I can remember when I was in college and medical school. Money was extremely tight and eating out was something special. Usually reserved for dates in fact and I always sweated the issue of going someplace well within economic reason.
Eating in cafeterias (especially when provided free as part of a rotation) I never viewed as really counting and I am not sure that particular mind bent hasn’t held through to this day. Which means buffets sort of fall into the same category. But there are somethings really key to eating meals away from home that you pay for.
The first is obviously that you have to have the money to do so. Since there was a lot of years in which I couldn’t afford it there is still a certain amount of joy to be in being able to sit down, look at a menu and pay someone else to prepare, cook and serve my meal. If you are on a tight budget obviously meals away from home are one of the first things to fall by the wayside.
Next comes the issue of value for your money. If you skipped my rants from the San Francisco Bay area I could hardly blame you. There are reasonably priced places to eat (I found several of them) and then places that may have a name but …. well, you can’t eat either the name or the menu. Or the atmosphere either. In fact, I don’t like atmosphere. I like to be able to see my food which leads into my last point. Taste is a personal issue; for me it also includes the ability to identify what I am eating. Not a great fan of mystery food/preparation as you might have guessed which eliminates a lot of novelle cuisine (small, cold mashed potato pyramids topped with chopped cilantro flavored veggies comes to mind).
Does this make me some kind of snob?
Maybe so. I will admit that when I can afford to eat out, I do appreciate the comfort of sitting and having a dinner/lunch that I didn’t have to prepare. Which takes me to the diner. Bringing back memories of the local dinner where I waitressed in high school I took my son and sister to lunch the other day. They serve breakfast all day, burgers & fries with the usual fixing. Since this is the US, you get water on your table without having to beg or pay. Ice tea comes with refills.
So there we are. I am eating french toast for lunch, they are having burgers. The tables are rimmed with metal, the booth seats are two toned plastic straight out of the 1950s. Looking through the juke box, us two older ladies recognized just about every song and group listed while the boy was drawing a complete blank.
He did luck out. Our trip the rest of the way down memory lane was short circuited by the fact that quarters passed through the slot and bounced off the table from underneath the box.
Heading back out the door I figured that I had my money’s worth. Decent food, great company and a more than reasonable price for the meal and service. None the less, my tastes have changed over the years and I have a yen for Thai tonight.
- Mesa AZ