Let’s get the biz part over fast. In an effort to make use of some of those MANY cookbooks lining your shelves, some (most?) of which you haven’t opened in a year, we’re doing a fun giveaway here called Cookbook Hoarders United. Just try a recipe from one of your orphaned cookbooks (one you haven’t used in a year or more, or never used) and tell us about it by clicking “comment” above. For every recipe you try, you’ll be entered for one chance at a giveaway of a copy of an autographed novel AND a silly kitchen gadget. Behold Yolky, this month’s gadget. Separate eggs with ease by perching Yolky on the side of your bowl. Need more info on what to do? You can find that here.
There are days, though, when going into the kitchen is akin to going to the endodontist. Those are the days when eating out sounds just about perfect. Eating anywhere. Cluck in a Bucket, Stephanie Plum style. Big Bang Burger Bar, from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Der Krazy Kraut from the Simpsons. Anywhere.
Sunday was one of those days for us. We had fallen prey to a Groupon coupon, and had bought a $40 certificate for $20 to a new brew pub one suburb over. So we trotted over to the pub to see what was on the menu. We’ve learned from past experiences that if we hold on to a coupon, we don’t use it before it expires or disappears–witness the Taste of Morocco coupon somewhere in my office that expired six months ago. After half-raw mussels and a $7 dessert the size of a silver dollar, we remembered why restaurants go the coupon route. And still, ever-hopeful, we continue to play the game.
Novelists invent restaurants to give readers one more clue about who their character really is. Wanda, from my Happiness Key series, was a favorite waitress at a down home joint called The Dancing Shrimp, but didn’t make the cut when the building became Gaylord’s, an upscale tapas bar. That was really all you needed to know about Wanda. My book in progress has a place called Cuppa, which really says a great deal about Harmony, the character who’s a server there and the city of Asheville, where it’s located.
By the same token, the restaurants we choose in real life say a lot about who we are. For the same reason I wear comfortable shoes and don’t understand four-inch heels, I like comfortable restaurants. I shy away from starched linen tablecloths because I invariably spill something. I like friendly, efficient service and tables that aren’t right on top of other tables. I like seafood, fresh vegetables, innovative pasta dishes and bread that didn’t come straight off the shelves at Costco. I don’t expect huge portions, and I don’t expect ten page menus. I’m learning that those little down-home restaurants are not always better than some of the chains, and right now, my favorite restaurant is just around the corner, with great pizza from a wood burning oven and entree salads, predictable quality and don’t-need-a-second-mortgage prices. But the first time I went there? I wasn’t impressed. I only went back because the restaurant next door was closed for the day.
So maybe I’ll try that little pub again someday, although I’ll never order their mussels. How about you? You haven’t YET pulled out the old cookbook to try that new recipe, and tonight won’t be the night for your old standard either. Where will you go and why?
Better yet, exactly what does your choice say about you?