Durham/Asheville Road Rules

| March 19, 2012

“Belly full… butt drunk.”

This Liberian vernacular expression may explain the love of food, and belly busting laughter that Belinda and I share in common. “Butt drunk” describes the deliciously intoxicating moment that follows a well-prepared meal. It first sets in when rolling and raucous laughter replaces the dull roar of clanging forks and knives. It’s a contagious, hysterical, nonsensical, altered state that can last sometimes for several hours. When Belinda and I come together to plot a potential “foodie” adventure, we often wind up “butt drunk,” inevitably proving that neither one of us knows where the brakes are on the food bus, or how to use them.

When I left Virginia a few weekends ago to visit Belinda, I knew that this would be an extraordinary adventure. As I readied to hit the road, Belinda swore up and down that the drive from VA to Durham takes 3.5 hours (it’s more like a 5hr trip). I loaded my bike into the car with the promise that a sunny 70-degree day awaited in Asheville, perfect for the leisurely ride we had planned through the Biltmore gardens. In reality, Belinda’s forecast failed to predict that Asheville’s cool mountain climate would be overcast and windy. Perpetually optimistic, bubbly, and full of life, Belinda herself is a well-known force of nature. From her perspective, neither imperfect weather nor geographic realities could pose any obstacle to our fun, food-loving excursion. Two cities in two days was quite a tall order for a weekend road trip; however, the opportunity test drive local, artisanal foods of Durham and Asheville seemed too good to pass by. Gratefully, Belinda, my lovely guide to the local foodie scene was happy to indulge me in this action-packed adventure.

In fact, this was not the first time that we had gone the extra mile in search new foods and flavors. Some years before, we had canvassed the DC restaurant scene in a single week and in all honesty had gotten a little lost in the process. In one week we trucked our way through Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan’s by night, and tackled the better part of K Street lunch hot spots by day. By the week’s end, an ill-fated trip to the Melting Pot, followed by a skirt-splitting episode in Tenleytown left us feeling kind of queasy, slightly disoriented, and I could only wonder whether a good seamstress could sew the split seams on my favorite pencil skirt back together again. It was at that point that we knew our flirtation with food had turned into a fatal attraction (indecent exposure included), and we needed some radical changes…. and fast!

In hindsight, going too far in pursuit of good food was actually a blessing in disguise. After that experience, we both set down different paths that led us to learn the art of moderation. In the beginning, the pendulum swung a little too far left – and we went from indulging in fondue and flambé, to weeklong fasts and detoxing the Master Cleanse way. Eight years later however, I continue to regularly fast, cleanse, and eat meat sparingly. Even more shocking however is that Belinda, following a stint working on an organic farm, has gone one step further and recently adopted a more-vegan lifestyle. The revelation that Belinda is a borderline vegan is almost heresy from a girl whose most famous words of introduction are “I don’t eat vegetables.” These changes in our daily habits and movement towards conscious eating show some expansion and growth in some areas of our food loving hearts… right? This two-day trip was so much more than a long awaited reunion between old friends; it was an opportunity to test-drive our new-found attitudes towards food, and do so while taking to the road.

In all honesty, when we set out for Asheville Saturday morning, we didn’t really have any hard and fast set of rules in mind. If fact, had we written down rules before we embarked on the trip, I am 100% certain we would have rebelled and intentionally set out to break them. Instead, we took a relaxed approach and let our instincts be our guide. Our changing approaches to food became clearer in hindsight when by the end of the trip when we felt exhausted yet satisfied, buoyed however by the realization that just a taste could be as satisfying as a clean plate. To keep things light, healthy, and fun, we intuitively abided by the following “rules of the road:”

Road Rules:
1. Drink Lots of Water: We brought ample liquids with us before we set out on the road. I drank mint tea and coffee (well… I drank what was left of the coffee that hadn’t ended up in my lap) before breakfast while Belinda drank herbal tea.
2. Snack Healthy: A quart of fresh grapes and Whole Foods mini lemon poppy seed scones were close at hand. Perhaps the scones were not the healthiest option but a little splurge here and there doesn’t hurt a bit.
3. Take Frequent Breaks: Even if it is just to get out of the car, stretch, and enjoy a breath of fresh air.
4. Two of our best and most unexpected finds, Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, and Scratch Bakery in Durham came to us as recommendations from locals and friends. Always ask shopkeepers, passersby, and sales people for restaurant recommendations. After all, they know the local food scene much better than you do.
5. Go With The Flow: If you do indulge in a little sweet or salty treat while on the road that deviates from your short list of nutrient rich or super foods, just relax and enjoy it. There will always be another opportunity to bring your taste buds back into a healthy balance, it’s more important to be open to new experiences and have a little fun.

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Category: Communities, Featured, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Piedmont NC, Travel & Culture, US & Canada

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  1. Sommer says:

    Hey I live in Asheville! Wish we could have met up. 🙂

  2. vianney says:

    Great review and tips. I have always wnated to visit asheville!!

  3. Belinda says:

    I can hardly think of a better road trip buddy! Boy do I remember the Melting Pot…how far we’ve come. Great tips!! And…healthier eating can STILL get us “belly full”…and definitely, “butt drunk.”