Friday, May 18, 2007

redemption

When I was young, my mom was a hostess at Sizzler, and then Golden Corral, a Sizzler knock-off. We went there for "special occasions": report card time (my straight A's, my sister's straight C's), Mother's Day and Father's Day. My dad would always remind us not to fill up on the salad, save some room for the all-you-can-eat roast beef. I didn't develop a meat-tooth until much later in life, and I was obsessed with the salad bar. So many different kinds of things that we never had in our salads at home; I wondered if other people ate these kinds of things, and I just didn't know it: cubed ham, cubed pineapple, canned beets, 3-bean salads, and cottage cheese. After much experimentation, I discovered the perfect combination. A bed of spinach (the only green that can stand up to the weight of the other ingredients), cubes of boiled, pressed turkey, sliced, raw button mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, baco-bits, sunflower seeds and croutons. Lots and lots of thick ranch dressing. I would eat two of those while the rest of my family stuffed their faces with baked potatoes and carved meat until they were sick. My very last meal with both of my grandparents was a Sizzler meal; a little filipina lady served up iced tea refills, and she reminded me of my mom (not present at the meal). My dad left no tip, and shrugged his shoulders when reminded of it.
"They get paid", was his reply. I thought of someone shorting my mom in the same situation, so I slipped $10 on the table when everyone was leaving.

After a week of disappointing meals: a blah $125 dinner at Union, Domino's Pizza, and crappy tartines, I craved a Sizzler salad, a meal that wouldn't disappoint. My newer, adult version of the Sizzler still contained the requisite spinach (now organic), sliced button mushrooms and sunflower seeds. I also added a perfectly ripe avocado, barely hard-boiled egg, crispy (fake) bacon and (fake) turkey, and slices of fresh tomato. I even made Hidden Valley ranch dressing from the pouch, adding Best Foods Mayo and (soy) milk. Lots of sea salt and fresh black pepper. I was afraid I went a little overboard, but the tomato and avocado made up for the crappy hippy substitutions. I'm eating another one tonight.

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