Egg Custard Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My daughter, granddaughter Hannah and SIL Bill visited last night and we went to Applebee’s to celebrate the holiday weekend and catch up on recent events.
Years ago, David and his youngest son Tim frequented the local Hot Shop on Fridays for ‘all you can eat’ shrimp. When I worked at the Census Bureau, some of us regularly traveled to the nearest cafeteria where you could find, entrees, vegetables, desserts, etc. But Hot Shoppes went out of business, along with several other chains like Black Eyed Pea that catered to the noontime crowd by offering ‘soul food.’
David and I celebrate an anniversary this month and we have been discussing whether or not to “go out” to a fancy restaurant. In years past, we went to the Sebian Crown for Chateaubriand, a glass of Zinfandel for me, and romantic balalaika music.
These days David and I almost never eat in a “fancy” restaurant, although for years we did. And, I gained too much weight doing it. Not only did David and I eat in every fancy establishment in Washington from the Watergate Restaurant to San Souci, my various bosses (in the private sector) took staff to very nice restaurants downtown, or when we were traveling, to the best local restaurants (one of the locals attending these meetings always had assembled a list of eateries).
For example, on trips to NYC, my boss and I ate in the Windows on the World establishment at the top of the trade towers (rip 9-11) where he sometimes drank a bottle of wine by himself (AT&T had offices in the Trade Towers). On other trips, paid for by various groups like the Associated Press or American Demographics, I ate at the Waldorf Astoria. The last time David and I visited NYC we took my oldest granddaughters on the trip, and ate in museums, “hole-in-the wall” restaurants, or in the subway stations like the locals. We had great fun, except Amelia got sick from all the assorted foods.
I have thousands of match book covers, many of them from NYC, to remind me of those days when smoking occurred in most restaurants, and I always collected a book of matches with the restaurant logo.
If you were on a business trip, the alternative to eating at a nice local restaurant was what friend Kathy described as the “rubber chicken circuit,” where we ate meals frugally prepared for some group or other we had addressed as the featured speaker. I recall meals I had in Dayton Ohio, where I addressed the local business planners association on the finer points of demographic projections, New Jersey where I addressed a county school planning board, and others.
I doubt extravagant business meals occur quite as frequently these days. Jimmy Carter started the trend of cracking down on tax deductions for private sector “expenses” or “three-martini lunches.” Obama continued the attack when he critiqued conventions in Las Vegas. The politicians put a damper on fancy fare in the private sector. Meanwhile some government workers at GSA discovered Las Vegas.
After we retired, David and I turned to the local “hole-in-the-wall” eateries around here, many of them offering “ethnic” fare, or we eat at the hospital where I can get sushi. Our current favorite is a rrestaurant based on New Zealand cuisine(lots of green mussels and the full English breakfast David loves). Some of the restaurants are superb, unfortunately they are also fattening. Most are tolerable when you don’t feel like cooking and your spouse has burned his thumbs on the outdoor grill. I like Mexican food, but boy is it loaded with fat. Ditto most of the Asian dishes, except Moo Goo Gai Pan and summer rolls with uncooked rice paper wrappings….according to Weight Watchers.
Oh to be in England where they have pub food?? NOT. Better yet, those delectable bistros in France or fish houses on the Costa del Sol. Cheap grub, but tasty. Oh wait, I gained 10 pounds on every overseas trip. Perhaps it’s good that we don’t have delectable food on every corner.
Lost one more pound this week. Began cooking again in self-defense. I even made Mom’s banana custard using some of Bill’s eggs. Yum. Used Splenda, only 9 points per large dish. (who can eat a small one?)