Wednesday, February 04, 2009

HObama and The Campaign for Free Food

The satirical publication, The Onion, was quite accurate in describing Obama's victory as President of the United States...

"Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job."

Without a doubt. Obama gets to tackle the recession due to the national debt, Iraq, Israeli's & Palestinians, the environment, Guantanamo Bay, Mexico's drug war and health care, just to name a few. Quite a load for anyone to take. But Obama has been vocal about change and hope throughout his campaign for the Democratic seat and we believe that it will happen. This is a hard time for him and us as the American people. With the recession going on, we have to cut back on everything. We can't go out as much, we have to conserve resources and sadly, we have to cut back on the amount we eat outside. Harsh. Especially for those who love to eat. That means you, otherwise you wouldn't be on this site. But you know what,

(Read the following paragraph with MLK's intense, prolific oration style.)

... I, HObama (my last name is Ho), of ED&BM, will march side by side with Obama as proud Americans in our own campaign. A campaign that will still provide us with sustenance. A campaign that will allow us to enjoy the thing we like to do most, which is to eat, and not dent the bank account while doing it. Obama has an economic plan, and I, have a gastronomic plan.

This is a campaign for... FREE FOOD!

(Applause and tears of joy!)

Yes, my fellow Americans and foreign people that stumble upon my site by accident and immediately hit the BACK button, I've provided a list of the best ways for you to get free food during this recession without lowering your social status. It will not be easy, but you will be rewarded. Shall we enjoy the beauty of $free.99?

1. Costco Frozen Food
Costco, the freak of nature store that directly reflects the way Americans over-consume. Things here are sold in obnoxious proportions and a lot of times people are stuck deciding if it will benefit them or cause more problems. Does everyone really need the 25 gallon "Family Pak" of extra virgin olive oil? Not unless you're Rachael Ray. If you can endure the parking lot drama, SUV-sized shopping carts, saying 'excuse me' about 100 x's, then get ready to part the bushes and discover the frozen-food goldmine. On weekends, and sometimes weekdays when business is slow, you'll see the Microwave Maidens luring customers with wafts of freshly baked food and sounds of microwave timers going off. *Beep* Beep* Low and behold, le coleccion de calorie. Have a 1/2 portion of a pepperoni bagel bite, enjoy a soggy Tyson chicken tender, try the spinach quiche or if you're lucky enough, TGIF Jose Cuervo Tequila/Lime wings. Gross, but all for free! After you are done, pretend to go looking for something down the aisle and make a quick turn around the fridges back to the Microwave Maiden of your choice and say something like:

"That last piece I got was still frozen in the middle."
"May I have one for my (insert relative) to try?"
"I just want to try one more and make sure I really do like it. And then I'll buy it. I'm a man of my word."

But beware, those ladies will remember you and give you an evil eye. So don't be too greedy. I've actually seen this man get called out for free-loading. "Sir, the packages are RIGHT BEHIND me in the freezer for the low cost of $13.73." I love how Costco prices their items before tax. And the best part of Costco, there's more than one Microwave Maiden at work. I knew these guys once in college that would go once a month at around 11 am and find their lunch. By 12 pm, they've eaten a bit of everything and are fully content. How did I know about these poor bastards? I was one of them.

2. Wine Shops with Olive Oil Tastings
This one is a kill-two-stones-with-one-bird situation. You go in and pretend you are looking for a bottle for tonight's date, which is a complete lie – because if you're following the HOBama Plan you're way too poor to go on a date. Slowly edge over to the olive oil section. More than likely, there will be cubed french bread ready at your disposal. Take a piece of bread and dip it into your olive oil of choice. Something to note, the greener it is, the less pressed it is – and expect some major grassiness and bitterness. If an employee is nearby, nod your head and moan your approval for it and even ask a nonsense question like, "At what temperature are olives best pressed in the regions of Italy?" And then kindly ask if there is any wine for you to taste, to wash down all that edible lotion. Unfortunately, these finely pressed olive oils aren't cheap. You're looking upwards of $20 for an average bottle. I figure if you eat about 50 pieces of cubed bread, you've pretty much eaten a 6" sandwich with olive oil as your filling. But this part of the HObama plan can make you quite ill, and you may want to find the nearest trash can. Moderation, my people!

