This winter weather is enough to make an eskimo exasperated. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration. But it is definitely enough to make a whimpy girl with Vietnamese genes and tropical blood in her veins annoyed and whiny. So last week, I headed to Southern California with my parents, sister and brother-in-law (that’s right, I was the fifth wheel and proud of it) for our first family vacation in four years. My birthday is at the beginning of March, and my sister, who is completing her third year of medical school in New Jersey, had a break between two of her rotations, so we decided to combine these two events into a trip to the other coast.
We squeezed in a few days in Death Valley National Park between visiting family outside of Los Angeles. It is about a five hour drive to Death Valley from my uncle’s house in Simi Valley, which means we needed plenty of snacks and nourishment to last the ride. On the way back from the desert, my dad mentioned stopping at a fast food stop for lunch, and I immediately demanded (note: not suggested, demanded) In-N-Out Burger. I assume that the three people actually reading this blog don’t live under a rock and know what In-N-Out Burger is (UH ONLY THE GREATEST FAST FOOD PLACE ON THE PLANET). But in the small chance that someone residing on some remote island has wi-fi and stumbled upon my sad tales of filling my empty heart with food, I will explain In-N-Out. Basically, In-N-Out IS ONLY THE GREATEST FAST FOOD PLACE ON THE PLANET. It is a chain of burger spots in Southwest America. This means it is not in DC. The simple menu consists of three types of burgers: hamburger, cheeseburger, and a double-double (two patties and two slices of cheese). In addition, you can order fries, and three different flavors of milkshakes: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. What makes the experience more fun is In-N-Out’s “secret menu” which is not really a secret because it is on the company’s website.
We stopped by a location in Lancaster, California for what would be my sister and my parents’ first time at In-N-Out. I was extremely excited for them, despite their lack of enthusiasm. My brother-in-law ordered a double-double, animal style. I went with a cheeseburger, animal style and protein style (no bun). My dad ordered a double-double, my mom got a cheeseburger, and my sister ordered a hamburger because she does not like cheese (yes, I still love her despite this horrible flaw – kidding). I also got a Neapolitan shake (chocolate AND vanilla AND strawberry), which was recommended to me by the most recent Tinder babe (more on him later) who recently moved to DC from LA.
We decided to eat in the restaurant instead of trying to inhale the food in the car, so we sat down and admired the spread before digging in. What I especially love about In-N-Out is the freshness of the veggies; the tomatoes and lettuce are so crunchy and sweet. Getting my burger animal style means every juicy bite of meat has a delicious creamy tang. My sister approved of the burger, declaring that she actually preferred In-N-Out over Shack Shake, an extremely bold statement in my opinion My mother, who actually hates fast food, ate about half of her burger before passing it off to my father (I tried not to take it personally). My dad said his order was relatively good but that in general, he is “not really a fan of burgers” (how am I related to these people? kidding again). The best part of the meal was definitely the Neapolitan shake. The vanilla tastes a little more like French vanilla, and the mixture of flavors tasted so delightful that I tried to make each sip last as long as possible. These shakes come out pretty frozen, and I let mine sit for a bit so that the ice cream starts to melt into a pillowy texture. That milkshake was a glorious, glorious end to a meal. It was the kind of shake that makes you close your eyes as you inhale in the dairy and saturated fat, while thanking your parents for not giving you any genes for lactose intolerance. I may hate on Tinder a lot, but in this case, it somehow brought me to my first Neapolitan shake. So for now, I love you Tinder.