up with every pillow available in the room, including cushions from the sofa. Turn to HBO and find a late-night show about strippers in the San Fernando Valley. More than one looks like Mariah Carey. Oh wait, that is a Mariah Carey video. Brief and miscellaneous skin shots keep me from flipping channels until I can’t take it anymore and turn it off.

30. 3 am. Try to sleep.

31. 4 am. Realize I can’t sleep.

32. 4:30 am: I need to be up in 2 hours.

33. 4:35 am: Can’t find my last Ambien. Take an Excedrin PM.

34. 5:15 am. Fall asleep.

35. 6:54 am. Wake up.

Realize I have a plane to catch at 9:15 am and I have no idea where I am.
See socks lying on floor by television and spilled bottle of Excedrin PM.

Pull the covers back over my head. Search for remote.

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21 comments

  • Don’t go to SBUX. Find the nearest independent coffeehouse in each city and go there.

    Looking forward to your appearance in Kirkland, WA!

    Best to you,
    Steph

  • David – you have to write either a book about your cooking class travels or get “the New Yorker” interested in publishing your travel cooking class “diary.” It’s well-written, fresh, truthful, to the point, and oh so funny and so sad at the same time that one wants to hug you and cry with you and cuddle you and say “there, there, it will all be all right.” Be well, travel safely. Big hugs – John

  • ahhhhh…….the joy of being famous!
    Have fun, we’ll be ‘here’ when you get back!

  • David – I so wish I could come to one of your cooking classes. What can I do to convince you to come to a place like New York? (You know, a place where a poor college kid can take a class from you.) I hate to think I’ll have to move just to be in proximity.

  • Wow. Someone’s been in france too long.

  • You make being a superstar sound so glamorous.

  • Hilariously funny. I’m not a famous food person, but I’ve done just enough business travel to relate to a lot of this. Ambien is wonderful for travel. I never leave home without it.

  • When people ask me why I don’t come and teach in the states more.. I will just send them to your blog!
    When I took my husband with me once, when he picked me up at class at 9pm, I was starving and we still have an hour to get back to my mom’s where I was staying ( my double tasking, seeing mom and teaching) I stopped for some food at Jack’s or one of the drive through’s) He was shocked and said aren’t you afraid that one of your students will see you?

    NOT!
    Take a deep breath and have a great trip.
    I admire your courage!

  • Darn, too bad you’re not going anywhere near me. Otherwise, I’d give you a jar of homemade peanut butter. Oh, and you forgot some other lovely restaurants that hotel clerks will probably suggest: Olive Garden and Applebee’s!

  • Hooray! you’re coming to Fort Worth! I sure hope I can come… I just came back from a business trip in NYC and the GPS that the rental agency wants to upsell you on is totally worth it. Or maybe you could rent or borrow one for the whole tour. You just put in where you want to go and it tells you how to get there! It probably doesn’t work everywhere, but pretty handy.

  • Ooooo! You’re going to be in my neighborhood! I’ll see if I can make it to your appearance in Newport Beach. We’ll see though, I’m on a plane the next day for Tokyo. : )

  • People, save the soldier David! Give him the names and addresses of the nicest places where to have fresh food and a healthy breakfast in the cities he will visit! And do not forget links to jpegs of precise maps, so that he can print them before leaving!

  • I suggest David search chowhound.com before he ventures out into the light. Chowhound is proof that not everyone in America thinks Applebies is haute cuisine (contrary to european belief).

  • have a good tour david, and will continue to read this blog even if i haven’t yet met you before! :)

  • Well David, you are quite a guy !!!! One question, TEEN PEOPLE ???????? WHAT DID I MISS ?????? I love your yummy Chocolate Matzoh recipe VERY ADITIVIVE! BONSOIRE MON PIETTE CHAMPION

  • Chris: Chowhound is good (although you have to wade through lots of stuff to get to what you want) but unfortunately I don’t have much time to drive to somewhere not close to my hotel.

    Jen: I love GPS! I had it in my last car and swear by it. The only problem is only 1 or 2 rental agencies offer it and I don’t make my own car reservations.

    Janis: Yes, I need to read Teen People. You can’t believe how lacking the news is here in Europe. It’s all about economics, global warming and climate issues, natural disasters, the never-ending war in Iraq, and socio-political unrest. There’s never any real news about such important topics and Jessica and Nick’s marriage or Tara Reid’s nightclub antics or the Olsen Twins fabulous ability to ‘dress-down’.

    Jessica: Yum! Homemade peanut butter!

    Steph: I’m not a huge fan of Starbuck’s but in the middle of nowhere, that green mermaid is a welcome relief from diner coffee that’s been sitting on the warming burner for a few hours, simmering away in the Bunn glass coffee pot.

  • Oh the life of a famous traveling author….such glamour…and I’m with Janis – Teen People?!?! do we need to do an intervention? ;-)

  • Here are a few places in Newport Beach area
    -good stuff

    PETE’S COFFEE(same center as the Sur La Table)
    Better than Starbucks!
    HAKATA RAMEN/SHINSENGUMI- Fountain Valley
    (15minutes from Corona Del Mar)
    Same owners Shinsengumi is for
    yakitori VERY authentic. Southern Japan
    cuisine. web below
    http://www.5minutesite.com/browse/vpui0000950.php
    18315 Brookhurst St., #1
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    RESTAURANT ABE (Sushi)-(Newport Beach)
    My mom (japanese)raves about this place.
    2900 Newport Blvd
    Newport Beach, CA 92663-3726
    (949) 675-1739
    GREAT DANE BAKERY
    (Huntington Beach 20 min from Newport Beach)
    6855 Warner Ave.
    Huntington Beach, CA 92647
    BLACK MARKET BAKERY (Irvine 10 min from NB)
    Eclectic Funky Bakery a little bit of rock n
    roll
    949-852-4609
    blackmarketbakery.com
    Rachel Klemek (CIA )

  • This made me laugh out loud in the Humanities office of the school where I teach. Everyone turned her head and stared at me. How dare I be having this much fun this early in the morning!

    Love this, David. And I just can’t wait to take you class, here in Seattle. (all right, of course, it’s actually Kirklan.) If you need any advice about decent places to eat and grab coffee, let me know!

  • David,
    Any chance you’ll be in New England during your tour? Would love to see you. Being in Providence now, we’re pretty close to all places Eastern seaboard.
    I have been traveling a lot with my new not-in-a-restaurant but still-food-related job and I cracked up at your traveling tales…so so true!
    I hope you are well and again, would love to see you.

    Big hugs,
    Jennifer Cox

  • Hi David,

    While I can’t offer alternatives to Starbucks and Cracker Barrel in all cities, my husband and I just got back from Portland and I can offer some fantastic alternatives.

    Pick up a copy of Eat.Shop.Portland, I believe a new edition just came out. For coffee, go to Stumptown Coffee Roasters. One of the best cups of coffee I have ever had… really. Plenty of great restaurants in Portland – 3 Doors Down, Noble Rot, Castagna or Cafe Castagna.

    And as a great hotel alternative, stay at the Kennedy School. The McMenamins brothers have bought many properties in OR and WA, and the Kennedy School is a renovated elementary school with chalkboards in classrooms, a great restaurant, 3 bars, a movie theatre, an outdoor heated soaking tub… need I say more? We stayed for almost a week there, and it was one of the most vibrant hotels we’ve ever stayed in. Cancel the reservation that you have in Portland and stay there, you won’t regret it!

    Have a good tour! I’m in the NYC area so we won’t see you this trip.

    Best,

    Samantha