Now vs. then

Emily and I have been hitting the local restaurants out east, sitting at the bar for dinner.  It is fun.  We have been into splitting a bunch of appetizers so we can taste a variety of different things and for the two of us, it is just the right amount. 

We started talking about what I ate when I was a kid when we went out.  Truth is, we only went out for dinner on Sunday nights with my Grandma and her husband.  We had dinner at the same place, generally.  Old Washingtonian spots where a lot of people ate dinner every night.  I usually had the prime rib with a baked potato unless we shook it up and went out for Chinese food.  Otherwise, we had dinner at home. The constant changing of restaurants and the new, new didn’t really start to take place until the end of high school.   

We had the basics, roasted chicken, ribs, coq au vin, salad, etc.  My Mom is a really good cook.  When she couldn’t cook, we would.  But the type of food that exists now did not exist then.  Although we all had a penchant for food, nobody ever though about giving one of us advice to go into the food/restaurant industry. 

My generation didn’t grow up watching Food Network or scouring through food magazines or cook books.  We just learned the recipes handed down from our parents or grandparents.  I love that my kids relish these things and are interested in what is on the menu for dinner each night.  Also, what new and different places we can check out in the neighborhood.  The industry has changed so dramatically over the past 20 years, it is quite amazing.  Alice Waters was not only the impetuous behind the changes but she had a vision which she executed on in her restaurant, Chez Panisse, of what you could do with food.   

In the last few nights we had an Asian Shrimp with bok choy and fermented black beans entree, split a sushi/sashimi plate and a round of steamed veggies in a bamboo pot, baked crab cakes over sliced avocado and mango, small roasted beets of all colors with pieces of aged golf goat cheese and micro arugula and a light vinaigrette, summer succotash, ribs and coleslaw, tuna mixed with cilantro chutney, tomatoes and lettuce on brown bread and of course, frozen non-fat yogurt.  Quite an incredible mixture of food over the past few days.  Splitting everything helped out. 

Food like this wasn’t so available growing up.  I am not sure it was available at all.  It is truly incredible what was then vs. what is now.

Comments (Archived):

  1. JAH

    That reminds me of a scene at the Farmer’s Market in Union Sq on Saturday, a woman and her daughter (all of 5yrs old) were discussing the various vegetables, looking, smelling, and the girl was soaking it all in with a smile.

    I mentioned to the Mom how it was so different than going to ShopRite and seeing the same boring unattractive vegetables and the only fresh herbs were curly parsley and basil.

    Hopefully the new generation will support the local agriculture and we can all enjoy it’s bounty.

  2. ellen

    You mean you didn’t go out for Chinese on Sunday or Thursday nights? Literally, every Jewish person who wasn’t kosher went to China Sales in our burbs growing up. It was considered the maids night out so hence the custom. Now, if I don’t eat Chinese three times a week I feel lost.

    Last night I went to an auction up at Woodman’s in Essex, Ma.. The fried clams were out of this world. I asked about the secret ingredient that makes their fried food so good. The owner said LARD and I practically choked.
    He said he tried other cooking oils but this was the best for taste. They were really, really delicious, but I am having my arteries cleansed today.