I travel for food.
As much as I love to see new places, I love to eat new things even more.
During the process of planning a trip, I usually compose an itinerary. Like a normal person.
My itinerary consists of every place I want to eat, and every item I plan to order. Minor details such as where to sleep and how to get from place to place are usually the last things to be decided. The hotel and transportation are better left in the hands of someone who doesn’t think in doughnuts and crepes.
I am also a bit of a control freak (my husband will be glad that I’ve finally admitted that) so when I was presented with the opportunity to visit Detroit with a group of people that had already planned all of the meals and activities, I was skeptical.
What if I don’t want to eat what they tell me to eat? (Yeah, I’m that girl.)
But boy, was I wrong.
Everything I ate during my trip to Detroit was the best thing I had ever eaten. Over and over again.
From perfectly plated fancy meals to barbecued ribs fresh off of the grill along the street to tomatoes and peppers straight from the vine, each bite made me fall more and more in love with this great city.
Detroit has one of the largest farmer’s markets in the nation, meaning that they have some of the freshest most delicious produce readily available. Detroit knows what tomatoes should taste like.
The farmers market was so large, it took nearly an hour to wander through it entirely, and then another hour to try all of the samples they were handing out. The most impressive part of the farmers market was not how large it was, but how many of the vendors were operating on small plots of land rather than huge hundred-acre farms.
Detroit is a land of urban farming. Where abandoned houses once stood are now small, family-run farms.
Rather than letting old homes deteriorate, the people of Detroit have turned eyesores into profitable businesses. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a tour of one man’s farm followed by breakfast made from the land we were standing on, which was impressive in so many ways.
The land they were operating on was only one acre, packed with more produce than I could even begin to try and remember the names of. They had chickens running around working as pest control, a fantastic sprinkler system, a greenhouse for their tomatoes, and rows and rows of different salad greens. All in their back yard.
I couldn’t keep a plant alive if my life depended on it. I am living proof that it is possible to kill a cactus. Maybe if I bought some chickens and installed an awesome sprinkler system…
The difference between the urban farmers of Detroit and I, is that they are much more motivated and dedicated to making things work, and they aren’t afraid to get down and dirty to get there.
Where the Coney dogs and White Castle leave much to be desired, Slow’s makes up for it, and then some. Everything we tried from their menu was fantastic. The meat was melt in your mouth delicious, I could have eaten my body weight in their macaroni and cheese. And their desserts… don’t even get me started on their desserts. If you’re ever in Detroit, go there. And eat everything.
One more thing that took me by surprise was how unbelievably friendly the people of Detroit are. Every single person was genuinely interested in why we had decided to visit Detroit of all places, a city that has a reputation for being dangerous and run-down. And while there are certainly some areas of Detroit that I would prefer not to venture into during the dark hours of the night, most of it was beautiful and inspiring.
One such place was Bert’s Marketplace which holds a karaoke party in the back of their restaurant every Saturday for locals to come and eat great barbecue, drink beer, sing and enjoy each other’s company throughout the day. We sat out in front of the restaurant chatting with the owner, Tony, as he was manning the grill, and telling him how much we had enjoyed Detroit, how our idea of the city had drastically changed and that we were already making plans to return in the near future for a longer period of time. With a tear in his eye, Tony thanked us for giving Detroit a chance, handed us an overflowing plate of ribs, chicken, and sausage, gave us a big hug and told us he loved us.
That, my friends, is what food and community is about.