Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ten Minutes: The One Senior I'd Love to See on Tuesday

As I prowled the dining room last night looking for tables to bus and patrons to schmooze, I accepted the lavish compliments of the old folks.  Tuesday is Senior Night, and they love my meat loaf.  They say it’s the best they’ve ever had at a restaurant.  Who knew a humble concoction of ground meat and secret ingredients could be such a hit? 


I smiled to myself.   Who knew, indeed?  In spite of all my thirty-five years of restaurant experience, my food tends more toward the homemade than the institutional.  The forms and flavors run to rustic and comfortable, rather than edgy and haute cuisine.  As I swiped a damp towel across a table peppered with the particulate remains of a satisfied patron’s feast, I suddenly thought about my Dad.  I thought how strange it was that, though I hadn’t learned to cook, as my sisters did, as an apprentice at Dad’s elbow in our family kitchen, the food upon which my cafĂ© is building its reputation is very much from the tradition of that kitchen.  Simple, rib-sticking fare, jazzed up just enough to make it interesting. 


What I wouldn’t give to have Dad sitting at one of my tables, tucking a napkin into his shirt front and digging into my meat loaf or homemade lasagna.  He’d be 89 this year…but I’m convinced that if he were still with us, that’s exactly what he’d be doing on some Tuesday night.


I wondered, my eyes welling with stupid, out-of-the-blue tears, what he would think of my little place.  I think he would have gotten a kick out of it.  I think he would be proud.  He had this way of secretly beaming when one of us did well.  He was not a man given to effusive praise or outpouring of emotion.  But if you caught him when he didn’t know you were looking, you would see the pride and the praise in his eyes.  You could read it in the set of his tiny, satisfied smile. 


It was only after he died, I think, that I realized I lived for that smile.



  1. I love reading your journal.  You have inspired me, among other things, to reconnect with my family.  
    Could you please give us (I'm sure I'm not the only one) an update on William
    of Orange?
    Thank You,

  2. Lisa, those ten minutes were the best spent ... both remembering and sharing.  

  3. The food sounds delicious.   Your dad, terrific.   I need to make my kids more aware of my pride in them.

  4. He's there. Believe me, he's there.