Monday, September 04, 2006

food memories

JB just posted about a new sundae-building contest at Friendly's, expressing his admiration for the restaurant chain's effort at co-creation, while lamenting some of the bumps in the path to implementation.

It's no secret around here that JB inspires me. Usually, the inspiration is to push myself harder or to remember to laugh, but today it was to build a sundae ("After the School Play") that was more about nostalgia than it was about combining flavors that complement each other.

(That slurping noise you hear is NOT me kissing JB's tuchus, evil detractors. It's the sound of me enjoying -- at least in my mind -- a sugar cone with black raspberry ice cream and chocolate sprinkles, thank you very much.)

I, like JB, grew up in the Northeast -- specifically Connecticut -- and Friendly's was a constant and, yes, friendly, presence. Mom worked there (Cheshire) when I was in nursery school/kindergarten and she was the only waitress I would dare to order from because I was so horribly shy. If there was someone else waiting on us, I would pretend that I needed to pee just as they were coming to the table, pulling on Dad's sleeve as I sidled out of the booth to ask him to order for me.

Friendly's was where parents brought us after the dance recital (still in blue eye shadow and sequins), the school play or spelling bee (Waterbury and Middletown). Friendly's was where we first pretended to be grown ups out for dinner (Middletown). Friendly's was where we lingered all night with the boys (Guilford), ordering just enough french fries and water to justify staying for four hours.

Crinkle cut french fries with a line of ketchup squeezed down the side of each one. Grilled cheese. Clam chowder with Saltine crackers. Lime sherbet coolers -- watermelon when they had it in stock. The aforementioned black raspberry with chocolate sprinkles. The Jubilee Roll at holiday time.

Food memories are more about the memory than they are about the food. I'm guessing that none of those things would taste all that great today (I won't even dare try -- sorry, JB can't inspire me THAT much), but the nostalgia for being young, easily pleased and among friends is enough to fill me up.

Thanks for the inspiration.

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