“I’ll take the biscuits and gravy and a latte please. I haven’t eaten until just now.”
“Can I have one of those fried chicken biscuits? Although, sadly, I’ll have to go back to the gym today.”
“I really want the hashbrown casserole, but will take the side of mixed greens.”
Spoken in a hushed whisper or declared loudly to overcompensate, time and time again I hear these explanations when our guests, mostly women, place their orders. The self-loathing continues when the aforementioned menu items arrive at the table. The food runners hear all about the repentance that will be taken after the delicious bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit is consumed.
“Oh wow, how will I eat this entire thing?! I’ll just skip lunch later.”
These words catch my attention. As a chef, I am fascinated by people’s relationship with and perception of food — why they make certain choices, how food makes them feel, how they describe food, how they eat it. I believe food tells a story. Stomping Ground’s story is one about the value of conscious eating. Yes, calories count, but the quality of what we eat will always matter more than how much we eat.
We take great care in how we prepare our food. It is purchased as locally and sustainably as possible so we can trace the origin of each and every ingredient. Our eggs, meats, and vegetables come from farmers I have met personally. These scratch ingredients are then molded by the hands of our kitchen staff, whom we pay living wages. Our food is designed to bring joy and create an experience. It provides fuel. It is made with love. It contains a piece of each and every person at Stomping Ground who played a role in getting it to your table, from the farmer, to the delivery guy, to the cook, to the barista, to the food runner.
Qualifying and justifying whole, real food diminishes that experience.
So, why are we apologizing? Clearly I’m asking rhetorically, but I think it is a question worth asking. If you choose to eat a warm bowl of cheesy heirloom grits topped with chorizo, why destroy the intended comfort of this indulgent dish by obsessing over it? Why have we, as women, created shame in the simple act of enjoying our food? Why has the topic of what we are or are not allowing into our bodies become everyday conversation among women? The verbal self-consciousness is contagious. Every person in earshot, including any young woman in the room, can hear this self-negotiation and inner anxiety. Let’s shift the conversation to one about food quality, and the community that grows around a good meal.
This week, I challenge you. The next time you visit us look your server directly in the eye and order exactly what you want. No explanations. No apologies. No shame. Then, enjoy your dish with positive feelings and gratitude.
If you wander down Del Ray’s, “The Avenue,” you won’t miss the farm-red building with a rustic fence bordering the patio. Stomping Ground opened two years ago and quickly became popular for its made-from-scratch biscuits and its neighborhood vibe. On weekends, excited guests line up before Stomping Ground opens hoping to be the first to get a just-out-of-the-oven biscuit or a fresh salad. Stomping Ground is mostly known for its fast casual breakfast and lunch but on Thursdays and Fridays they provide a full dinner service after 5:00pm. All meals are built from local, seasonal food that is organic whenever possible.
2309 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301