Saturday, September 16, 2006

Imprinting Your Future


It took me a long time to get over how boring the food is here on the coast. I remember the first time I heard someone singing the praises over Futano’s Pizza, and I thought to myself, “They’ve got to be fucking kidding!” A thin pre-baked crust with crap thrown on it and heated quickly is called pizza here? Where I came from you had a guy with hairy arms throwing dough up toward the ceiling, stretching it into the perfect shape and size. No rolling pins were used. The toppings were anointed generously with olive oil. When it was time to pull it from the oven the sight, the texture and the glistening of the moist toppings, and the salty smell of the melted imported cheese wrapped like octopus arms around every sense that a human possesses.

It was only recently that I realized that the food you grow up with is always the best. It has little to do with the food itself, but rather it’s more of a thing of imprinting.

There was a bakery in the town where I grew up. This bakery produced the first cup cake that I ever ate. It was an unassuming cupcake. The cake domed not harshly above the rim of the cup. The icing was placed with a spatula, rather than with a pastry bag. The icing extended to the edge of the cup, but never (rarely) over the paper. They didn’t have sprinkles (jimmies for you Mid-West folks) on them. They didn’t have flags or any plastic junk stuck in them. They were pure and simple cupcakes.

They were either yellow cake with chocolate frosting or devils food cake with white frosting. Nothing special, really. However, now all cup cakes pale in comparison.

My friend Jody who now lives in Texas was imprinted with the same cup cakes as I. We would always buy a box of six in the event one or the other of us would be driving by and see the others car parked out front. If not, we had some cup cakes for after. We timed our visits remarkably well and often snacked together either in her little red car or in my little Subaru Brat.

When ever Jody or I have moved to a new location, we never ask about the climate, or the housing, or people who live in the area. We ask, “Any good cup cakes there?” The answer is always “No, I wish…” To this day we are still searching. If one of us ever finds one that is close, and I mean really, really close, the other would be on the next flight out.

Unfortunately sometimes you can’t return home. That bakery of my youth is long gone. The baker and his family died long ago, and the bakery is now a meaningless shop that sells crap that no one really needs and gets thrown away shortly after purchasing. The cup cake and icing recipe is probably landfill under an East Coast Mega Bullshit chain store that cranks out tallow based baked goods with that icing that doesn’t even dissolve in hot water. I’d sacrifice a body part to get that recipe; just to have a touch stone to my childhood of so long ago when things tasted great. I’d make that sacrifice as well just to see Jody smile again as we untie the red and white stripped string around the cupcake box that holds six.

7 Comments:

Blogger Syd said...

That was so good, I read it twice. I may not be done yet.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me! We have some very good restaurant's now!
#1 Columbian Cafe
#2 Urban Cafe
#3 Astoria Coffeehouse
#4 Andes Cusine
#5 Uniontown Cafe

#6 All of the Mexican restaurant
and so on and so on. All of the Seafood restaurants.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Thank you for letting me substitute for Kitty Carlile:
Would your profession be Police Officer?
:-;

10:29 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Gearhead, no. Had I been the article would have featured dounuts.

Anonmyous, very true, but none of these places were here when I first arrived in 1989. And there are a few on your list that I would disagree with.
#1The Columbia is great but WAY too overpriced for anything other than breakfast.
#2Urban, Is my favorite.
#3 Astoria Coffeehouse, I haven't tried
#4 Andes Cusine I haven tried
#5 Uniontown Cafe went on a cheap spree and it shows in food, presentation and selection.
#6 All of the Mexican restaurant, are OK unless you've had real Mexican. They all have the same menu and they mask the lack of freshness with an abundance of salt.
#7 All of the Seafood restaurants.They are OK too, but the only ones that shine are The Moby Dick, The Shelborne Inn. The rest I wouldn't write home about. Uriah knows what to do with a nice piece of fish as well, (He's a Cajun so it's in his blood) but then there is the price as mentioned above.

Syd, Thanks...

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Gotta admit, you naile der on the hed dere! I've been on what seems like an eternal quest for the perfect pizza comparable to the search for the Holy Grail. There used to be Mom and Pops pizza joints that could churn out the best tasting pizzas that had nothing to do with what you were smoking at that particular time. They have all been replaced by franchises that churn out a product that doesn't matter what you are currently smokin', they still taste like crap. When is it that everyone will figure out that putting all the cheapest ingredients on a pie and sopping it up with a sweet sauce and charging top dollar is a just plain rip off. I think the cardboard box they come in tastes better. Mediocrity has become the order of the day and what is really sad, the consumer accepts it and is even convinced he likes it.
Now as to Cajuns (short for Acadians)in the U S - you can thank the British for that and should expect an invoice anytime now from us Canucks for them. Check out Evangeline by Longfellow. Now the wiliest of the Acadians(ahem) got away from the British and as for seafood, well the cold Atlantic is still the best lobster around and someday when I'm feeling real real philantropic, and my Karma picks up, I'll ship you some at prime time on ice. Of course assuming that these would not be considered a security threat as it could cause a stampede across the world's longest undefended border.Too bad I didn't get a chance to talk to Madame Rice when she was up to Halifax last week - she might have taken some down for you!

1:57 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Aah, Mon ami...It will be mandatory upon your arival here, and some real maple syrup. Don't forget the back bacon, Molson and some Export A, and I'll slip back into the habits I had when I thought I was imortal. Madame Rice wouldn't step foot in Oregon. She'd be launched out on a catapult.

Hey, you know, if I were to rewrite yesterday's article I'd make Canada the 4th state with with big loyalty ; ) Oui?

2:08 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Oops, I moved here in 1987 not 1989...like it matters.

9:22 AM  

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