The eternal question: Where do you want to eat? | Column | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | September 9, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: September 6, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Did you hear about the couple who’s eaten at every Cracker Barrel restaurant in America?
For decades, Indiana residents Ray and Wilma Yoder have chowed down at Cracker Barrels from South Carolina to Oregon. (They also worked in side trips to the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.) Their shared hobby led them to 645 Cracker Barrels from sea to shining sea.
It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Not the fact that they don’t weigh 386 pounds each from all those biscuits and gravy. (Their preferred meals are actually pancakes, meat loaf and the grilled chicken sandwich.)
Not the fact that few restaurant chains are open after 45 years.
Not the fact that they found a parking place at every Cracker Barrel.
Not the fact that they’ve been married for 60 years, and still want to be together on the daily.
Nope… what astounds me is that 645 times, a man and woman agreed on where to eat. That, my friends, is a miracle.
Every married couple understands: “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know, where do YOU want to go?”
It’s easier to just order in a pizza — but that’s not an option for me and Widdle, because we live 14 miles from the closest restaurant. If we want a meal we didn’t make, we have to get dressed, get in the car and drive.
That’s assuming we can actually decide where to go.
The preamble begins around mid-afternoon on Saturday, when we realize we don’t have the ingredients or the energy to actually put food on plates.
“Where would you like to go?” I ask, because I’m a nice wife.
“I make decisions all week long. You choose,” he says.
“Okay, Mexican!” I chirp.
“No… it’s too hot for Mexican. How about barbecue?”
“I don’t eat meat,” I remind him.
“Are you still on that kick?” (It’s been five years.)
“How about a big salad?” I suggest.
“Honey, I’m not a goat. Maybe some soup.”
“It’s 90 degrees and you want soup. Of course. Hey, what about Italian?”
“No, Italian gives me heartburn.”
After a while, one of us just stops answering and the decision is made by default.
Once we’re over that hump, we scope out the menu online. It’s fun deciding what to order when we get there.
We arrive, get a table and grab a menu — which never matches what’s online — and the true fun begins.
“Maybe I’ll just have appetizers,” I say. “The fried green tomatoes and the baked mushrooms sound good.”
“Ugh,” he says. “How about the crab dip?”
“I die if I eat shellfish,” I remind him, and by “remind” I mean kick his ankle.
“Ow! It’s so weird I can’t remember that,” he says.
“So weird. We went to Maine so you could have lobster three times a day, and I ate saltines,” I say, and by “say” I mean hiss.
“Look, fried okra! And grits! Get both,” he says, knowing the way to my heart.
In the end we do what we always do, which is order something completely different from what we’d planned. If we’re at a steakhouse, he orders the chicken. If we’re at a Chinese restaurant, I order fish. (Neither one of us ever order sushi, him because he’s never tried it and me because I have.)
When the food arrives, we swap and share until our plates look nothing like any dish on the menu.
We should go to Cracker Barrel more. Widdle can get a burger and I’ll have veggies. Who knows, maybe we’ll figure out that peg game.
(Julie R. Smith, who takes 15 minutes to order a side salad, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)