Those of you on my email list (sign-up if you aren't on it!:) know that I've been focused on my weight this year, trying to lose some. But part of food's pull is that it is, at least for some of us, more than the simple act of physiological nourishment. There's nostalgia and comfort and memories associated with food. For instance, when I think of Friendly's Ice Cream (see below), I'm not just thinking of ice cream. I'm thinking of many childhood memories with my parents, grandparents, my brother, and my friends trekking to their "walk-up window" and ordering a frosty treat on a scorching summer evening. Those memories can be powerful and even years later make the relationship with food a tough one to reconcile. Music is the only thing that, to me, has a similar ability to pull one back into a different time and place. Fortunately, music is calorie free! To supplement what I've written about in the past, here are a few more memory lane food establishments (and one drug store)....Does anyone remember these places? What else should be added to the list?
ARTHUR'S TREACHERS FISH & CHIPS: Back when my city actually had an eclectic mix of eateries we had this well-known fish n chips joint on the city's main fast food drag. It's long since been shuttered, but their batter-fried fish and crisp fries and tangy tartar sauce were a mainstay. AH, does this restaurant still exist?
KENNY ROGERS ROASTERS: I know, I know...you wouldn't think the chicken would have been very good, but it WAS. The closest one to our town was about 20 - 25 minutes away and I'd occasionally make the drive just to pick up chicken for our family. It was THAT good.
SISTER'S CHICKEN AND BISCUITS: Mmmm who cares about the chicken, it is the memory of those flaky, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits that will stay with me forver....
PHAR-MOR: Does anyone remember this store? It was a brightly lit, huge 500-pound gorilla of a pharmacy and one of its chain stores came to Middletown, Ohio when I was in high school.
BRESLER'S ICE CREAM: The ice cream was average, if I remember correctly, but the cool factor was high. This ice cream store was in the local mall so in high school you went there to be seen and get a scoop of butter pecan.
DUFF'S FAMOUS SMORGASBORD: Duff's Smorgasbord (what a fun word) chain pioneered the buffet concept before it really became big. I think one of these restaurants hung on in a local struggling strip mall well into the 1990s. Does anyone remember Duff's?
FRIENDLY'S ICE CREAM: This chain is still around and there were some Friendly's in Dayton, Ohio up until last year so if I really wanted a lick and scoop of ice cream nostalgia it was comforting to know it was there. But, alas, no more....
BILL KNAPP'S: Man, this place probably does it for me more as far as food memories go more than any other place. I went here so many times with my grandparents as a kid. The chain held on until the early 2000s, long enough for Rachel and I to go to one once on a date ( I think we were the youngest people there by 40 years)....but oh how I wish Aster would be able to have the same memories here that I did: the stack of comic books by the door (my brother would always head for those), the au gratin potatoes, the kids menu that would be "The Elephant", the "Giraffe", or "The Zebra" (I think) and if you don't know what I am talking about, don't worry about it, fellow Bill Knappers know exactly what I am talking about. Ahhhh I miss this place.....
Sometimes I think the world has changed so much that there aren't similar places today that will exert the same pull someday, but there are...Maybe someday Aster will wistfully say "Gee, I remember a place called Cracker Barrel that I'd go to with my parents....there was a cool gift shop, amazing sweet tea, breakfast for supper....The chain held on until shortly after I graduated from high school and then it closed...." Like life, restaurants are cyclical.