Thursday, March 25, 2010

Memories Of Food

It’s one-thirty in the morning and what am I doing? I’m sitting in front of this god-damn computer thinking about food. Not just any kind of food. Food that I will never be able to enjoy again – because either the people that made it are gone or the restaurants that I enjoyed them at no longer exist.

Memories of Food

I love ribs! Especially pork ribs drenched in barbeque sauce with meat that falls off the bone. In Port Huron, Michigan there’s a restaurant called “Chicken Shack” and they got pretty decent ribs and their fried broasted potatoes are a treat in themselves – but neither of them can compare to this rib dinner that I use to get at this bar/restaurant on the corner of Hill Road and Saginaw in Grand Blanc, Michigan. (I wish I could remember the name of the place – the restaurant was also located at one time on South Saginaw Street just past where the light was at Center Road). What made these ribs so damn good was the sauce – it was thick – but it sweeten the taste of the ribs oh so delicately and they would place your slab of ribs on the top of their cottage fries and the juice from the ribs and the sauce took these thinly sliced fries to a whole new level. I have had some pretty good ribs in my time – but nothing that could compare to the ribs at this restaurant. I know that there’s going to be someone from the Flint area that will tell me that nothing could compare to the ribs at the old PX and they’re probably right…but I never had a chance to enjoy a slab of ribs from the famous PX – which is my loss.

Man can not live on just meat alone -- that’s why there’s salad. My Cousin Shirley’s first husband, George, use to own Broadway Coney Island on the east side of Flint, Michigan. For a long time – George’s restaurant was located on Broadway and Franklin, just a block away from Flint’s most famous Coney Island restaurant – Angelo’s. He eventually moved Broadway Coney Island to the corner of Leith and Franklin and that was the location where I would go and enjoy one of George’s Chef Salads. Let me tell you right from the get-go – this salad was nothing fancy – but it was good and I have never been able to duplicate that taste – but I can remember it like it was yesterday.

George would take one of his standard dinner plates and plop a couple fistfuls of lettuce and chopped onions on top of it. Then he would take out a piece of the roast pork and roast beef that he used for his dinners and sandwiches and slice them into strips. Then he would take a slice or two of your standard American pasteurized cheese and slice them into strips and then serve it to you with that orange colored French dressing that you seem to find in every Coney Island restaurant in every city. I know that it doesn’t sound like much -- but damn was it delicious and I have never been able to find another salad like the one George would serve at Broadway Coney Island.

My memories of good food aren’t limited to just restaurants – because if you’re lucky – the best food that you’ll ever eat will always be at home. When it comes to good food – Sunday dinners should be in a category all by itself. My Mom and her second husband, Steve Rosa, really did Sunday dinners proud and it was usually centered around chicken. Most of the time it was fried chicken and other times it was Hungarian chicken and rice – and if you know the Rosa family – they never made just a “little bit of red rice” – they made enough rice to last for days.

My Mom and Steve’s fried chicken is another one of those items that I have never been able to find anywhere or see duplicated anywhere. The both of them made the chicken and it was a team effort all of the way – from cutting up the chicken, skinning the chicken, dipping it in egg and then rolling it in bread crumbs before they placed it into a pan of hot bubbling Mazola oil to cook. I think part of the good flavor of the chicken came from the pan – they always used this one oval shaped pan and the bread crumbs weren’t just any bread crumbs – it was dry bread crumbs that they made and seasoned themselves from loaves of dried Mother’s Bread from the Balkan Bakery.

(It should be noted that after we attended Sunday mass at Sacred Heart Church – we would drive over to the Balkan Bakery in Flint where my step-father would pick up maybe 8-10 loaves of Balkan Bread each week. A few of the loaves we would eat throughout the week….a few more loaves were placed inside of our oven to dry and then be ground down into bread crumbs…and the rest of the loaves he would share with his brother.)

There was something about my Mom and step-father’s fried chicken. I love to eat the skin on fried chicken – but you didn’t miss the skin not being on my parents’ fried chicken – you just enjoyed it!

I also have great memories of some of the baked goods that my Mom use to make. Everyone in our family was a big fan of my Mom’s carrot cake and there was a running joke that if there was any kind of family get-together, event, etc., my Mom had to make the carrot cake. I like carrot cake – but the cream cheese frosting on the top of it was too sweet for me.

When it comes to my Mom’s baked goods – I was a sucker for her frosted cinnamon rolls. My Mom never made small cinnamon rolls – each one of her cinnamon rolls was about the size of the upper peninsula of Michigan and each one of them were delicious. The dough that she made the cinnamon rolls with was sweet and the thing you had to do was to put it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds and then eat them. Slowly unraveling the roll until you got to that center which usually was filled with a burst of cinnamon and sugar. If you could eat two of these cinnamon rolls with a cup of coffee – you were doing good – and if your sugar levels didn’t go bonkers – then something was wrong with you.

I’m looking at the clock and it’s damn near two-thirty. Time goes by fast when you think of food. It also makes you hungry….so….I might as well wrap this up and grab a peanut butter sandwich or something.

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