Monday, December 23, 2013

Ring In the Bells With Menu


Apple Gorgonzola Salad
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Caribou Tenderloin
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Chili-Spiced Roasted Acorn Squash
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Almond-Chocolate Blondies with Spirited Irish Coffee

It's almost Christmas; heavy blankets of snow are lounging on the trees outside my window (another six inches during the night), and I'm thinking of what to serve for dinner. The plan is to dine early, around one-ish, strap on snowshoes for the  traditional river walk where we break open "light sticks" and hang them on spruce trees. When our cheeks are notably reddened, we hike back home and break open a bottle of wine to redden the cheeks a tad bit more. As daylight fades, from above on our little mountain, we can see the faint yellow and orange glow on the trees in the distance.  

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Ah, yes. J.R.R. Tolkien surely had it right. While thinking of my dinner menu, I came across vintage menu covers, works of art from decades ago when the only people who "ate out" at restaurants were the eccentric and wealthy, well before hot food served on silver platters became, in a sense, democratized, or inexpensive enough for everyone to enjoy. It was in the 1940's and 50's when the American economy, right after the war, was chugging along super well. With the building of interstate highways and a new mobility, plus increased income to spend, independent restaurants began popping up all over the country. To gain a sense of identity, a good deal of money was invested in the design of restaurant menus by artists of the day.


I'm not so sure hamburgers and french fries are all that good for your health (as they claim), but I'm told by a friend in California how her parents found it a treat to take the family to McDonnell's in Los Angeles. Sort of a pre-cursor to the McDonald's empire of today. They reportedly served some of the state's best and freshest fried chicken in the land; their poultry raised right down the road on a 200-acre ranch.





















I wish I would have been around to dine at A-Sabella's Fish Grotto in San Francisco. I am a great lover of fresh seafood: stuffed sole with scallops, coconut shrimp with apricot mango sauce. Yum! A-Sabella's also advertised "Italian Style Spaghetti", meaning perhaps, before the average American household used garlic and olive oil in their kitchens, A-Sabella's did, and at their tables, you were getting the authenticity of a real Italian red sauce to cover your choice of pasta.

My, oh my. How about the Ritz? This one was located in Moscow, Pennsylvania which today boasts a population of a lick above 2,000. How did it serve up such a lively "night out on the town" with so few people, well before census takers knocked on our doors?

Was the Ritz a well-kept secret in its day?

I love the 1940's cover.

It reads: "Stop and spend a social hour in harmless mirth and fun.

Let friendship reign. Be just and kind and evil speak of none.

And in the interest of providing clients the best in entertainment, food and drinks, this super-classy club is requesting that each person spend at least $1 for the evening."

Wow! A buck for the whole night? Wonder what that got you besides dancing, naked ladies?

Merriment is indeed, harmless.


Could you imagine dining at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1939?

Here's what they served the Steinways (the famous piano people):

Petite Marmite Henri IV (huh?)

Hearts of Celery (do they beat somewhere in the stalk?)

Crown of Bass Newburg (do they mean just the head?)

Breast of Chicken Montmorency (huh? again)

Black Cherries (I got this one)

New Green Peas (as opposed to old?)

I bet it was the superlative of delicious.


Allow me to ring in the bells with menu as we eat a healthy meal at home. No restaurants to drive to; no traffic, no noise, except the cheesy Christmas tunes we love to play, like Alvin and the Chipmunks:

"Want a plane that loops-de-loop. Me, I want a Hula-Hoop. We can hardly stand the wait. Please, Christmas, don't be late!"


As of this writing, I remember my immediate family of seven, my parents who have passed on, my brothers and sister who live a day's plane ride from my home in Alaska.

And I chuckle, thinking of them.

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years, she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."    -calvin trillin

We never went hungry, though.
There was always good food to share.

Who needs a menu, really?

Sit down with your friends and family and break bread.
And have yourself a very, Merry Christmas.







4 comments:

  1. I'm a diner guy, having spent many memorable holidays in diners across the country, avoiding traveling all the way home to family and chaos. Was easier saying I was down with flat tire or a snow storm or maybe rickets.. Family forgave me as I snuck in later in the week.. At least I didn't smell of jail or soup kitchen.. I smelled of diner coffee and grilled cheese, not so bad. Yes, leftovers and dinner rolls that were forgotten at the big meal.. (I wasn't there to remind).. This year, I sit at home alone, gonna have a ham sandwich, corn, and smashed potatoes.. invite to cat to join me, but she never does.. I'll treat the two mini-poodles next door to some Pup-peroni treats.. and they'll show me love and licks for an hour. Ah, the holidays.. At least I have friends whom I love and hope love me back... have a great family holiday! me

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  2. I can smell the grilled cheese sand! From many friends who live afar, loves to you, Mike.
    Looking forward to seeing you in August...2014 (the sprint of time boggles my mind)

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  3. Lovely and fun post. My yesterday's menu? Morning coffee. Late-for-lunch veggie lasagne, potato dumplings 300 miles away. Last night's motel room supper? Muesli bread, cheese, a fine local Christmas ale and chocolate.

    Today, I get a second piece - and maybe a third - of the splendiferous pecan pie I took to my friends. Then? It's time for the new regime. No waiting for New Year's or resolutions - it's healthy eating time. When I get to the point I'm craving broccoli, it's a clear sign of overindulgence!

    Best to you - I'm ready for the New Year and its challenges. I suspect you might be, too.

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  4. When all is said and done, I think my favorite of the day, especially when traveling, is bread, cheese, ale and chocolate...the four food groups, sorta. Then outside into the fresh clean air for a walk!

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