Lauren and the Apple Cider Donuts

There are so many other things I need to be doing right now. If I look at my planner right now, I’m probably going to have to pencil in when I’m allowed to breathe….. Yet here I am!

Let me just say, I am very disappointed with this so called “autumn” this year. What an impostor, from the heat, to the cold, to the heat again, or the leaves only changing color now at the end of November instead of early October (I guess I should blame human induced global climate change for that). But also no one was all that excited for Halloween, the greatest holiday of them all. I didn’t even carve a pumpkin!

The biggest travesty though was quite frankly the gaping whole in my heart from the absence of apple cider donuts in my life.

This was not for lack of trying though. Almost every day, I checked the local bakery near my house in Columbia, leaving with nothing but emptiness in my soul (I mean stomach, but they are basically one in the same). All of this culminated to the morning I woke up in College Park and said “Damn it, I need them NOW.” Scrolling through my phone, I found a farm thirty minutes away from me where, apparently, they had some beautiful specimens of these baked cake rings.

After recently complaining about how hard my relatively privileged life was without my favorite fall treat to my good friend, Lauren, who felt the pain of this deficiency as much as me, I knew she would be my date for sure.

Before I explain our journey for these gosh darn donuts, I fully disclose that Lauren is easily one of the most amazing people I know. She’s a kind and generous soul, who is sarcastic as hell, and comforting when you need it most. Lauren won’t hesitate to tell you she’d rather be drinking a glass of wine and petting a dog than dealing with your pettiness though. Her hobbies are the coolest on this earth (SHE’S A CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHER).

Truly, I couldn’t have asked for a better someone with whom to go on this adventure. I picked Lauren up in my messy, but organized Honda accord and drove off with the windows down. Naturally, I handed over full creative control to the concert junkie for the tunes on the radio, as we blasted what I can only describe as upbeat, alternative with a little pop kick to it. As cliche as it is to say, you could feel the excitement in the air between the two of us. After that thirty minute drive to the little farm I had found, and about fifteen minutes of searching the shop, the slender, uninterested goth teenager behind the counter broke our hearts in a little over five seconds.

“All the apple cider donuts were sold by noon today, sorry”

I doubted the authenticity of this apology. I was about to lose my mind as I weighed my options. There were no other places I could think of nearby with precisely what I wanted. Lauren and I were rather inflexible, like a spoiled child at Christmas refusing a off brand toy, on our desire for authentic, apple cider donuts. As we contemplated our options while the sun began setting, we were pacing along the grounds of the farm. Only after about five minutes did I realize how charming this farm stand was even without what we were craving.

A very cute miniature orchard was the perfect place to take basic white girl autumn photos and pretend like that’s what we meant to do in the first place. Lauren is going to hate me for posting these, but she’s stuntin so hard here so I absolutely must share.

We were pretending to pick apples, but there were bees around the apples as we found out half way through photos. I was quite excited as you can see, but Lauren, being a normal person, had a normal person reaction.



and then for the best part. My artistic spirit drew me to this barn where I started taking pictures as the sun set. I was quite proud of myself at first, thinking I had nailed some great photos (so I thought). After reevaluating, I came to the conclusion that I should give up on doing anything ever again. Sure, we got some good photos of the fake apple picking, hiding our despair and disappointment,

but I managed to ruin that when I realized I took a bunch of pictures of a cat licking its genitals in front of my artsy barn. My artistic soul had led me astray…

It was time to go home. With no donuts and only a few good photos that Lauren still doesn’t want me to post, I felt defeated. And then Lauren said the best thing she could.

Let’s go pick up some wine and binge watch Netflix.

So we did, and I had the brilliant idea of trying to make apple cider donuts at home…. AND I didn’t have apple cider of course. Maybe I need to ignore my artistic soul from here on out.  With an alarming lack of apple cider donuts in my life, the lovely glasses of wine the two of us had, as well as each other’s company was all starting to make up for it. They typically say misery enjoys company don’t they? We managed to whip together baked cinnamon sugar donuts and invite a few others over to  taste our donuts made with a little desperation and tipsiness. Might I just say, we did a damn good job of making it seem like these donuts were an acceptable substitute.

And this is why I date my friends.

