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June 24, 2015

Food tours

My workout class ended this morning and while we were catching our breath, the instructor asked my friend, Jan, if she had done her food tour yet.  Ah, food.  Nothing like striking up a salivating-inducing conversation about how to reload on calories shortly after exerting yourself and burning off a trillion fat cells.  Jan shared that her tour of restaurants in the city hadn't taken place yet.  This purchased gift for her husband for Father's Day offered a variety of stops at a collection of restaurants thru a specific Chicago neighborhood.  The tour she selected would feature eateries in her husband's favorite area:  China Town.

Coach and I don't get out much, and we get out with the kids even less, so I admit this was the first time I had heard of a food tour.  I suppose the closest I get to a food tour is left-over night at our house in 'Irish Town'.  During this weekly tradition I can be found rummaging thru the fridge fishing for dinner options that are fresh enough to pass for good eats.  This is the closest we come to sampling a variety of offerings . . . albeit questionable, bordering on moldy, minuscule portions - but there is typically a variety.  This exciting adventure just occurred a few nights ago.

I used to look forward to left-over night.  An evening of warming up food and not slaving away in the kitchen.  Left over nights of late are anything but enjoyable, save the fact that I am thrilled to open up a bit of space in my cramped fridge.  If I didn't know any better, I would swear that my fridge shrinks a bit every six months.  I recently scolded Coach for attempting to save less than a dozen green beans in a small container.  Knowing I would find those buried in the back of the fridge with a nice layer of fuzz growing on them in about 6 weeks, I instructed him to force them down or toss them out.  Playing fit-the-food-(or worse yet force-the-food) in-the-fridge until the puzzle works well enough for the door to close is, after all, exhausting.  Although I admit to being an expert fridge organizer, in my rush to shove my new grocery purchases in and race out the door I often risk creating so many layers that edible food gets shuffled to the great fridge-abyss.  Our second fridge in the basement serves as a double edge sword.  It comes in handy and allows me to avoid multiple trips to the grocery store a week, but food often gets overlooked and uneaten down there until long after its expiration date.  With a food budget impossible to adhere to, I can't afford to toss food out.

Other than cluttering our cold storage space, the left-overs serve very little purpose.  Literally.  No loaves and fishes miracles happening here.  The portions I distract from foggy tupperware containers are typically insufficient to feed more than one or two hungry kids let alone sustain the entire crowd.  Gone are the days when Monday's casserole would feed all of us again on Thursday. Additionally, the length of time it takes to locate the available food items, allocate who gets what (inevitably there is one popular item and only half a serving size left), and heat them up is hardly worth the effort.  It often makes more sense to prepare a meal that will not only feed the masses, but will be warm when needed.  Choices only complicate an already chaotic time of day.  For example, if there is only so much pizza casserole remaining, and a pizza-casserole-lover meanders in the kitchen a minute after the last plate has been promised to another sibling, lock up all the sharp utensils because there is going to be war.

After my workout, I allowed the younger three kids to invite over a family with three siblings of the same gender, same age.  One phone call.  Three playdates.  Heaven.  Add that these kids are well mannered, well behaved, and on the same page as my younger set, the invite is a no-brainer.  Reggie had been given a free burger certificate at the hamburger joint 'Meatheads' as part of his baseball team participation.  I agreed to take the six of them to Meatheads for lunch.  The friends brought their coupons as well and off we went. Once all the kids had ordered, I asked about the salads.  Were they gluten free?  I selected a salad, added chicken to it, and then inquired about the dressings.  Four employees discussed the gluten status of the dressings.  They investigated.  Hard to believe my order could take longer than 6 kids all together. Embarrassing.  In the end they weren't convinced that any of their dressings were gluten free.  They suggested I order a burger in a lettuce wrap makeshift bun.  I had lost my appetite.

I wonder if their are food tours for gluten intolerant individuals who would enjoy a break from dinner preparations, hungry teenagers, and insufficient leftovers?  If so, sign me up.



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