By Phil LaMancusa
Bad Liver and A Broken Heart
It's my Pate and I'll Cry if I Want To
I refuse to believe that my life is passing me by; rather, I believe I just saw it ride by me on a bicycle, going in the opposite direction! It is for this reason I think more about the food that I've eaten than the food that I have yet to cook. Let me explain.
First, about that bicycle. As inoffensably politically correct as I can state, I hererby declare that as a full and rich blooded ---------, naturally (and I think that it has something to do with nature), I am very attracted to, and I mean very attracted to--------------------- (fill in the blanks). Especially on bikes!. Whew!
As a person that has seen over a half century of life go by, I realize, all too sadly, that there would not be a sane person in that category that would find the least bit of attraction for this seasoned veteran at this particular stage of his physical form. That's one of the "facts" of life that used to really depress me. In fact, it depressed the holy !@@##$%$% out of me.
What did I do? Simple. I applied, as I do in such cases, irrational philosophical reverse logic fantasy. In other words, I made up a story that made me feel better.
Here's the story. That --------- (read: HOT NUMBER!) that I see passing through my life is actually on their way to meet me in some other point of time; either in my future or in my past. I know that that's probably not true, but who's to say? It works for me.
Now you say; "Phil, what the hell does that have to do with the food that you've eaten?"
And I say: "that was a trip on the "segue" bus; and, I wanted to get it out of the way before getting to the real subject."
Which is this: While I'm cooking breakfast for the gang at work, my thoughts are saying: "Mama used to cook potatoes in a cast iron skillet. I had to make sure, and darn sure, that there was not the least bit of peel or blemish on the potatoes after I peeled them. We didn't call them "hash browns" they were "home fries". Those puffed ones at Antoine"s were sure funny, huh? What about that dose of cream and cheese in the ones I had in San Francisco, whew, what a heavy hit!, remember the midway in New Jersey where they supplied vinegar as a condiment for french fries so hot they'd burn the roof of your mouth if you weren't careful?. Why do they call them "French" anyway" and on and on and on. Instead of "being here now" I find myself "being there later"…. sometimes much later.
Either I'm getting old, going crazy, or I've cooked and eaten a hell of a lot of potatoes. I prefer to think the last is probably the most true; although, I would not rule out the other two. If my theory is correct (going with my "lotta spuds" theory) that would explain the other culinary mind ramblings that I've been experiencing; lately:
My Grandmother never used a cutting board or a recipe. She went shopping, got what she needed, cleaned the product, as was it's wont, and then simply cut it directly into the pot/sauce pan/skillet, no muss no fuss, just good cooking. How come professional Chefs can't/don't/won't do that today?
We were raised in a mixed neighborhood and the smells of corn beef and cabbage mingled with spaghetti and meat sauce, fried chicken, and black beans with fresh tortillas. We never thought of it as "ethnic food"; to us it was just "dinner". Where did this "ethnic" crap come from? When did we stop calling it 'The Italian Place', or 'That Arab/Greek/Chinese Joint'?
Everybody's Dad could fix their own car, everybody's Mom could cook a chicken. Everybodys chicken was different, but, it was the same chicken. (Things that make you go "hmmmmmm?") The same chicken.
Ten years ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you where a Vegan was from. Now, I'm having an affair with one.
Do you remember the wonderful aromas coming from that potato chip factory by Elysian Fields and Decatur?
What was the name of that donut factory that you could go to at four in the morning? And don't it remind you of the smell coming up through the gratings outside the Royal Sonesta?
How much was beans and rice at Buster's as far back as you can remember? Did you even ever have them? Have you ever had better?
I can still feel that sick, gut knotting, nauseousness I got that time, with forks poised, she told me she "needed more space". Ironically it was a hearts of palm salad, and I still can't eat one to this day.
God, I hate the taste of sour milk!
Well, there. That's it. Of course there's more but you get the gist; how much can you take? And besides, I'll never get published going over 1,000 words
This piece is on the drawing board right now; BUT, should you ever see it published, please feel free to unburden yourselves of your own culinary stumbling blocks by writing to me in care of these guys, whoever they may be.
That'll show'em we're a force to be reckoned with; people afflicted with "Deja Food" or "haven't I eaten this before?"