Friday, May 30, 2008

Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!

I love to go out to breakfast at a little diner near home. It's got all the classic style, fry cook visible from the counter, eggs, bacon, pancakes and sausage sizzling continuously. Hash browns or home fries, big buttermilk biscuits. Mmmm, heart death. I love it. But owing to the fact that eating there is equivalent to mainlining cholesterol, I limit my visits to about once a month. Last Saturday was that day, and I arrived to duly absorb my 11,000 calories with anticipation.

And the place was closed. In the intervening month, the old fry cook had sold out and a new joint was opening. Alarums! They weren't quite ready, but said I should come back later. Or the next day.

Anxious, I fled to the French place down the street, where I had a perfectly good breakfast of eggs with tomato, cheese, and pesto. Turned out that's where our very own Jess Lourey had breakfast too, in town with Dana Fredsti for a signing, though I wouldn't know that until an hour later when we met up at Murder by the Book. But I digress. As I am wont to do.

So the next day my wife and I headed back to the new restaurant, filled with trepidation. I ordered my usual, chicken-fried steak, eggs over medium, potatoes and toast. Coffee with cream.

Everything was . . . different. I don't want to say bad, because if I were to analyze it objectively, I think the meal was nicely done. The sausage gravy was a different color, and the chicken-fried steak patty a different shape. The potatoes weren't my accustomed deep-fried and golden brown, but kinda fancified. The eggs were eggs.

But it was different, and I, um, well. I didn't like it. I think if I'd discovered it fresh, no clue what came before and no experience of the previous fare, I probably would have enjoyed it. Probably would have decided, "once a month in this joint would be nice. Not too much, but enough." But, no. It's different. Weird. I don't like it.

And then it hit me. Holy shit, I'm a serial eater. I like what I like and I don't want some fancy-pants restauranteur coming along and throwing the culinary equivalent of a standalone at me, or, heaven forbid, try to get me going on a new breakfast series. I want my old breakfast back, tried and true. Patty properly shaped, gravy properly hued, potatoes properly fried.

But I can't have it. The author has moved on, made a choice that was better for him, no matter how I feel about it. Crap, now what am I going to do?


As I type this, I'm imagining where I will be when my legions of fans finally get to read it (Hi, Mom!) Where I may be is standing in the security line at the Portland International Airport. Or maybe the plane has taken off, or maybe even landed in Los Angeles already. Maybe I've arrived at the Los Angeles Convention Center, maybe I have my badge and am standing in amazement at Book Expo America. Maybe it's evening already and I'm drinking. Wherever I am, I will have left my computer behind. I figure it will be a busy weekend and in all likelihood the laptop lid would remain closed, so I'm just leaving the sucker home. That means I won't be able to check in on discussions here until Monday, but I will. In the meantime, have a great weekend. I suspect I will.


Dana Fredsti said...

I feel your pain about the change of recipe. Change can be a good thing, but NOT when it takes away our comfort routines!

Jessica Lourey said...

That French restaurant was pretty good though, no? I had the eggs, tomato, and pesto, too, and since it wasn't a second choice for me, I loved it.

I can't wait to hear about BEA.

Keith Raffel said...

One family had been running the Village Cheese House in Palo Alto for half a century. Then they sold it. It's reopened. And guess what? The sandwiches are exactly the same. As good as ever. The new owners conferred with the old ones to make certain they got it right. Whew.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

We are strange creatures of habit, whether it be our reading or our eating.

Great seeing you at BEA, Bill!

G.M. Malliet said...

Anyone know where BEA is next year? LA again? I hope to make it next time...sounds like you guys had a blast.