Fresh off the plane from Austin, tonight this Yankee had a big ol’ hankering for a little piece of Southern comfort. For the last three nights, I’ve eaten what the likes of Paula Dean fans cook regularly – chicken fried steak, collard greens and Mexican that rivals what’s actually being served south of our border. Somehow waltzing down Washington toward 12th, I couldn’t bring myself to sauté a Purdue chicken breast. Tom Petty said it best when he acted as my su chef - you don’t know how it feels to want to eat that which you can’t replicate. My remedy for tonight’s “homesickness” consisted of butter, bread, and Campbell’s.
My best friend who less than a year ago moved to Rhode Island raved about the grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup her mom prepared for her when we were in high school. Admittedly, whenever Kate talked about these favorite lunches, the pairing seemed strange. Living in a house where olive oil was a staple, the heartwarming coziness of the cheesy bread was lost on my father’s birth certificate, and Nonna’s handmade gnocchi. Tonight though, armed with a box of cheez-it(s), I dipped, slurped, and savored.
My playlist continued churning out feel good melodies, except that when the boss intoned about the streets of Philadelphia, I pictured “the legendary” Pappasito’s Cantina where only twenty-four hours ago, I satisfied my bottomless pit status with a platter of pork and cheese enchiladas. Suddenly my nostalgia for the city of brotherly love and what I thought had been my unparalleled relationship with Cuban food was compromised. Its nothing personal Bruce, you just don’t know how it feels to get introduced to a cuisine like Tex Mex only to return to chains like Qdoba on your quainter city’s corner.
To go from eating chicken fried steak and homemade grits (even if the grits were a coronary waiting to happen), to entertaining the idea of settling for a fresh little tomato and mozzarella Panini felt absurd as I hauled my carry on up to my third floor digs. Tonight I spooned the Campbell’s soup into my hand painted soup bowls and toasted to Texas.