3. Tortilla Chips in Mexican Restaurants
There's this 'mexican' restaurant in WeHo that I forget the name of. People, please help HObama. Here, the waiters bark out their orders in some sort of harmony and serve up strong margaritas. But the goldmine lies right in the middle of the restaurant – a giant bucket of tortilla chips. If you can somehow blend in with a bunch of drunks during their company happy hour, you will be rewarded. Eat as many as you can, until your jaw falls off or until you go home with the wasted just-fresh-out-of-college receptionist.

4. Office Meetings
Sometimes you're just not important enough to be in that bigwig meeting in your company. The kind with people so high up in the company their heads are in the clouds. The kind that has a whole cart full of refreshments and smorgasbord of caloric delight. Bagels with 4 types of cream cheese, seedless fruit, well-endowed sandwiches, non-olive garden pasta and expensive desserts. This is all very painful to deal with especially when you're slurping your $.99 Kimchi Ramen Bowl that is so loaded with MSG, causing your throat to close up. *Gasp* But am i not The HObama, the one who will help you through this recession. Yes we can. Grab your Blackberry, a pen, yellow notepad and tuck your shirt into them khakis. If you don't have a blackberry, go find one of those bubblegum cellphone cases at the market. Find the meeting with the best food and walk in. If you're already late, walk in with head focused on the Blackberry. Careful not to make eye contact because you can blow your cover. Tell them you're sorry you're late and pretend you're surprised by the food on the table. "Ooh. My favorite." Grab a big plate and find the seat in the back of the room. Then, go to the ringtone menu in your phone about 15 mins into the meeting, and make that shit ring LOUD as though you got a call. You pick it up right away and excuse yourself from the meeting and give yourself a high-5 because you just scored some goodies. Works every time.

5. Trader Joe's
Head straight for the back and look for the happy, Hawaiian-shirted employee behind the sneeze guard. Why yes, I would like to try some of that Fat-free Green Tea Hibiscus Peach Tea you're serving. Along with the macrobiotic sun dried tomato garlic hummus with free-range rosemary-raisin pita bread. You can always count on TJ's to offer the world's strangest pairings. I give them a FAIL for the pairings but I give them a thumbs up for helping me live another day w/ their organic, macrobiotic, free-range, fat-free products.

6. Marathons
Find those old, 1986 velcro Pro Wings and get ready to work for your free food. This will take some work but you'll feel good about it. You'll need a ID number so grab an 8.5 x 11 paper and sharpie and make up some arbitrary number like '916' which spells 'pig' in the Motorola Pager code. Because that's what you are – a pig. Ok, race is beginning. Line up in the back unless you want to get run over by the Kenyans. Because you're not here to top them, you are a man on your own mission. On your mark, get set, GOOOOOOOOOOOO to the nearest lady handing out any of those trail snack/energy bar booths. Not only will those energy bars fill you up, you'll have the hardest time chewing it b/c it's made of rubber and bark. You'll be running down the streets looking like a chipmunk, but it's sooooo good for you. You'll need some Gatorade which will be everywhere. Don't worry about coming in last or being spanked by the dog with 2 front legs and wheelbarrow as hind legs (saw this in China, for real). You're a winner today regardless because you got free energy snacks. If the next marathon is for the opposite sex only, plan accordingly with props and duct tape.

7. Farmer's Markets
This is easy. It's like Souplantation, but like, delicious. I love the Hollywood farmer's market the most – probably the largest I've seen. There's the oyster man, pistachio man, heirloom tomato lady – anything you want. just ask the magic question... "how do these taste?" Grab a sample of everything you'd like to try, but don't eat it, just thank the nice vendors and toss it in your bag. Then head over to the sidewalk and compile your super salad. You are frugal and smart because you brought your own bowl w/ some olive oil and vinegar in your backpack. Voila, a free salad.

