Last night was supposed to be the Thursday Thing with Kevin. But an early morning email from Kevin announced that he was sick; too sick to hang out after work, he not only did not have the energy, he did not want me to catch what he had, too.
I missed him already, but wished him well.
I went through my day and kept busy, but when the end of my work day arrived, I was both glad to be done but in a strange reluctance to go home. Old Barfy, about whom I’ve written before, has taken to storing shopping carts of bottles and other recycled goods in the shared backyard, and a couple of nights ago I discovered that these shopping carts (yes, multiple) have multiplied to the point of being right next to my kitchen and bedroom windows, and my back door. I had left him a note about it this morning, and I anticipated having to talk to him about it after work.
What better reason to not go straight home, then? Yes, I’m generally non-confrontational. I will get around to it, but it might take me a while.
Instead, I transferred from my normal #70 bus to the #19, and went up Woodstock to the Delta Cafe (about which I’ve written before). Kevin and I were planning on going there, and I decided that I would still keep that appointment, even though Kevin had had to bow out to get well.
The thought of the home cookin’ perked me up from my already-good mood. Walking in the front door I could smell the BBQ sauce and fried foods. The hostess sat me down near the window, and gave me a menu.
What to have? I knew I’d start with corn bread. I love corn bread.
After rejecting the idea of ordering something I’ve already tried (I haven’t been going there long enough; I need to try more of the menu) I landed on pork chops. Grilled tender pork loin. With applesauce. For my two sides I tried the mac and cheese and cole slaw.
After I’d placed my order with the tattoo’ed black haired dark-mascara’ed waitress, I texted my order to Tracy, who is always down for some food porn.
And it hit me: every item I ordered was something my mom used to make, and serve, as a meal. Not just each individual thing by itself, but the meal as a whole. Corn bread, pork chop, mac and cheese, cole slaw, applesauce. It was literally just like mom used to make. But mom was long gone, buried up in Willamette National Cemetery.
And in spite of my generally good mood that day, and my anticipation of the delicious dinner still yet to be served… I missed my mom.
It was so good, with just a hint of sad remembrance. Not that my mom was from the south; she was born and raised in Oregon, though she and dad moved and lived up in Aberdeen, Washington, and outside of Seattle, and in Kalama, before finally coming back to Portland. She visited Mexico a couple of times, and went on road trips with dad back east to visit his family, and down to California a couple of times, and even got her wish to see Hawai’i before cancer took her. But she was an Oregonian in all senses of the word.
She only knew a few recipes, and when she cooked she made lots of use of pre-packaged ingredients, but that was the food I grew up on, and grew fat on, to be honest, so I remember it fondly.
The food at the Delta is higher-end, but the menu could just as well have been the menu when I was a kid. And it took me until last night, my third visit, to realize it.
It’s truly comfort food for me.