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I’ve been back from my trip for almost a week, and I’m still trying to get my bearings. I won’t lie: it’s odd going on such a long journey and losing track of days and dates, only to return home and have to fit into a routine again. On Sunday, I got a wonderful massage but woke up Monday feeling achy and sick. Plus, I’m facing the very real-world realities of taxes and deadlines.

Regardless, today was my final online installment of the Tales from a Train series, and I’m thrilled that so many people are enjoying the stories of the people I met along my journey.

I’ve had a lot of questions about the Amtrak Residency, and hope to address some of them here on my blog over the coming week or so, as time permits. I thought I’d delve into the question most people ask: how is the food?

The simple answer is that the meals onboard were decent. Breakfast consisted of cereal, oatmeal or scrambled eggs, with juice, some orange wedges and a biscuit. Lunch was often a spinach salad. Dinner generally involved a meat, some potatoes and vegetables. The turkey with portobello sauce was probably the tastiest, and the tortellini was pretty yummy.

I can and will rave about one thing: the warm date pudding dessert. It wasn’t really a pudding. It wasn’t exactly a cake. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, but once I had the moist, soft, cake-pudding-thing, I was hooked. It was soaked in a toffee-caramel sauce and had the consistency of bread pudding. It was so delicious, in fact, that I did not even pause to take a photo.

Because I stopped along the way to see friends and family, I ate all the food from New York to Los Angeles:

 

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Mission Chinese on the Lower East Side of NYC. Who knew that celery could be this tasty?

 

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Lou Malnati’s pizza in Chicago.

 

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My critique partner Kat Faitour and I treated ourselves to tea at the Palmer House in Chicago.

 

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Early morning capuccino at Denver’s Union Station.

 

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Sourdough bread at Boudin in San Francisco is my everything.

 

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A Moscow Mule on the Coast Starlight in California.

 

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A throwback to old Los Angeles: Philippe’s French-dipped sandwiches. A friend brought me here and it was incredible. Gravy was involved.

 

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La Maliniche in El Paso made tortillas that I will dream about for years.

 

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A final toast at the end of my train trip.

 

Andy’s, a blues and jazz club in Chicago, was a definite highlight.