Saturday, August 18, 2007

Unforgettable Meals

While reading Death By Pad Thai I found myself thinking about meals I've had that I remember. In the book, all of the stories are about great meals and good times except for one, which was about an awful night first and a bad meal second.

It is easier for me to remember specific awful meals than the good ones.

The first time the timing belt on my Honda wagon broke, Shobi-wan and I were on our way back from Seattle. We rolled to a stop on the shoulder of I-5 outside Kelso-Longview, Washington. A man with a grey beard and a long-haired chihuahua ("The Aztecs ate the short-haired ones," he told us) gave us a ride to an auto shop from which I called Triple A.

The manager of the auto shop recommended a restaurant a couple blocks away where we could get a bite to eat. It had originally been called Ferguson's, but as it now served Italian food, the name had been changed to Fergustino's. I know that you are wondering why we took his advice, but Shobi-wan said that her father had been a mechanic and mechanics always knew the good and cheap places to eat, no matter how unlikely they seemed.

The restaurant had big windows and was nearly empty (though it wasn't really meal time, so that didn't tip us off), and even though it was July I remember that the skies were grey and so was the inside of the restaurant. We sat and I ordered a gin and tonic, to calm my nerves after the stress of getting the powerless car to the shoulder and dealing with all of that (though riding in a tow truck was pretty fun, that first time - I didn't know how tiresome I would eventually find it). I also ordered sausage cannelloni.

The G&T was strong, thank goodness. I sipped and Shobi-wan and I talked about what we were going to do. When the cannelloni came to the table, even to my untrained tongue it was obvious this noodle dish had come out of the freezer. I hadn't had a lot of Italian food at that point in my life, but I knew this wasn't a very good rendition of cannelloni. It had that sort of TV-dinner feel to it; the sauce was sweet, the noodle chewy, and the meat mushy and yet sawdust-like.

Oddly enough, Shobi-wan and I chose to spend the night in Kelso. Though not that far from Portland, we had no way to get back that day. The next morning we had breakfast at Denny's; you always get what you expect at Denny's. The car shop kept the Honda for a week. We went back via Greyhound and did not eat in Kelso that day.

1 comment:

Saipan Writer said...

Is it really easier to remember the bad meals than the good ones? I seem to have erased all of those from my mind--except the one where I accidentally dumped spaghetti on my new mother-in-law, and the one in college where the meatloaf was raw, and the... but those are all the ones I created!

I remember the first time I ever ate in a nice restaurant (I was 11), the first time I tried Chinese food--chow mein sub gum. Other firsts, too. I remember the great rib sandwiches from street vendors, and lots of other fabulous foods from many places.

Those bad restaurant meals--I've forgotten them. Completely. Totally. Permanently. Can't even dredge one up.

Must be a personal thing as to what we remember.

Maybe you are just better at finding amusement in horrible food than I am! :-)