A Travellerspoint blog

The "Eater of Bamboo"

A visit to the Woodley Park Zoo, Washington D.C.

80 °F
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I learned some interesting facts about the eating habits of the Giant Panda while I was visiting the Woodley Park Zoo in Washington D.C. this past weekend. Panda, which translates to "eater of bamboo" in Nepalese is a rather suitable name for an animal that can spend up to 16 hours a day consuming bamboo. Feel free to verify this information for yourself at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park website, I did! According to the website Giant Pandas spend an alarming 10-16 hours a day eating bamboo!! The reason for this is that Giant Pandas have an inefficient digestive system for digesting bamboo therefore causing most of the bamboo that is eaten to be passed through their bodies as well, you know. So in order to get enough nutrients they must consume about 20-40 pounds of bamboo a day!! Bamboo also makes up 99% of the Giant Panda's diet! Believe me, I wish I were joking, at least for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian's sake!

Even if I could choose to eat my absolute favorite food, ice cream, in any flavor I wanted for the rest of eternity while still being able to get all of the essential nutrients to maintain a healthy diet and not gain weight, I am guessing that I would be sick of ice cream within 6 months. At the absolute most, a year!! Let's see, Rocky Road for breakfast, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for lunch, maybe a little Coconut Pineapple for a late afternoon snack, and then top it all off with some Pecan Praline for dinner! However mouthwatering that may sound, and although I'm almost curious enough to test this out for myself, I am almost positive that my love for ice cream would soon diminish.


I find it rather unfortunate that Giant Pandas can't enjoy the selection of food that we humans take for granted daily. Bring on the Pad Thai or maybe a little Malaysia curry soup. I'll take Indian, Korean, Italian, Middle Eastern, or Costa Rican any day over fresh, crispy bamboo! Give me a gigantic Chipotle burrito with guacamole or a falafel and hummus whole wheat pita sandwich please!

Dear Giant Pandas,

I'm sorry that your taste buds will never experience anything outside the realm of bamboo. May you never know the true extent of the amount of sweet and savory flavors that fill the world, and more importantly your continent. And may your appetite for other food one day evolve so that you may enjoy all of the amazing food life has to offer.

~ Renee

Posted by ReneeL 23:21 Archived in USA Tagged food washington_dc giant_panda Comments (0)

Philly to D.C. Mini-Food Road Trip

Georgetown Cupcake ~ Mr. Yogato Frozen Yogurt ~ Sweetgreen ~ Washington D.C.

78 °F
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Being the frozen yogurt connoisseur that I am, with Yogurtland, Pinkberry, and Red Mango being at the top of my list, the idea of making a trip to Washington D.C. for the sole purpose of trying out a frozen yogurt store with an interesting marketing ploy peaked my curiosity.

I began my mini-adventure at Penn Station in New York with my first destination being Philadelphia aka "Philly." I had a very important interview scheduled for 10am and I desperately needed to land this job! Fingers crossed please!! Sometime after an enjoyable lunch at Marathon Grill in City Center, the Shrimp Capellini was to die for by the way, with my friend who initiated the whole Mr. Yogato frozen yogurt trip and some of his friends, we start on our way to D.C. with a friend of his that, coincidentally, also had an interview in Philly at 10am that morning.

Traffic was heavy, so the three of us stopped for a quick dinner at Chili's which I probably haven't eaten since I was 18 and had gained 15 pounds munching on chips and chili queso working at one of their restaurants located close to where I grew up, but at the present moment it sounded like our best option (surprising note: Chili's has teamed up with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the fight against childhood cancer! checkout their website for more info http://www.chilis.com/EN/Pages/home.aspx) and surprisingly it wasn't half bad.

During the five or so hour road trip through four states up to D.C. we were also informed by our host of a famous cupcake place, cleverly named Georgetown Cupcake, that we should try out during our mini D.C adventure. Interestingly, my all time favorite cupcake and introduction to the new era of "designer cupcakes" comes from a little cupcake place in Long Beach, California off 2nd Street called Frosted Cupcakery. I recall the unexpected heavenly sensation I felt as I sunk my teeth into one of their many, brilliantly decorated, delicious cupcakes. I also recall thinking "$2.95 for a cupcake!! Really, but it's just a cupcake!?!" Well, Frosted Cupcakery single handedly proved that a cupcake could indeed be worth $3 bucks! The were also responsible for making "The Cupcake" my second favorite choice in sweets falling second only to my all time favorite sweet, ice cream.

From where we were staying in Arlington, Virginia we had to catch a bus, 2 trains, and walk up and over a bridge to get to Georgetown. "Piece of cupcake," I thought after having bussed allover South America last year. Before we stumbled upon the infamous cupcake place we dropped by this cute little green house looking cafe called Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen wasn't a very description name, but after reading about the concept online it definitely suits! Here's their website www.sweetgreen.com. I strongly recommend that you check them out if you're ever in the D.C. area. Their philosophy is amazing and from my one experience so is their food! Fast, healthy, good food that is provided by an environmentally conscience company, go Sweetgreen!! I love the concept and the Santorini wrap was delicious!

As warned the line for Georgetown Cupcake was long. An hour or so later and $18 plus dollars poorer my friend and I walked out with a beautiful pink box with half a dozen minus 1 beautifully decorated cupcakes (we decided to eat the Red Velvet one with the cream cheese icing and a little decorative pink candy heart in house in celebration of conquering the hour plus line).


