Thursday, December 9, 2010

The one where I admit to watching far too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares.

My grandmother's funeral was today.  It was a beautiful service followed by a rather crispy short bit at the cemetery.  My car thermometer registered 26 degrees, and that didn't factor in wind chill.

Anyhow, the family traveled on to do ye ole traditional post funeral meal.  They chose a mom and pop joint.  The one and only time I had been there was probably about 15 years ago with my grandmother.  I had ham and au gratin potatoes and a slice of peanut butter pie.  I don't recall having been terribly impressed, but it was what everyone settled on, so I went with it. 

When we got there, my silverware was dirty, but since everyone seemed to be on a first name basis with the waitress, I just traded with the silverware next to me. 

I decided that as crispy as it was today, chili sounded wonderful.  It was one of the specials and I was good with that. 

My sister needed some culinary guidance, though.

"I think that the crab cake sandwich sounds great!"

"Um, LeAnne, you live in middle America far away from any ocean.  I don't think that is your best bet." 

Insert more detail:  My sister lived in and near Baltimore. Her crab cake obsession started there.  It took her through pregnancies.  There is an ocean nearby.  Crab cakes in Baltimore are fresh.  I was certain that the ones here were canned/frozen . . . certainly not fresh.

"Good point.  I'm a crab cake snob."

"Here is not your place, then.  It is not even a fish joint.  You don't want to do that."

Then she decides to settle on the ham and au gratin potatoes. 

"Um, LeAnne, I don't mean to veto another for you, but the potatoes are not homemade."

"Are you sure?"

"It's what I had here years ago."

"I'm sure that they've changed.  I'm sure that they are homemade!" 

So her dad asks the waitress that he is on first name basis with and bingo!  They ARE from a box.  "But they are pretty good, though."  I can tell you that they are box, they taste like box and if that's what works for you, you are in business.  If homemade is what your heart longs for, box ain't gonna cut it.

She finally decided on the grilled chicken breast salad.  It had to be a full head of iceberg lettuce served up in a severely chipped woven wood salad bowl.  Mine was a lovely bowl of chili that was great and even better when they dressed it up with sour cream and cheese. 

It takes me to the day after Grandma died.  It was the funeral prep day.  It was another day where they had settled on having a meal together and they went to a different mom and pop.  I hadn't heard shining reviews, so I got the chef's salad.  I also got homemade rice pudding that was beyond delightful.  (With a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon and a dallop of real whipped topping.)

I'm glad to report that neither establishment had photos on the menu, but they did have a span of choices which left me thinking, "Chef Ramsay would have a field day in this place."

Smiles in my day:
-  The beautiful service for my grandmother.  Of course, the pastor joked with me about people "stealing all his material," but that is what happened to me.  Most of what I was going to say overlapped with what he said, but I still had some tidbits. 
-  My sight impaired and mobility deficient aunt got up from the family seating at the cemetery and decided to lean on my grandmother's casket to steady herself.  That sent grandma swinging wildly back and forth in her box and we thought that she was going to take an early header into the hole.  If you can do nothing other than laugh, why not?

Have a great day!


Rach said...

Oh my! What an image to leave us with! :o) I'm sure Grandma would have appreciated the humor of the situation as well. ;o)

I've worked in a Mom and Pop type place, and although the food isn't always *wonderful*, I can tell you, it is a MUCH more pleasant atmosphere than the chains I worked for. The clientele are nicer and they get to know you, and well, it's an entirely different experience. It's like apples and oranges, really. Oh, and the owners were all far nicer to work for than the GM's of the other restaurants I was at. Go figure.

Bailey's Leaf said...

I work for a mom and pop shop and completely get what you are talking about. As with every place, there are positives and negatives. The help has apparently been there forever and seem very happy. In fact, they were contemplating tip and 15% and whatnot. (I thought 15% was out!) I always tip very good waitress' at least at 20%, so encouraged them to do so as well. Let's hope that they listened.

Yes, the ride Grandma got was rather hilarious. Oy.

concretenprimroses said...

Sorry about the loss of your grandma. Good for you for figuring our the best of the restaurant.