No one loves food as much as my father-in-law. Eating a meal with Steve is high entertainment. Each bite elicits groans of pleasure. A photo exhibit dedicated solely to the rapturous faces he makes when consuming cuisine could fill the Guggenheim. Steve has eating down to an art form. Each meal is as full of simple delight as a sunny afternoon with a garden hose.
He’s one of the slowest eaters I’ve ever seen…and that’s saying something. I’ve known some ridiculously slow eaters. But they were all slow as hell because they were too busy talking to be bothered with dining. Steve doesn’t say a word. That’s not true, sometimes he’ll mumble a garbled, “Damn, that’s good.” Otherwise he’s just lost in savoring each morsel.
What makes it all the more magical in my eyes, is it doesn’t matter what type of food it is – he loves them all. He’ll swoon as mightily for Pringles as he will for portobellos. All the world halts for the first bite of a Skyline Coney. At our anniversary dinner at the famous Montgomery Inn, our silverware clattered madly when Steve smacked the table as he filled his mouth with onion straws. At Culvers he bounced happily in his booth as he inhaled deeply before crushing his butter burger into his mouth.
If you start a topic he finds interesting or wants to contribute to, he’ll actually set down his fork and turn his full attention to you. Once the conversation concludes, the fork is back in his hand and his eyes dance as he debates where to resume his feast. He’s anything but rude. He just wants to enjoy each flavor to its fullest.
In his typically generous fashion, he wants to share every experience with you. Every trip to Hamilton, OH ends with an expedition to the grocery store to stock up on the “essentials” of Cincinnati dining.
We’ve more than made up for the weight of the concrete ‘shrooms we left all over the Midwest with the case of Skyline Chili we have crammed into the trunk. There are apparently two rules you must obey when preparing this delicacy. One – never, never, ever open the can before shaking thoroughly. Two – never, never, ever read the nutritional information on the side of the can. (I add my own third rule – never, never, ever consume a can when Elly will be in the apartment within a twenty-four hour period. Bah-lech.)
Also in the trunk are two tubes of thawing Goetta. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this stuff. It’s definitely a breakfast thing. I guess if ground sausage and oatmeal were songs, Goetta would be Danger Mouse’s mashup. Yeah, I thought it would be disgusting, too. Instead, it’s hot, greasy (and fiber-filled) heaven. This stuff gets lumped in with Deep Fried Oreos under the heading of “Foods I’m Glad I Only Get Once a Year or Less” for obvious reasons.
Before we even get to town, Steve has gone through all the grocery store circulars to find the best prices for our spending spree. He sometimes even freezes the Goetta in advance. As sweet as that is, and as tasty as the Goetta is when fried up in Hoboken, it just doesn’t taste the same without Steve’s grinning and moaning.
I can’t wait until his next trip to NYC. He’s going to go nuts for 5 Napkin Burger!