I’ve started and stopped this note to you more times than I care to admit. I believe what comes from the heart reaches the heart, so I wound up scrubbing every smartass column, every controversial take on culinary elitism, every emotional illustration on hunger, every revelatory essay on mental wellness, every confessional, every finely crafted heart wrenching story from a far-away land—all gone back in the file because, frankly, that’s what you’re going to get plenty of in the coming weeks and months. Welcome to Spilled Milk.
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You only have one chance at a first impression, so let me tell you a little bit about what we are building here: a community. And I know we can make it happen together. Here’s my plan. I’m not changing my website, social or culinary approach. I am, simply adding a cool new platform to my public-facing world. I love Substack. For years I have been trying to find a place to put my thoughts and feelings in essay form, cool new recipes I am working on, an audio component breaking down my own content and an honest discussion thread. That’s what this page and platform affords. And with Spilled Milk I get to go global. The essays will all be short-form content that reflects my thoughts on the places around the world that I miss (Lalomanu Beach in Samoa), am inspired by (Botswana), that challenge or provoke my understanding of the world (Cyprus), restaurants I think about every day (Cervejaria Ramiro in Lisbon), countries I think you need to see at some point real soon (Cuba) or locales you should spend a night in right now (the neighborhood near where you live that you don’t want to visit). This is a place to talk about the transformative power of travel, send a postcard from a city I love or rant about why the opener of fresh herring season in Holland is arguably my favorite week of the year.
So since this column moving forward will be about all of that, let me answer the biggest FAQ of my last 20 months: “Hey Andrew, has it been really hard on you not traveling to as many exotic places as you’re used to?”
Nope. My favorite place in the world is home. And I haven’t spent that much time there in 15 years.
But that’s not the whole story. I really do miss the long road. I miss going to the last stop on the subway, so to speak, and I believe the ends of the earth are simply the most fascinating and create the greatest change in who we become. The further away, the less ego we have—we become less obsessed with self, we take more risks, we ask questions, and so on. I think we learn more and export more of that healthy mindset/learning back into our lives when we return home. It’s how I grow as a human being.
While I treasured my time at home, I also had to find new ways to grow and be challenged. Some of that was trying to save and grow my businesses, my relationships, my sobriety…. I mean, contactless Zoom birthday parties for friends? What the fuck! Meetings on my computer—12 step meetings on my computer?? It just wasn’t the same. But be careful what you ask for, because the biggest changes and pain points came from a new parenting paradigm. Anyone with kids can relate. I am really excited to get into all of this and more when it’s applicable on these pages. Suffice to say the greatest opportunities for my own personal growth came courtesy of my son. It’s all about patience, tolerance and understanding. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much on some days.
Some fast thoughts, because when I am on the road it isn’t always caviar dreams. See what I did here? Fast thoughts. Get it?
· Jersey Mike’s or Jimmy John’s? Not even close, Mikes. C’mon now. #13, the Original Italian, extra hot peppers, Mike’s way.
· Most overrated fast fooder? No contest, In & Out. I don’t get the obsessive love for this place. And they have the worst fries on planet Earth. I don’t like to yuck on your yum but even the double-double animal style doesn’t live up the hype.
· Most underrated? Culver’s. Hands down. Superb everything and always fresh/hot/flavorful. And the custard. Can’t be beat.
· KFC or Popeyes? I used to be a KFC guy, but the chicken and the sides at Popeyes are better in 2021. Even in airports.
· Chipotle, Qdoba and all the rest of the burrito mafia: PLEASE learn to fill a tortilla . Fillings don’t go down in splooshes! They need to be layered laterally so when you eat it you get small bits of everything in each bite. I don’t want to take a bite of beans, and then two bites of salsa, then three bites of chicken followed by two of cheese. Drives me nuts.
· Salad folks: Bless you for the healthy alternatives. But quinoa? Really? Can we do other healthy ancient grains, please? Thank you for your consideration. And please taste all your dressings. Some just aren’t good.
· Crystal Ball: Panera has always been a great idea to me and has always failed to live up to their potential. Now that Danny Meyer is on board, look for Panera to finally deliver on their simple premise. Trust me on this one.
So, there it is, that’s what you will find more of here every week. Unvarnished and certainly nothing to cry over. Hope you enjoy your Spilled Milk.
I think next time, we go to Cyprus. Or L.A. Maybe both.
See you soon,