The New Yorker arrives in the mail this morning and, force of habit, I turn to Food & Drink to check out this week’s Table for Two. First thing, though, I flip through the magazine for the cartoons and sometimes even understand a few. As for the reviews, they’re tricky because a lot of the descriptions pass right over my head. Some of the dishes reviewed are what I suppose you call cutting edge and as, familiar as I’ve always thought I was with menu offerings, I’ve been stumped more than once and am finding myself a novice seated at a table for two.
Call it sour grapes on my part, but after years of reviewing restaurants in the Record-Journal under the tutelage of Barbara White who originated the column and reviewed alone for decades, I thought I pretty much knew my way around jalapeno poppers, the saltimboccos, marsalas and scaloppines.
This morning, on Page 25, MeMe’s Diner catches my eye. The Brooklyn eatery, according to the review, has introduced a brunchtime dish called, Milk and Cereal. My interest is two-fold. My six grandchildren call me, “Meme.” In that regard, when the entire family sits down at our table, during the Christmas holidays and the weeks of vacation at Cross Lake, it could be said they are breaking bread at “Meme’s Diner.” A stretch perhaps, but it has a nice ring, don’t you think?
The piece de resistance, however, is three lines in the review regarding complimentary bowls of “mixed junk food cereals to snack on while you decide what else to eat.”
Cereal in our house back when my kids were growing up was a bone of contention. The contents of my grocery bags were questionable also, primarily from Christopher. If you were to pin him down and ask if his mother grocery shops he would say, “Yeah, I guess.” We did not agree on my selections. While I tossed in orange juice and seedless grapes, bran muffins and unsweetened cereals he preferred the cart loaded with soda, fruit pies, Ho Ho’s and Sugar Corn Pops. He argued that kids in school said they had stuff like that in their houses.
“Don’t believe them,” I’d tell him. “They’re making that up so you will feel bad.”
For years Chris grudgingly accepted the fact that his formative years would lack the sugary things in life. When he turned 16 he got a job in a grocery store as a cashier.
“You know, those kids in school weren’t making that stuff up like you told me they were,” he confronted me, armed with the information gleaned from dozens of items that slid along his register belt. He showed me a $150 register receipt before taping it to his bedroom wall indicating seven boxes of cereal.
“Good cereal too,” he pointed out, “not that dull stuff you buy. And did you know that today they make frozen pizzas?”
Last week in the “Ask the doctors” column in the Record-Journal I was drawn to the headline “Grandparents influence health.” Researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland were interested in learning what role, if any, grandparents may have on the risk factors for non-communicable diseases in children. Do grandparents take a more indulgent approach to their grandchildren’s diets? Treats to visiting grandchildren, etc. As it is with all studies, variables come into play, but as a grandparent my visiting grandchildren sit down to breakfast at a table for six where there are no bowls of junk food cereal. At my “Meme’s Diner,” cereal boxes list bran, oats or whole grains as primary ingredients.
Their parents however, will caution them to check for wheat germ I might have sprinkled on their cinnamon toast. A holdover from childhood they can’t seem to shake.