It’s peanut brittle for Daniel Seddiqui, at least when he visits Spokane.
While traveling across the country and working on his book “Piecing Together America” , which hit shelves in May, Seddiqui was looking for something that screamed Spokane while on his 70-city tour of America in 2021.
Seddiqui, 40, found jobs during the pandemic while criss-crossing the country. Seddiqui made mementos, food or other objects. The San Francisco Bay-area native with a huge case of wanderlust made foam cheeseheads in Milwaukee, rolled cigars in Tampa, Florida, and a crab mallet in Baltimore.
“But I wondered what Spokane is known for,” Seddiqui said while calling from his Bend home. “I had been to Spokane once or twice. I didn’t know what the city was about but I knew it was a major enough city for me to visit and include in this book. I didn’t want to miss it. I know Spokane is an awesome city. It’s similar in size to Reno and Boise. In terms of geography, it’s far from another major city. The next biggest city going east is Minneapolis.”
Seddiqui contacted Visit Spokane, the city’s visitors bureau, which led him to the Historic Davenport Hotel and soft peanut brittle during his stay in November.
“The visitors bureau introduced me to The Davenport and had me stay there, and I tasted some of their famous peanut brittle,” Seddiqui said. “The effort they put into their peanut brittle that they give to their guests is incredible.
“I was fascinated by it, and I learned part of the craft from a gentleman from Africa. It was interesting how it was very time-oriented. You had to do the mixing and grinding in a time-oriented manner before it cools off. It’s super hot. Working with this hot gooey candy with nuts in it was nothing like anything I’ve ever done. It cools off in three minutes or so. It was amazing. That was my introduction to peanut brittle.
“… I could experience the peanut brittle war between the Davenport and Bruttles (Gourmet Candies). I love that they are right across the street from each other. That reminds me of the pizza battle in New Haven between Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s. Their brittle war is so cool.”
Spokane wasn’t the only city to impress Seddiqui during his exploration of America.
“Omaha surprised me, since it’s being completely redone,” Seddiqui said. “Warren Buffett is laying down his money to make Omaha a hub of innovation. El Paso surprised me, since it’s so different than the rest of the country. It’s so influenced by Mexico. It’s a major city at the border. There are tacos everywhere, but it’s just as American a city as Fargo. And then there is Cincinnati and Detroit. Both of those cities were crime-ridden and bankrupt and now they’re both being revitalized.”
Spokane has morphed since Seddiqui’s last visit a decade ago.
“Spokane has changed so much but it’s such a beautiful city,” Seddiqui said. “Spokane was one of my favorite cities on this tour. I was fascinated by the elevated trains that go through downtown. Where else can you see that going right above downtown? Nowhere.
“Riverfront Park is just so beautiful. You have the gondolas and the ice skating rink. Spokane is just wonderful and it’s a long way from another major city. It’s unique.”
Seddiqui is already thinking about a return trip to Spokane.
“I’m talking about doing a regional travel book,” Seddiqui said. “I’m dividing up the country in 10 segments. The Southwest will be entertainment. The South will be music, and the Pacific Northwest will be beverages. Perhaps I’ll be making apple cider in Spokane and coffee in Seattle.
“I don’t care what I write about when I come back to your city. I just want to come back to Spokane, but please spare me the ice storms from November. I had to put chains on my tires to leave Spokane. All was great when I visited, but the ice storm wasn’t so pleasant.”
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