My friend recently asked to go for a run and grab a smoothie or "what do you call those bowls?"
Since we were talking smoothies, I immediately knew she meant açaí. Açaí is one of those things whose trendiness is reflected even in the way you write it. You have to include the accents, and you also need to wear Lulelemon when you order it - but I don't own Lululemon, just Nike. Oh well.
I had never actually had an açaí bowl so I was down to go. People assume that because I write for As Told Over Brunch that I must be the biggest foodie. False. For example, I have two-year-expired flour in my pantry. I cook chicken in the crockpot with no seasoning. Price is more important than being locally grown (though that may be the grad student speaking in me - actually that's just me).
I planned on taking us to North End Juice Company, a juice bar / coffee shop in the Museum District that just opened. Apparently it's walk-up - perfect for after our run. (I don't know why it's called North End because the Museum District is more like the West End if we're going to talk cardinal directions.) From my Facebook and Instagram feeds, North End is all the rage in the lifestyle blogger-sphere.
Unfortunately, North End closed at 4:30. We weren't running until 4:45.
That left us with the Pit and the Peel. Now I only discovered Pit and the Peel a month ago, though I've walked past it for months. My friend at OrderUp - Richmond Brunch Weekend's sponsor! - told me how delicious it was, so I marched myself over and ordered a Cinnamon Toast Brunch smoothie because nothing else on that menu deserved my attention. And holy cow. So good. And even worth the price ($6 for 16 oz.), which means a lot coming from me.
The second time I went to the Pit and the Peel I ordered the same. On that occasion I came across the reason I distrust the açaí craze and millennials in general. While I waited in line, I overheard two suntanned girls (this was March so not a real suntan!) discussing the one's summer job plans. She was split between spending the season at her parents' Charleston beach house (where income seemed not part of the equation) or in California, also not working, but California has the best sort of weed, and she had been so stressed lately, and her friend said she needed to try a different strand. "It's so clean," she extolled. "My anxiety vanishes when I light up."
You mean you're high?
Now this is not a rant against marijuana use, and I'm all for better mental health, but there was just something about this conversation that made me look around for a yoga mat to whack myself with. And I hated myself for standing in an açaí bowl shop where I'm paying $7.50 to be hungry again in an hour.
Then again, I'm a lifelong student so I really cannot judge any of this.
And today I ordered an açaí bowl. Having never had one, I had this expectation that the bowl was a fruit bowl. As in, there would be chunks of fruit. My friend and I even Googled, "What is açaí?" before we ordered. (It looks like a blueberry.)
I was ready to bite into an açaí. I imagined it would taste sweet and tart. Finally, my bowl arrived. A smoothie bowl. As in, there were banana slices and strawberries atop a smoothie concoction.
Where is a straw? Where is the açaí? This is the craze? Eating smoothie with a spoon? What the hell is wrong with our generation?
My friend and I decided we didn't want to judge before we tried it. We found a park bench and consumed our bowls. And they were good. I will probably order another bowl. But I sort of want to order a bowl and ask for it unblended. "Put the açaí, banana, and dark chocolate chips in the bowl and don't press mush."
Or ask for them to put it in a cup.
"Try these cacao nibs," I urged my friend and offered her my bowl. I had ordered the Midnight Bowl, which is dark chocolate everything.
At the counter the cashier warned me that the cacao nibs were not sweet. "It's almost bitter." As if this would turn me off.
She had no idea how I search for the darkest cacao at Kroger. The highest I've found is 88%.
"That is raw chocolate!" my friend said. "I love it!"
"I know! It's so good. I can't even eat milk chocolate any more. Even Hershey's dark chocolate is not enough. I need that high cacao content."
"The highest I've found is 90%, but you have to go to Spain. There, they only have dark chocolate, and it's what everyone snacks on. It has so much protein."
And I wondered if we talked this way because we ordered açaí bowls or if we ordered açaí bowls because we talked this way. And where was a yoga mat to whack myself with.