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I’m someone who loves eating out – especially breakfast and lunch. I’ve done quite a bit of dinner eating out, but the opportunity is now scarce and I don’t mind. The menus for the other two meals are just as satisfying, and you don’t have to wear any makeup or fancy shoes.
Fast food places were okay when the kids were younger and we took them there for an occasional treat. You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that burgers, fries, and milk shakes are not good for anyone but, once in a great while they can be tolerated.
Point me anyplace that serves a good fish chowder and I’ll move right in. I am going to say that I rarely find a chowder better or even as good as my own homemade. This I can get attested to by anyone who’s had some of mine. I take no credit for the dish because I was taught how to make it by a neighbor years ago who was a native Californian and had never been near New England. I never knew where she learned her recipe, but she was a good cook generally, and might have learned the chowder secrets from a relative who did have some Yankee roots.
If I had to grade my favorite kinds of restaurants, Italian and Seafood places would head my list. Over the span of time, I can recall with great fondness two Italian restaurants. One was in San Francisco, and one, believe it or not, in Las Vegas. Both were small and both were family owned and operated with Mama in charge of all the cooking, and great cooking it was. Years ago, the North Beach section of San Francisco was Little Italy. It’s where the Bank of Italy was located, a tiny place that emerged as the Bank of America. All the shops were owned by Italians. Pizzas and bread were baked in brick ovens. The famous San Francisco French Bread was actually Italian bread, always sold in paper bags.
The little restaurant we frequented was overflowing with family members, serving as cooks, bakers, waiters, and cashier. The juke box played only opera and a son, named Mario, sang every tenor aria as he bustled around waiting on tables. Occasionally, one of his parents would pop out of the kitchen to scream at him in Italian to “shut up”, which prompted him to scream something back in Italian, which started a fight. This happened fairly frequently and if it bothered you, go get your blissful pasta someplace else. On occasion, Mario, knowing us fairly well as frequent customers, would collapse at our table in tears, complaining about his terrible life and lost opportunity to be another Caruso. We sympathized but never missed a forkful.
The other restaurant was located on the outskirts of Vegas; far enough away from the strip so you could pretend you were living in the real world. This was another family organization, the father having trekked his family away from New York several years before. This meant his cooking was more Sicilian than the Italian restaurant in California, many of them with roots in Northern Italy. The cuisines are pretty different, and I like both. We were happier eating in this restaurant since the places in Vegas were usually in casinos where eating is far less important than gambling. The family was delightful – no screaming fights or frustrated opera singers. The youngest child in the family was an 18 year old daughter of much beauty, who was named Queen of the annual Vegas festival. She rode on a float, down the strip, looking like a gorgeous Spanish princess.
Yesterday, Adele’s family and I went to lunch. We decided to try a relatively new place in town, whose name I can’t remember but it bears the name Texas something or other. It was pretty much what I expected. There was Willy Nelson on the jukebox and that was OK because I happen to love Willy, especially when he sings old standard songs from the 40’s. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear him too well because the general noise level was so high everyone had to shout to be heard.
The serving people were wonderful and the food was really pretty good. No fish chowder, of course, and no Italian food. Fortunately, not too much Texas food, either. Ever have a Texan serve you deep fried carrots, or moon rock biscuits? The place was a challenge for a serious cholesterol counter, but I’m getting pretty good at avoiding trouble. Anyway, it was fun – the waiters even did some Texas style dancing a couple of times – like a yeehaw stomp, slap, chorus line. I was the only one in the whole place who applauded and thanked them.
Next weekend is Mother’s Day. Maybe I’ll be able to go out again, or better yet, stay home and have a bowl of fish chowder, a plate of pasta, and a sugar free dessert.
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