Smoked Turtle Beans and Dill Jasmine Rice - A Broken Angel Food Trailer - Bend, OR


Time slips quickly by as I settle into this lengthy stop in Bend, homeless and middle-class in the town I call home. Regularly cooking beans in the van, more practicality than an expedition, little fanfare or adventure or purpose beyond the standard goodness of beans for breakfast. I decided to branch out and see where I could find some locally crafted beans for lunch, my search tumbling upon a vegan food truck at the hipster-community-center and doomed-to-become-a-parking-lot coffee shop, Spoken Moto

It's rare to find a place that lists beans on the menu beyond a footnote of "beans" under sides. Neat. Smoked? Intriguing. Turtle? Quaint semantics. I was looking forward to it. 

The woman who popped up in the small trailer window was a surprise to see. I knew her. Six years ago I had been floating home down the river from work, just a normal Tuesday, alone in an innertube with my work clothes floating alongside in a waterproof briefcase. A couple, about my same age, floated up and started chatting (one of them this now vegan-trailer-girl). They shared some beers with me. We kept chatting. We finished the float together and, my house near the river takeout, I gave them a ride back to their car. We continued to chatting over more beers at Riverside Market (long since closed and repurposed into a white table cloth French bistro and now a meddling cafe whose name always implies that they make yogurt (they do not)). I continued following this couple around town where I ended up on stage at a burlesque show reinvention of the dating game, earning some momentary fame for answering "what animal would you be?" with the drunkenly coy "I'd be a platypus, because I am undefinable." The burlesque show naturally devolved (somehow) into the couple taking me to the strip club, a place I was excited to get to because it was on my list of 100 burgers in Bend and I had not had my burger for the day. My streak had not yet been broken. Facts get hazier here, but I recall disappointment that the kitchen was closed and I wouldn't get a burger, a disappointment that overshadowed even the giant stack of dollar bills that the couple had deposited before me, like parents handing me tokens at the arcade. We left the club and parted ways, them specifically (and thankfully) uninviting me from further shared activities as they headed into the adult novelty store next door. I was now a simple three kilometers from home in a town with no Uber and rare taxis, a town that closes early while I still needed to eat a burger, to fulfill the greater mission. I ran, on foot and in boots, towards downtown (I ran a lot those days, recreationally and as utility when required). Only the shadiest of bars open, all of them glaring at me as I burst in demanding a burger. I eventually ended up at home, empty handed, the first time ruining my streak. I would run into the girl off and on as she bartended around town, her beaming when she saw me and remarking to others about the randomness of that river-to-burlesque-to-strippers adventure. She became single for a bit and I asked for her number and was frankly dismissed. She became married and bought a house and went to school and got a job with the government. That was the last I'd heard of her in three years. 

The above paragraph zipped through my head as I placed her face. "Oh, hey!" we both said. We caught up briefly. Nothing really new, just a few years of pandemic filling the gap. What would I like? I'd just like some beans. "Just beans?" "Just beans."

The beans were fine. I recommend the green sauce.