[Sca-cooks] Why *X* and not *Y*?

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sat Aug 2 09:24:41 PDT 2008

On Aug 2, 2008, at 11:11 AM, Alexandria Doyle wrote:

> My granddaughter is one who will try anything, especially if it's
> weird.  She will also chose a sit down restaurant over fast food any
> day and rarely orders off the kid's menu if she can help it. Chinese
> is her favorite.

For some reason you remind me of a hitherto-forgotten incident in the  
checkered career of The Evil Spawn (who, for all that I often refer to  
him in this way, is a fairly decent kid raised by crazy parents with  
impossibly high standards). When he was five or six, we were running  
some errands on foot on one of the commercial strips around the  
neighborhood, and stopped for lunch at what might be a rather peculiar  
establishment elsewhere in the US, but which is pretty common in my  
area: it's a restaurant that specializes in slow-roasted rotisserie  
chicken with vaguely Latino seasonings, but run almost entirely by  
Chinese people. They serve a mix of vaguely Latino and Chinese foods,  
and service is distinctly informal. You walk in, order at the counter,  
sit down, and depending on the time of day, what day it is and how  
busy they are, they'll either call you when your order is ready or  
someone, ranging from the college-student daughter of the family, to  
some mildly surly but basically pleasant fry-or-prep cook, will bring  
your order to you on actual plates (assuming you have not informed  
them you want it to go).

On a subsequent occasion some months after the first time we had gone  
in there with Brennan, we were on a similar errand run, needed a break  
of some sort, and it turned out to be more or less the traditional  
lunch time, so we figured we'd stop someplace and eat something.  
Within a one-city-block (roughly 300 feet) radius, options included  
the local pizzeria, two diners (one of which sported the Evil  
Seinfeldian waiter who always managed to find a way to snatch a  
negative experience at the last possible second from the jaws of a  
positive one), a new Subway franchise -- bleah, McDonald's -- double  
bleah, and various other options, depending on how far we felt like  
walking and how much time we wanted to spend doing this.

So, I put it to the kid, "Okay, B., where do you want to go?" "I don't  
know." "Ya want pizza? A burger? A sandwich? Irish bacon and fried   
tomatoes on batch bread?" (Yeah, you can get that here.) "Noooo... I  
don't know..."
"I feel like going someplace fancy."
"Yeah. Someplace nice, where you go and sit down and a nice waiter or  
waitress beings you a menu, and sets the table, and brings you food..."
"Uhh, okay. Whatcha got in mind? Donovan's is kind of far away..."

We went over the various option, and after much process of  
elimination, it turned out that the "someplace fancy" he had had in  
mind was the sleazy rotisserie chicken place. For a long time I  
couldn't imagine what was fancy about it, until I realized he just  
wanted to sit down and have food brought to him, preferably by a  
smiling young lady, on a real plate.

Hard to argue with that, I guess. It was just a little unexpected, is  
all. I'm picturing the young lady polishing the stainless-steel  
flatware and plastic chopsticks with the paper napkins from the  
dispenser on the table. Yep. Fancy... ;-).

Dat B-man's one classy guy, ya know whud I'm sayin'?

> Recently she had the chance to try lamb (Not something prepared at
> home from one of those histories of my mom's father didn't like it and
> my dad didn't either so my mother never bothered with it so it's not
> common in our diet) While I liked the selection, she didn't.  She
> isn't sure about liver I think, only had a small bite of it once.
> It's a texture thing there for her.

Well, liver's kind of strongly-flavored compared to some other meats;  
your best bet to get a kid to eat it might be to use it in some dilute  
form, like German liver dumplings, liverwurst, a mousse (which many  
people call paté, but isn't). Oddly enough, most of the kids I've  
known and spent any time with have all really liked haggis. Strange,  
perhaps, but true. Catch them young, before someone has filled their  
heads with stories about how disgusting it all is, and they seem to  
like it almost invariably.

On the other hand, the aforementioned Evil Spawn, who would eat almost  
anything prior to entering the school system, became rather a pill  
after spending some time sitting in a school cafeteria over the lovely  
frozen animal-shaped chicken poopies. I imagine he'd tell his buddies  
something like how his favorite foods were fried squid with roasted  
five-spice salt, and a whole steamed tilefish with ginger and  
scallions (the head is the best part!). There may have been some  
negative peer pressure to conform to another standard for a while.  
This included newly-acquired, atrocious table manners, chewing with  
his mouth open, and announcing that everything was gross. He got over  
it, but it was rough for a while.

He's older now, approaching eighteen, and there's this young lady  
friend of his. She's hard-working, studious, and rather attractive for  
a kid; her parents are from China and Myanmar, respectively. A while  
back I had just cooked dinner, which by coincidence was a coconut and  
chicken soup, Burmese shrimp curry, spinach with tamarind, and steamed  
rice with a fried-onion topping called balachaung. He called from  
somewhere in the neighborhood, and I suggested he might like to bring  
this young lady home with him and have dinner with us. He suggested I  
might be certifiably insane, and that perhaps the young lady might  
prefer some "normal" food, but thanked me on her behalf for the  
invitation. He then told her, later, about all the weird stuff I had  
cooked, how he had saved her from a fate worse than death. He came  
home with a really nice purple bruise on his shoulder; apparently she  
hadn't had anything like that since her grandmother passed away.


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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