Meet Justin, a 27 year old teacher and photographer from California, USA; the place that brought you Hollywood, Google and The Beach Boys. He writes an amazing blog showcasing his photography that I recommend checking out. Justin and I met in the last weeks of my living in Thailand. Everyone else was working full-time, but I’d stopped teaching and was trying to get my things in order before I flew on, and since Justin wasn’t teaching either, we spent most of my last fortnight enjoying lazy late lunches, drinking beer in Lop Buri and cycling around Ayutthaya on decrepit old rental bikes. Justin also put up with quite a lot of agonising and a fair amount of crying from me whilst I said goodbye to everything, for which I am eternally grateful!
Famous for things like juice fasting and nutty fads like the maple syrup and cayenne pepper diet, Justin gave me his perspective on California cuisine, which was pretty delicious.
Which part of California are you from?
I am from Fullerton, a city in Orange County, California.
Is there a food that’s particular to there?
The California Burrito. It’s a carne asada burrito loaded with french fries. It’s typically not on any menu, but is almost always available at any authentic taco spot if you ask for it by name!
So what’s key to an authentic Californian meal?
In Southern California, we like our food nice and spicy, so a good salsa is key to any meal.
Tell me about your favourite dish from home. Is there a special time or place that you eat it?
Elotes! Elote is corn-on-the-cob usually sold by Mexican street vendors from a shopping cart. They honk a horn as they’re walking down the street & when you hear the horn, you go running outside so you don’t miss them!
What you normally drink with it?
Corona or Orange Fanta.
What’s the vegetarian situation like in California? Is it common?
So it would be a pretty easy place for a vegetarian to travel through then?
I think it would be pretty easy to be vegetarian here. There are lots of options.
Do you think there are particular areas that it would be easier for a veggie to travel in than others?
Southern California, as a whole, is very diverse in terms of culinary offerings. There really is something for everyone here.
If I came to visit, what’s the number 1 food and drink to try as a veggie?
That’s a tough one as I’m pretty much a carnivore. If I were to make some recommendations, I would say go to Pieology. They’re an up-and-coming pizza place where you stand in a line and select your own toppings in a similar fashion to Subway and Chipotle and they cook it for you on the spot. Aside from that, I would suggest trying to find your favorite dish from home because chances are we have a variation of it with some California flair.
If you want to have a go at making elotes for yourself, they’re fairly straightforward and yes, they are delicious!
One thing I’ve discovered is that if you buy corn still in the leaves and then strip them back, but don’t pull them off, they make a great rustic-looking handle. Much easier than stabbing yourself trying to stick a skewer up it’s tough bottom.
- Grill your corn until the kernels are tender and golden.
- Spread it evenly with mayonnaise.
- Roll the corn in the grated Parmesan.
- Sprinkle with chilli powder.
For this and other great vegetarian/vegan recipes, check out the Forking Off Website.