Tianxin and La Pupuseria

I think it’s a beautiful thing that a Norwegian/Irish white girl and a Chinese girl can walk into a Salvadoran restaurant to get food without even the thought of how none of this would be possible without being so beautifully connected, especially by food. I mean, all of the waitresses still looked at us like “what are these ignorant non-latina girls doing here?” but still, beautiful.

My date, Tianxin, was a talented and genuine person from head to toe.

She’s truly the whole package and she’s going to hate this firm and direct acknowledgement of her greatness because she’s so unbelievably modest. Tianxin is really quite a beautiful soul. Her artistic talent touches upon every aspect of her life, whether it is her photographic eye, the layout of her entire room from top to bottom, her sense of fashion and minimalist outfits; it doesn’t matter (she’s also super sassy but we will get to that later).

Tianxin is also an AVID foodie, who’s cooking at times puts me to shame. It seems an artistic mind and a well trained palette go hand in hand. It’s not hard to imagine two artistic foodies having a good time on a friend date to a poppin’ Salvadoran restaurant.

The two of us go to University of Maryland, making it incredibly easy to get to Washington D.C. However, that’s not where we went, because…..

  1. We are broke college students
  2. We are lazy
  3. It takes too long and we are forever hungry

College Park, Maryland may not be the same type of cultural hub with vibrant, highly rated gastropubs and sushi bars. The vibe is more similar to hungover college students in line for Bagel Place repeatedly saying “I want to die” and “what did I do last night?” (I can’t honestly say that hasn’t been me). But there is a lot of authenticity in the restaurants nearby, especially those with specific cultural fair.The two of us really appreciated this realness… and cheapness. La Pupuseria was the perfect place to be that day.

Authentic Salvadoran pupusas and chicken tamales on a beautiful, hot as hell fall day, were all we needed. If you don’t know what pupusas are, I’m so sorry. It’s not too late for you to enjoy life. Go out and get yourself like three of them at least. So what are pupusas?

Pupusas are corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and usually other ingredients like beans, pork, and even flower bud (which is delicious, I recommend it). Usually these little disks come out with a cabbage slaw,  called curtido, and tomato salsa.

Tianxin and I took a seat in the front of the store, under the TV blaring soccer news in Spanish. La Pupuseria is a small joint, with tables close together making it rather intimate as you can hear practically every conversation or request to a waiter. We went during off hours though, so the place was not bustling to the brim. Unfortunately, upon arrival we were already hungry, on the verge of hangry but nonetheless enjoying our time together, joking around about nerdy artistic things and how we were going to die of hunger soon. The one draw back about La Pupuseria is the food takes FOREVER, hopefully because they are making everything fresh and in that moment that you order.

The best advice I can give you when frequenting a Salvadoran restaurant is to order your pupusas as soon as humanly possible (like before you even walk through the door maybe).

Our waitress approached, and rather excited about practicing my Spanish I was about to order when my date jumped in before I could get a word out. Chicken tamales, pupusas with beans and chicharon (pork, another recommendation). And these were enjoyed along with the wonderful conversation. If the other patrons of the restaurant listened to us, they probably thought we hated one another. There’s no end to the sarcasm and put down fest between the two of us. Tianxin tells me straight when I’m being a whiny b*tch or when I really need to stop opening up my cooking services for everyone on a Saturday night when I’m clearly rather tipsy. This is, of course, only bad in her eyes if she’s not already just as gone as I am. Then it’s the two of us with our wine glasses in the kitchen.

So we chatted along through our meal, but in the end I was still itching to practice my Spanish. If you hadn’t already seen from my blog posts, I really enjoyed my time in Spain which motivated me even further to continue learning Spanish. When our food came out, the waitress forgot to bring two forks. I went up to the counter and said in plain Spanish,

“Tiene un tenedor?” (Do you have a fork?)

She answered in English. All of them looked at me confused, gave me the fork, and watched me walk back to my table, feeling a little defeated and disappointed. As Tianxin can tell you, I didn’t let this go, not even after eating the most amazing five dollar meal I’ve ever had. I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect date.

And the next day, she didn’t even ghost me.

She even listened to me complain again about my Spanish-less encounter. If that isn’t true friend-love, I don’t know what is.