Monday, November 8, 2010

Cali Part One: 3000 Miles From Cheezits to Red Snapper

Some things have happened since my last long ago post, mostly spring & summer & hence gardening & nightswimming & long evenings outside & much less internet. Also some family happenings, & what says family history memory the most?
Yup, food (which shapes our lives, etc.).
My dear sister & I flew on a plane to California in October.
Being us, we ate things. Lots of things.
Through the Sky to Dallas & LA.
Airports, airplanes, drive-thrus, & our Gramparents' House: Cheezits in the air, Starbucks' Iced Caramel Macchiatos, a Blimpie's BLT sub in Dallas, "El Potato Burrito" @ Miguel's Jr, Grampa's Famous Stuffed Shells back on Eureka Street.
So we knew we were home, in that sense of being at home in one's own past,
Grampa's Roast Beef & Sides, AKA The Taste Of My ChildHood.
The meal that I thought of first when we planned the journey. The smell that still means "FOOD" to me. Roast beef covered in pepper & onions, whipped mashed potatoes with tons of butter, canned peas, steamed carrots.
I think this meal is why I like to eat, why I learned to cook. So I could produce this feeling myself. I still can't cook this right though. Better maybe, but not right.
A classic shopping adventure with Gramma, to a (at least to me) fabulously insane California mall restaurant, The Elephant Bar.
The Elephant Bar, where two girls from Massachusetts meet Americana + Sushi.
Seriously. We split a tempura shrimp roll, & then I had ahi tuna over brown rice with seaweed salad & smoked tofu, & Ali enjoyed mac n' cheese & coconut shrimp. All presented in a completely over the top fashion with oddly low lighting as befits a fancy/trashy mall restaurant. According to Gramma, the bar was also an excellent place to meet men. We unfortunately did not get a chance to check this out theory.
Although the Elephant Bar was a tough act to follow & Although I am 32 & Ali is 27 we will always be "the kids" to our grandparents, one night they actually let us cook dinner. This was a very difficult trip in many ways while it was also perfectly wonderful in others, & in one of our worst early moments we found a grocery store we liked, the delightful Henry's, & it saved everything. Shows what food, & the option to purchase the food you want, will do to save a situation. We took many, many a trip to Henry's to enjoy the lovely cashiers who did not look at us & our outfits like we were crazy freaks like pretty much everyone else in Corona, & buy very cheap but delicious California white wines to drink in the jacuzzi & avocados & tomatillos & chilis & lemons & grapefruits & other amazing California things. What can I say? We like to eat in our family. Those first bags of groceries we brought home from Henry's were a turning point.
On this particular night: Red Snapper, with Asparagus roasted with garlic & olive oil, Baked Potatoes, & Salad with excellent California tomatoes & bermuda onions.
I will admit I caved under pressure so this is my mom's classic recipe for baked fish with butter & bread crumbs (my Grampa's favorite, always), usually as we are from Cape Cod done with cod. & I never make baked potatoes & had to actually ask Ali how to do it. But Oh well I wanted Grampa to like it. At least I snuck in the asparagus, kind of controversial in that house as not a pea or a carrot.
Us two transplanted Massachusetts girls spent ten days in our second childhood home, & as you have noticed, it was complicated. Stayed tuned for the rest, Family & Food & Feeling, here we go.
& Red Convertibles! & Shopping! & Pumpkin Smoothies!

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