8. Halloween
Why hello there? What are YOU dressed up as for Halloween? Hungry. Don't even bother putting on an outfit. It's obvious why you're there because you are two decades too late for this fat-enhancing custom. People most likely will give you whatever you want and immediately shut the door because in their book, you are insane. You're a 45-year old kid that still lives with his mom that does your laundry and microwaves your Dinty Moore for you, while you find your soul mate in Warcraft chat rooms. (JK, John. not) You'll get the super sized candies – good stuff like 100 Grand, Caramello and Whoppers. Refuse those yellow butterscotch candies no one ever eats. Why does Brach's even make those any more? And like the marathon, you don't need to dress up, because you're clearly a winner – two pails filled to the brim with candy, and none for mom.

9. Business Card Fishbowls
2 out of 10 restaurants you eat at will probably have one of these next to those $.25 candy dispensers. It screams, "Drop your business card for a chance to win a free lunch!" Hey doesn't hurt. THEN, the miracle happens. You're at work sending out YouTube links and all of a sudden, the phone rings. "Congratulations, (insert your name). We've selected you for the free lunch sweepstakes. How does it feel? When would you like to come in for your free lunch?" Well as the saying goes, "there's no such thing as a free lunch." Rightfully so, because when you show up to eat, you're not eating alone. You're eating w/ some slimeball-sales-person with claws and hooves, dressed in shirt & clip-on tie. Think of him as a used-car salesman on his lunch break. He may sell you financial services, timeshare in a place like San Bernardino or something life-changing like mailbox insurance. But if you have adapted the art of pretending like you're listening and timing your head nods perfectly, you can phase out Sam the Slimeball and actually enjoy your lunch. And maybe even pawn off some of that $.25 candy, you slimeball.

10. Asian Markets like 99 Ranch
Like Costco but with really bad driving/parking, they have weekend giveaways too. You will usually find the freebies in the very back by the meat department since the aisles are the widest there. I actually look forward to their goods because some of it is quite delicious. You'll most likely see some sort of noodle served in tiny styrofoam cups with a light soy sauce broth. They give you these tiny tiny forks to use but I would actually like to see some miniature chopsticks – could be fun and messy! Then you move on to the dumpling lady serving boiled goodness . How about the lady serving up halved fish or meatballs? They give you a toothpick to take ONE, but I like to make my own Asian shishkabob by stabbing through 5-6 of those – tasty. Now it's time for dessert, make your way to the fruit wafers that come in those tin containers – childhood treat. Wash it all down with 5-6 types of high-fructose corn syrup yogurt drinks... mmm tasty. I like the peach one. Now repeat 4-5 times. Don't forget your facial sun visor/welding mask as it adds to the experience and hides the shame.

11. The Gold Room of Echo Park
Have you ever time traveled? I have. Sometimes unknowingly after having a little too much to drink. But if you want to time travel to Mexico come here. On the outside, it looks like a bar you would pass by normally, but once you walk in, bam, you are in Mexico. Awesome. The beauty of The Gold Room is the symbiosis between ultra-cool skinny-boy hipsters and the rancheros. They switch between latino and non-latino music, which is cool. Sorry, Creed and Akon not allowed. If you don't feel like dancing, take a seat up at the bar and do what you do best. But then something strange happens. One of the many large-bosomed bartenders will approach you slowly. You can't tell what she is holding in her hand b/c of the blacklights that are on. But it appears to be.... tacos. It's like she came over to pat you on the back for the excellent drinking you've been doing. How many times have you been rewarded for drinking? Wow, free beef tacos and peanuts. I have not had these myself, but my friends have. While they are nothing to write home about, a little power snack with your $1 tequila makes the belly and wallet happy.

