Menu Mix up

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I am a foodie. That means I love food, and I’m not picky.

I need to clarify…I love to EAT food. And though I am a pretty good cook, I’d rather eat out, when funds allow. So I have to cook a lot. I am also NOT a chef; I don’t have the patience.

In my earlier years, I lived in seven different states, and believe it or not, with each move I discovered that every state has its own claim to food fame.

While living in North Carolina, Brunswick Stew was the specialty. Here on the coast, Frogmore Stew (Lowcountry Boil) is popular. But living among Italian, Polish, and German people in New York and Pennsylvania, ethnic foods are served up.

I discovered that no one can make Italian food like a true Italian. Give it up, people. Nothing around here comes close, and in South Carolina, homemade spaghetti sauce is really glorified chili.

Several years ago, a lady from Italy was visiting a nearby family in my neighborhood. I met her while walking, and we had a lovely conversation, mostly about food. I mentioned that I had not had true Italian food since I was a child living in Buffalo, New York. The next day she showed up at my front door with homemade, from scratch, spaghetti and meatballs. I almost cried.

My mother is an amazing cook and every place we lived, she learned how to cook and bake those ethnic meals. So in our home, we kids learned to eat all sorts of things like stuffed artichokes, Polish sausage and perogies.

A perogy is a spoonful of mashed potatoes (and sometimes added cheese) with dough wrapped around it and steamed or deep fried. It’s surprising that southerners didn’t think of that first, since we deep fry everything, and yet it was the Polish who figured out how to deep fry mashed potatoes.

Not everyone has had the opportunity to learn to eat a variety of foods. My husband was one. His mom cooked to please his dad. Everything was fried, and there was always gravy and rice at every meal. She made the best fried chicken I ever put in my mouth, but I was always shocked when I ate there…everything on the plate was brown. Steak, chicken, rice and gravy, field peas, and chocolate pudding. In my home, my mother would have laid down and died…we had to have colorful members of the four basic food groups, all neatly arranged on the plate.

But over time, my husband learned to adapt…or he would have starved. I knew nothing about country cooking. But that’s a story for another day.

Our children were raised to appreciate different foods and whenever we could stretch a penny, we would take them out to a restaurant and teach them about trying different things. They still eat that way today and are not remotely picky about anything.

As for my husband and myself, our favorite thing to do together is go to a new restaurant and try something different.

We have been to a restaurant several times in North Charleston that is near our grandchildren. Since it is so close to their house, we have eaten there more than just about anywhere else. But last week, we decided we were tired of eating there. We found ourselves in Mount Pleasant for a doctor’s appointment and decided to find and try a new trendy restaurant.

It was pouring down rain and difficult to see restaurant names, but we saw a snazzy place and decided to go in and eat.

Excited, we went in, were seated, and handed a menu.

It was odd, but something felt off about the place. Scanning the menu, it began to dawn on me that everything on it was familiar.

My husband and I looked up at each other and burst out laughing.

We had just sat down in the sister restaurant of the one where we routinely dine in North Charleston. The menus were identical.

Oh, well. We ate anyway and were pleased to note that the two restaurants differ slightly in how the food is prepared, so we had a great time.

But what are the odds that we would walk into the exact same restaurant in Mount Pleasant?

For us? Pretty good.

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