We lunched at Chuy’s today, where I’ve eaten since about 1983. They’re still using their crappy limited quarantine menu, while every single other restaurant around here has been full menu for months. Still, though, I can’t quit them, as their creamy jalapeno dip runs in my veins. And just as in every trip, someone with far deeper pockets than mine has ordered the fajitas. My head cocks quickly as I smell the meat and hear the sizzle from a black skillet passing our table. The fajitas seem to wink at me, as if to suggest today is my day to give in. I sigh longingly. No, fajitas, not today, my friend. But one day. One day, we will be together.
These Boston women cooked up jars/vessels/urns of their city’s famous baked beans, often eaten at Sunday breakfast in days of yore, per the British tradition. What about ye? Hast thou partaken of an English breakfast? Who wouldn’t want to start the Sabbath off with a healthy start of fried eggs, bacon, bangers, half a tomato (why?), a burnt hockey puck, and buttered toast?
Did the Irish later come in and change our whole notion of breakfast by trading beans for potatoes? The only beans consumed in my house for breakfast are refried and tucked inside a breakfast taco.
Italian teens peddle their wares for coins on the Boston streets near Quincy Market and Feneuil Hall, which opened in 1743. 1743? You Northeasterners will be much more familiar with structures that old, but for a Texan, 1743 meant my state was still Mexico. How interesting it would be to imagine your great-great-great grandparents walking the same Boston streets centuries before you, keeping the city fed during the Depression, and feeling pride in work.
Below, we see plump green cucumbers being sold by pushcart vendor Signor Passanisil, as the Customhouse Tower rises in the background.
This gal throws much attitude, but I honestly can’t tell if she’s 13 or 23. Huge Jackie O sunglasses, permed bob, lip gloss, tight waist. Love it! While her shirt cuffs are reminiscent of my own tees in 1985, this was actually September of 1975, exactly 45 years ago. That was the year emissions testing on the exhaust analyzer went into effect, and she was watching her go through testing at an inspection station in Cincinnati, Ohio.
What I don’t get is the possessive S after banana. Is the world going bananas? Sure, that’s solid. But banana’s? Certainly it doesn’t own her. She looks like the boss of herself.
It’s guaranteed not to sour, so I say we try this old can out and test the claim for ourselves.
In any event, I bet I’d prefer 1954’s version of Qwip to today’s:
Truth be told, I’m all figged out, my friends. If I skip a day of figpicking, the birds and bees will devour them.
This is what I see when I get up under the tree.
And this is what I see when I come out from under the tree, looking up through the cottonweed tree.
Some of the leaves appear to have been chomped on by caterpillars. But no matter.
Cottonwood leaves still make the BEST swishing sound when the wind blows through them.
As some of you know, our fig tree (a cutting from my husband’s grandfather’s tree many moons ago) flaunts her fecundity each June, and then promptly closes shop within the month. This year, she held on to her small green figs until the very end of June, when they plumped up all purple and big as softballs, in some cases.
As soon as you twist one off a branch, a sticky milk spurts out, and it’s quite itchy. Even three rounds of vigorous Soft Soap won’t make it go entirely away. Nature’s weapon.
This was Thursday morning’s haul.
I’m always surprised by how few people have ever eaten a ripe fig, but it makes sense, since you never see them in the stores. They die after 48 hours, so you have to eat them quickly. As neither my son nor my spouse are fans, I have had to force myself to eat 3-5 figs daily, just to fulfill the chintzy gal inside me, who cannot pass up free food. Plus, it’s healthy!
Sometimes I have to add them to a salad, so I don’t get so bored.
I gave a bushel to a Facebook friend, who sees me post them daily, and tried to offer some to the new Asian family across the street, but he thought I was asking him to come trim my tree. Eventually, I spoke with the wife, who was happy to try some, and I packed a dozen in a to-go box for them. Another 10 were given next door to our Indian neighbors, who thought at first we were offering “pigs” last year. They said they didn’t eat meat and politely declined. But once we got past the consonant confusion, they were down with a pile of figs.
Lastly, the neighbors behind us actually can see the purple orbs as they hover on branches above our fence. We told them to snag whatever they like, since the abundance is overwhelming, and I packed up another box for them and passed it over. It will be 107 today, and zero chance of rain, as usual, so I don’t know how long this tree will keep pumping them out. But until then, I’ll keep reaching for the figs (except the top branches; those are for the birds and squirrels).
Have you eaten Joan of Arc brands in your neck of the woods? It must be a geographical item, as I’ve never seen such a thing.
I don’t envy grocers nowadays, trying to keep their stores clean, their employees healthy, and their shelves stocked. But the lean WWII years also challenged grocers with government rationing lists. Here, this grocer attempts to label his stock with an accurate price in points. Can you imagine?
Housewives had to be thrifty, sometimes to the point of excess.
It was important to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing, as it is today.
It’s a darn good thing I know how to cook, since I’ve had to cook 98% of our meals over these past nine weeks. My first thoughts in the morning are, “Take Bayer aspirin, give dog his pill, make coffee, thaw meat.” Meal prep is, as Willie Nelson sang, always on my mind. Manana in Texas means bars, yes, BARS, will open. Restaurants have already been plugging away at 25%, at least those that have not yet folded. A handful of iconic Austin restaurants operating for over 30 years each, have died a COVID death. Tomorrow, restaurants can allow 50% occupancy. And no, they will not shove blow-up sex dolls in booths to establish social distancing like a certain establishment in South Carolina did…
Austin is known for keeping it weird, but that’s hella weird. Crazy weird. And yet, when I think of the flaky dim bulb brains of many hostesses I’ve known, it’s probably helpful, so they wouldn’t seat those tables. Nice touch with the bowls and forks.
Oft is the time I’ve enjoyed a Whitman’s Sampler; Walgreen’s always has them in supply. But what of this metal box of Loveliness? Isn’t that a fruit of the spirit? No, I forget myself. Loveliness is full of surprise centers. Forrest Gump’s mother was well-acquainted with these. I received neither last Sunday. But at least I’m not stuck on a frontier with my frock stuck in a cactus.