Asheville has a real way of making you feel inadequate. I just wanted to peruse the shops on Lexington, but I left with such a complex. Like there is no way that I could learn the correct way to wear pants tight enough to make eunuchs cry. How exactly does one spend 45 minutes on their hair and manage to make it look like they woke up behind a garbage dumpster....a garbage dumpster full of chic! They seem to have the coolest of social lives. House parties in abandoned houses. Warehouse parties...in abandoned warehouses. They don't really have to worry about taking up a stance on anything, the anti-trend will become known to them eventually and as soon as it's saturated they just have to be one of the first ones to go back to the trend. I imagine there's a large population of meat-eating republican gutter punks in Asheville right about now. Well, with my self image shattered I wandered up to the southern end of Lexington, where the shops are still kinda cute but run by middle aged people who've lived their fads and are content to actually have a cause and then host a potluck for it. Surprise, I actually bought something there. Without the pressure of not living up to the staff's standards, or maybe it was just that I didn't feel like paying 30 dollars for a plastic bag or 60 dollars for a necklace made out of tin cans and the souls of supposed greedheads, I was able to make a peaceful purchase.
I made my way over to Chai Pani near the Grove Arcade. Admittedly, I've never been to India, and as far as I'm concerned Indian food is curry, masala, paneer, etc. The things you can get on the buffet and that make up every standard menu I've seen in about 12 countries. Chai Pani has a menu full of things I've never heard of, apparently real Indian street food. In an effort to be less hoighty-toighty, Chai Pani has made itself basically a hipster lunch stop with zero atmosphere.
Additionally, every other item says it contains cilantro. Even when I ordered an item that did not mention cilantro, it came with cilantro chutney and a liberal covering of cilantro. This is not ok. This is gross negligence. This is not an ingredient you can just shove aside. It permeates every aspect of your meal. Now, to be fair, the guy behind the bar where I had chosen to sit, took it back and had them remake it without my even having to ask. He was well chatty. Nice sort of chap. But it didn't take long to realize he was still one of those Asheville holier-than-thous, just not in uniform. For one thing, I mention to him that Hendersonville is about to get a Middle Eastern cafe. (DID YOU HEAR THAT?!?! I'm so excited it's not even funny.) I mention that I've been looking for a place to get falafel, and he says he's interested in their hummus. He goes on to explain the various ways that hummus variants have failed him before. He finishes with, "I'm looking for a deft hand." I had to ask him to repeat that. Jesus man, it's just ground chickpeas. A deft hand? Your deft hand dumped a way more than a dash of salt in my "Indian lemonade" and it tastes like, well, you can imagine I'm sure. And shortly before I leave, I hear him mutter, not so quietly, "Amateur hour."
Give me a freaking break.