12. The Coastline
On the show Lost, I am actually surprised everyone is alive on that show and how they are always looking good. Because you know what, I really don't know what they can survive on besides coconuts, insects and the occasional mammal on the loose. Most people would perish, except for the Asians who will just about eat anything. I remember seeing one episode in the early seasons, where the Korean guy, Jin, is off by the rocks finding lunch. I started laughing because I knew he had his ban chan ready to go with the sea urchin, mussels and oysters he was foraging. While Jack and Sawyer are busy restructuring each other's facial structures over Kate, he's over by the rocks rolling his eyes back and moaning with gastronomic satisfaction. Getting stuck on an island is anything but a nightmare considering it is a seafood buffet. And it's not called Todai. For this part of the HObama plan, one must work for to find the fruits of the sea. Go to your local beach or pier and bring a spear, pliers and shuckers. To make it even more interesting, wear a loin cloth to get that prehistoric, caveman feel. You're going to look crazy anyway, so might as well go 110%. Before you jump in the water, yell at people with incomprehensible gibberish. The first caveman to find an oyster, man, how hungry must he have been. Archaeologists have even discovered oyster shell piles as high as 3 stories! Now that's a party. Unlike Costco and Halloween options, this one is actually good for you albeit difficult. And you could care less about the rescue plane circling your island.

This is a democracy, and I would like to add more to the HObama plan. How else can we maximize eating during this recession? Thanks for reading, and God bless the hungry American people.


Eddie Lin said...

You got my vote, Fat Chinese Boy.

Chung Nguyen said...

Man, you put a LOT of thought into this. I was thinking about just blogging the different types of cheap-eats (pho, rice plates, burritos, etc.). $Free.99 is even better! I especially appreciate the meeting-crashing tips. You've got our executives pegged to a tee!

r a m e n i a c said...

what's that one movement... those dumpster-diving dudes... are those the locavores? nothing beats a big ole' steel trash bin behind the restaurant or supermarket of your choice, you can just climb into it like ewan macgregor did that toilet in trainspotting looking for his stash!

EatTravelEat said...

Great photo on the top! You must have done a lot of work on it!

Very intriguing post :). I would have not thought about those ideas. Agree about the Costco people; they remember you really, really well!

Jeni said...

Call your local Penny Saver and post a wanted ad for a fiance because tomorrow you're going cake tasting!

Pepsi Monster said...

Long live Free Food!!!

Then again, would I want to touch those food you provided on that list? Hahahaha

choisauce said...

these are genius. Im embarrassed to say I've taken advantage of 80% of these already but I see some new ones too. can't forget whole foods! yes u can sample almost ANYTHING in the deli/pre-made food section. awesomeness. go straight for the pizza yo

Pirikara said...

haha great blog idea. I personally like to surf the net for free crud. Look what I found!:

Anonymous said...

Another interesting follow up would be how to stretch that dollar. I have a friend that orders a meal at Olive Garden and gets the free soup and they just eat the unlimited soup and split the rest of that huge meal into lunch & dinner the next day.

e d b m said...

Eddie, thank you. You're phat.

ChungNguyen, cheap eats is great but free is better. Be right back, going to a meeting right now with my Blackberry. I see some bacon donuts.

Rameniac, dumpster diving would lower the status. But if you really think of it, I bet you can find about 15-20 foodbloggers nightly behind places like The French Laundry, The Bazaar and Animal picking up the scraps and writing about it.

ETE, I actually did not. Give yourself the Shepard Fairey look here at and retouch with photoshop as needed.

J, this is going to be a good year for us financially thanks to HOBama. *tears*

PepsiMonster, refer to my response to Rameniac.

Choisauce, no need to. Everyone here has – give yourself a hand. It's 2009, your cheapness is now nationally accepted thanks to the recession.

Pirikara, nice!

Anonymous, I have a relative who will arrive at Souplantation at around 3 pm for a very late lunch and STAY to have early dinner at 7 pm. I do not associate with her.

Pepsi Monster said...

Dude, I'm sorry. I rather eat hot dogs from 7-Eleven than picking up scraps from dumpster at French Laundry. Hahaha

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