With negotiations and consultations now behind him, Diplomonkey hits the road to Florida by dawn’s early light. Thanks to United Airline’s really nice counter person at Reagan (DCA), who went out of her way to help, Diplomonkey catches his Orlando via Newark flight. The logistics of going north to go south are just astounding.
In Newark, Diplomonkey gets to double dip; he gets both his Starbucks fix and salivates over Gallaghers’ meaty, 21-day old dry aged USDA prime beef slabs on display. Although torturous, this is nothing less than a favorable omen for such a nomadic, unrepentant carnivore.
Cheerfully boarding his southbound flight, Diplomonkey catches up on Top Gear episodes, orders a Tapas box and red wine; ah life is good. But Diplomonkey knows all to well that the respite at 35,000 feet is short-lived, for it marks the start of ten straight days of twelve-hour plus workdays.
Reaching Mickey Mouse country, Orlando for the uninitiated in all things Disney, Diplomonkey heads off to one of Florida’s largest cattle ranches. Here he meets astoundingly gentle giants which act more like pampered farm dogs than thousand pound plus medium-frame young bulls. They also crap prolifically, much like their extinct Aurochs forebears, so mind your step, and theirs when around them.
Avoiding being crushed by these beasties, as well as not stepping in their poop, is no small matter. It builds up a hearty appetite for, do I dare say…beef. But lo and behold, there is no beef for Diplomonkey that night since he dillydallies at the ranch immersed in the talk of cattle.
So poor Diplomonkey eases his hunger that evening with something other than beef. He ambles à la John Wayne into the first late night open eatery available and orders the special – all you can eat pork ribs, as well as quench his thirst with well-chilled Yuengling beer (from America’s oldest brewery, of course).
Diplomonkey volunteers to his traveling companions that he is courageously taking one for the team; to prove that there is no trichinae in the U.S. pork. The sacrifices we make. Thank you, please I will have some more Porky Pig.
Travel to Madison, Wisconsin via Detroit (DTW), the latter of which has a great, animal friendly airport, follow visits to Orlando and Gainesville. For those that have served in the Middle East and traveled with four-legged hairy buddies, this sort of attention is always a big deal. But old Diplomonkey, who misses family and dog, digresses.
Early morning meetings follow a midnight arrival in Madison, as well a visit to the Wisconsin World Dairy Expo. Again Diplomonkey sees spectacular animals and meets wonderful people. But the hunger for beef grows by the minute; bananas are just not quite doing it for him any longer.
So with his erstwhile companions in tow, Diplomonkey heads out that evening in search of animal protein matter, preferably bovine. Across from the state capitol, at Madison’s Old Fashion restaurant, Diplomonkey comes across one of the best burgers and fries that he has ever had and to top it off great local IPA.
In the course of the evening not only does Diplomonkey convert his South American pilsner drinking traveling companions to the wonders of American IPA, but also exposes them to that great American spirit known as bourbon – yes, culinary diplomacy at its finest.
Departing Madison for Texas fortified by beef, excellent IPA, and outfitted in a new green John Deere cap, as well as with some great hometown Landjäger sausage in his pack, Diplomonkey is oh so happy.
Greeted in the late evening by Houston’s Moonwaker, Diplomonkey’s travel through the great state of Texas is a blur; one day in Houston followed by another in Madisonville and then two nights in College Station before returning once again to Houston.
But the hunger for beef remains, one that cannot be satiated by salmon or pork chops no matter how delicious. Where is my sirloin, my rib-eye steak, how about my Texas brisket?
Diplomonkey discovers that just outside of College Station, stands the town of Snook, home of Sodolak’s Original Country Inn and its Texas size steaks and burgers. One of the companions, Andy, in all honestly went to Texas A&M and recommended that we stop here to partake of excellent, bountiful, and affordable steaks. Coming off the farm from late evening meetings, we barely beat the closing time clock and place our orders.
From Andy’s build up, Diplomonkey realized that this would not be a ramen noodle sort of night, but rather an orgy of beef. The small sirloin steak (let’s call her Texas Lucy, heifer flesh always taste better if it has a name) weighs in alone at nineteen ounces. And for good measure, a can of ice-cold Lone Star beer makes Lucy’s taste all that better.
Steak, two sides, Texas toast and local beer plus tip, came out to less than twenty-five bucks. Proof positive that life on per diem is possible if you know how to look. They advertise orders to go; dreamily Diplomonkey wonders if the delivery area could include Peru.
Texas A&M, like the state of Texas, is a huge but friendly place. Diplomonkey sees state of the art teaching and processing facilities, meets wonderful, capable professionals and academics. The Rosenthal Meat Center’s beef, pork, and lamb offerings, especially the summer football sausage sorely tempts Diplomonkey with its fleshy bounty. Unfortunately Diplomonkey has no way to transport any frozen or chilled meat back to Lima – next time he will come better prepared.
So pleased is Diplomonkey with his Texas A&M visit, that despite being a Hoya, he caves in and buys Aggies memorabilia for the little dudes. Sorry wifie and other fellow Hoyas, just in case the kiddies one day decide to go study agricultural economics and eat beef out there.
In any, case, that evening Texas brisket Bambi follows her rib-eye steak little sister (that’s Ms. Betsy) devoured earlier by Diplomonkey at lunchtime. A truly memorable occasion scouting out animals for export.