My culture is marked by its cuisine. It is no doubt a favorite take-out choice of many busy Americans and people the world-over. Many of the menu selections of a Chinese restaurant are comfort food for the billions of us who grew up eating that style of food.
Mom’s devotion to her task of feeding the family marked our palates for life. Grandma double-downed on the family recipes. Daughters and daughters-in-law copied, observed, tasted and tested the ingredients for that familiar family smile and reservoir of compliments.
Now, when we celebrate we go out to a local restaurant. On a menu that seemingly needs a magnifying glass to read it, we pick out what we know. Something familiar leaps out from the pages and we wait with expectation to enjoy all the memories of family, youth and legacy.
Once in a while something new happens. It is not a completely new dish but there is a certain twist that captures our creative adventuresome spirits. That happened at a Portland restaurant with my best buddy.
We have joined him there only once before. It was so long ago no one could quite fix their finger on the occasion or date. Finally, we set that thought aside when it was time to give the waitress our order.
Bob asked about our favorites. We told him our short list. He filled in a few gaps.
“You guys like tofu, right?”
“Oh, yeah!” it was a chorus in unison. Comfort food was written all over that interchange.
“Then this will be a real treat,” he smiled broadly. “I have this dish a couple of times a week. You’re gonna love it.”
We have been friends for decades. Our paths in life have covered many adventures. Some have been sad but most were marked with great joy.
When the dish showed up we all took a modest helping. The expectation was reserved. After each one in our family tasted the dish we were stunned.
It was very familiar to all of us. Nevertheless, it was very new. Everyone was eager for a second helping only with a bigger portion this time.
The texture was buttery smooth. It nearly had the similarity with custard. Everyone complimented this dish.
Bob was right. We loved the dish. There was some leftovers that he graciously allowed us to take home.
Excellent leftovers make it to breakfast. After that they are just a memory. Something so familiar with a new twist gave us another great memory to tuck away with a fabulous friend.
photo credit: brucefong photography