Orlando

I know this is a food blog, but this honestly couldn’t be avoided.
It’s been just over a week since the Orlando LGBTQ club shooting took place, wounding over 100 and killing 50. A week ago I was at a vigil with thousands of others outside the Stonewall in NYC, a gay bar with a historic past of pride, protest, and pain. I, like many others, came to mourn and commune with my people, to find an outlet for my confusion, pain, and anger. Mostly anger. I’m over the whole indignation and surprise routine, it would be inauthentic in a country that sees such regular and daily gun violence. Kumbayah, hold hands, and cry/hug by the campfire. I can’t anymore, it’s an empty gesture. It’s embarrassing to mourn such a preventable atrocity publicly, like leaving the oven on and burning the whole neighborhood down.
It kinda feels false and contrived to cry over people I never knew personally, but I mourn them none the less. In such a tight knit group as the LGBTQ community, where years of persecution and oppression have bound us together tightly, I feel like I do know them and their suffering, their fears, their joys. Coming out as a young lesbian at 13 in a southern bible belt state was shitty. People were shitty. People ARE shitty. But between Modern Family and Ellen DeGeneres being so mainstream, I just must have drank the Koo-laid and believed that the age of homophobia and systemic abuse were in their dying hours. RIP, you motherfucker. Should I have opened my eyes, seen the never ending race fight, and known better, been wiser? Sure. Hindsight is 20/20 the grass is always greener and all that fucking nonsense.
It feels like we’ve come so far. I’m young for the equality fight, a privilaged millennial, so maybe since I wasn’t there for all of it my view of the struggle is more distorted than I realized. I know it was hard fought, but I unknowingly claimed a premature victory.  We’re not equal, we’re still others to the normal, tentatively allowed abominations at best.
I don’t think many straight people realize the unspoken recognition and brotherhood of the gay community. We look for each other on the streets, meeting each other with prolonged eye contact and head nods, desperate for the recognition of a fellow gay. If you’re a member of the community, you probably know. The secret glances, our silent screams pronouncing “yes, I too hold membership to the rainbow club that you also clearly are a card carrying member of. Yaas, Robyn is my bitch. All praise the plaid squad, born this way, amen.”
I’d love to say I feel cleansed or healed through communion with my gay brethren and our supporters but I’m not. I’d love to tell you how the worldwide out pour of support softened my heart and renewed my faith in humanity as a whole. But it didn’t. If anything I’m angrier, more resentful, borderline belligerent. Pugnacious. Maybe even hateful. I see the empty words of contrite politicians and acquaintances, grandiose statements meant to illicit permission or acceptance from the gay community to continue on with their thinly veiled homophobia sans guilt. “SORRY UR GAYZ DIED BUT UR ALL GOING 2 HELL SO… “
You can’t, as fucking Ted Cruz did, call LGBTQ rights leaders “jihadists” out to destroy the Christian way of life, and then offer your thoughts and prayers for homophobic hate crimes. You’re either all in with us or you’re a malicious enemy as far as I’m concerned. I’m all for gray area, but not in this instance, not again, not after my brothers and sisters were slaughtered en masse in a public place, a safe space created by fellow queers as a collective house of acceptance and pride.
Having love for those that hate me has never been a particular strong suit of mine, or for the history of this country for that matter. We’ve always been piss and vinegar types of girls, America and I, and this situation doesn’t lend itself to leniency.
No amount of social media borne thoughts or prayers will quell the angry pit of fire in my belly or offer any small salve for the burning pain in my mind. I know a week isn’t much time to heal from anything, but I just want to be clear, I’m not healing, I’m fucking livid.
And if you love us, should be too.

Cask and Ale

Before you ask, that is cheesy grits, hangar steak, and BOURBON CANDIED BACON. That’s right, you heard me. Bourbon. Candied. Bacon.

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I’m not even a huge pork person myself, I think it’s generally a tad overpowering in dishes, but damn. This was just the most melt in your mouth heavenly porky bite I’ve ever taken.I don’t want to make you jealous but.. I’ll understand if you are, friend.

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Before I get ahead of myself, this was brunch at Cask and Ale on South Howard here in Tampa. They only recently opened up, in the old Sunova Beach venue, completely redone. You can’t even smell the stale beer and regrets anymore. Super creative and fresh American bistro menu, unlike anything else going on in Tampa.  Go for brunch, go for lunch, it’s all delicious.

Something unique, they started us off with complementary popcorn with a flavor of the day, pumpkin spice. I know, Pumpkin Spice! But it was anything other than basic. I’ve never owned Uggs and don’t know what constitutes a frappuccino so you can trust me. Truly delicious, and if for nothing else, go for the bacon!