In the end we did finally make it to Mr. Yogato for some frozen yogurt on our way to the Greyhound bus station. Their concept as being "the FUNNIEST yogurt experience you'll ever have" was humorous and the yogurt was really good, but I think we were all a bit exhausted from the long weekend to make an "experience" out of our visit. Therefore, we enjoyed our yogurt quietly over a couple of cut throat games of Connect Four (I left with the "Connect Four" championship title) and continued on our merry way back to the Big Apple.

Posted by ReneeL 21:57 Archived in USA Tagged food new_york washington_dc cupcakes helping_out frozen_yogurt Comments (0)

Guy on the Street

Everyone Needs a Little Help Sometimes

sunny 90 °F
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There are so many men sitting along this street asking for help or asking for money. I walk down this street almost every other day. I never stop, I never give money. I always read their signs and try to understand what it is that they are asking for, but I never stop. One man I notice reads the paper and just sits there, almost out of place with a cup out and a sign. He strikes me as odd, almost as if he's too capable of a human being to be sitting there with a cup and a sign. So I wonder why, why is he sitting there and I want to ask, but I don't. I see him every time I pass by this street.

On this day, on this particular day I notice another guy. He's new. He's different. He sits cross-legged just like the guy that appears to be misplaced, but for some reason he seems different to me. He sits there with his head hung low and holds out his empty, dirty cup with both hands. He's abnormally thin and I pass by him like I do all the others, but then I stop, remembering my own hunger pains. I forgot to eat breakfast again today, or was it lunch? Either way I stop remembering a Lara bar I had seen in my purse. My favorite flavor peanut butter. I stop about a foot or 2 ahead of him and search my rather large purse for it. It takes some effort, but I know it's in there. I find it and turn to face the guy holding the cup with both hands. I haven't seen his face so I'm uncertain as to how he'll react to my gesture, but I continue anyways. I hesitate trying to figure out if it would be rude to place the bar in the cup so I gently tap him on the knee with the Lara bar. I say "I'm sorry," apologizing for only having a crumpled up Lara bar to offer, but that's all I had on me. He slowly lifts his head and his face explains it all. He was different. How he got there I don't know, but on this day, at this moment, he needed that bar.

Posted by ReneeL 19:55 Archived in USA Tagged buildings people food new_york helping_out Comments (0)

There's Nothing Like a Slice of New York Pizza

Pizza Plus NYC, 642 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10036

sunny 90 °F
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I always thought I was a Chicago "deep crust" pizza girl, with Gino's East being at the top of my favorites list, but I've been starting to understand the whole hype about New York pizza. A slice of plain cheese pizza topped off with some dried oregano folded in half, tilt your head, open wide, and here comes amazingness!! Well, not every slice of plain cheese pizza at every corner pizzeria, but at Pizza Plus NYC in Hell's Kitchen oh yeah, that's what happened. Amazing goodness all in one bite. And I'm not usually a fan of plain cheese pizza. It's kind of boring when faced with all of these amazing, colorful options. Tomatoes, fresh basil, artichoke hearts, spinach, broccoli, pepperoni, sausage, ham, mushrooms, you name it the list goes on and on.

Funny thing is that I didn't even know I was in the mood for pizza until I stopped and saw all of the colorful, fresh looking pies of pizza in the window. Now how could you turn that down, I couldn't. So, I wondered in. Casual atmosphere, friendly service, and a large flat screen TV playing the best of ABBA. Not my preference, but an interesting choice of music. But, most importantly, really, really good plain cheese pizza.


Another thing that also struck home with me and that I absolutely loved about Pizza Plus NYC were the signs stuck to the window, which I noticed on my way out. "Good Food Good Times Good Cheer" and "Come Hungry Leave Happy" and a sign saying that they donate a portion of each and every sale to Fountain House to help people with mental health issues. Great pizza, cool quotes, and doing their share to make the world a better place. They get 2 thumbs up in book!!

Posted by ReneeL 12:22 Archived in USA Tagged food new_york pizza Comments (0)

The Emotional Eater

Eating What Looks, Tastes, and Feels Good

sunny 90 °F
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I love food, period! Food is one of life's amazing creations. It brings people together. It brings friends and families together. You meet new people. You join old friends. You share a good laugh, sometimes some tears, you celebrate, listen, learn, get to know people better, and sometimes you just eat. I enjoy cooking, especially when I have company, but I love, love, love to eat out!! Especially cuisine I can't cook, or at least not yet.

I'm a bit confused as to what I would categorize myself as at the present moment. I'm not a vegan or vegetarian, a skinny bitch or omnivore or fast food junkie even though I can appreciate a good In-N-Out burger, fries, and a creamy chocolate shake. I guess I could argue that I'm a pescatarian of some sort, but not really. I try to stay away from dairy but continue to eat pizza weekly and can't seem to give up Pink Berry frozen yogurt. So currently I would just say I'm an emotional eater. I eat what looks good, what tastes good, and what feels good and I eat it pretty much the moment I crave it, well, unless it's french fries and then I try to give it a week before indulging just to make sure that's what my body's really craving.

So since I'm new in New York and I have been getting to know the city by way of food (and New York's a great place for food, just like Chicago was, just like Buenos Aires was, just like Los Angeles was, just like Brazil was...), here's a little something that you may or may not enjoy, that may or may not motivate you to indulge and enjoy one of life's greatest treats, food!

Posted by ReneeL 23:02 Archived in USA Tagged food new_york eatting andrew_zimmern Comments (1)

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