Sunday, July 10, 2005

Happy to be home

Sometimes I think the main reason I travel is so that I'm happy to come back home. Sure, seeing new things and breaking the old routine is great, but coming home is a big pleasure too. After the CA stint I had about 24 hours before heading out the door again, this time to drive to Wisconsin with Fiona for my friend Sue's wedding. I left Brian and Ian at home and took the kid who is a reasonably good traveler.

Allow me to introduce you to Sue:

I like to think of her as Sue-with-the-10,000 Watt smile.
And that's her lucky man, Jim, who has the smile directed right at him.

It was a beautiful ceremony, all the things that a wedding should be--a big warm embrace of community. Sue's brother-in-law, Dan, married them and he gave a terrific commentary on marriage--funny, touching, and amazingly without cliches--that made me get on my cell phone as soon as the ceremony was over and leave a mushy message for Brian.

And on the literary front, Sue's friend Aaron gave a reading from one of my favorite children's books, The Velveteen Rabbit. It was the part about becoming real and how love makes you shabby around the edges with floppy worn-out bits. I can't wait to read this book to my critters when they will sit still long enough to listen to it. I bet I could get Ian to listen if I added a character with gears to the story...

Fiona was greatly amused by the ring bearer--Sue and Jim's huge dog, Brutus. Here you see Brutus having a lean against Jim while Aaron is doing his reading:
The culinary highlight was the dessert--Sue had told me that she was ordering her wedding cake from my absolute favorite Chicago bakery, the Swedish Bakery (located in the Andersonville neighborhood). It was a lovely carrot cake, moist and with lots of walnuts, very minimally decorated and elegant. But the surprise came in the form of the 5 groaning trays of other Swedish Bakery treats--butter cookies, petit fours, little marzipan cakes, chocolate truffles, etc.

The trays of sweet bounty
Here is what I snagged to take back to my seat:

Surrounding the carrot cake from the top are: a chocolate truffle, an almond/chocolate/marzipan cake, and a raspberry petit four.
There are times when I don't think I'm cut out to be a mom because I distinctly remember my mom never turning me down when I asked for some of her food. Such selfless impulses when it comes to food are not natural to me and I often hide what I'm eating so I don't have to share it with Fiona (Ian isn't a problem since he only eats about 10 foods). So I think it shows clear progress in the mom-suitability test that I'm constantly administering myself that I didn't get the slightest bit pissy with Fiona when she grabbed the chocolate truffle and stuffed the whole damn thing in her mouth. Instead, I grabbed the almond chocolate marzipan thingy and stuffed it in my mouth. We shared the carrot cake and the raspberry petit four.

We drove back this morning, left early and got to Evanston in time to eat breakfast at my favorite restaurant, The Lucky Platter. The Lucky Platter isn't a restaurant that I can sum up in a few words, mostly because if you look at their menu, nothing really jumps out at you--it just looks like a slightly quirky, American-style restaurant. But for some reason they make even the most mundane sounding dish taste great--I'm not a big fan of barbecued chicken sandwiches (I'm not talking about real barbecue, rather a grilled boneless skinless breast with some bbq sauce slopped on), but I'd eat the Lucky Platter one if there weren't so many other things that I really like that they make.

I spent many an evening at Lucky Platter recovering with my fellow sufferers from the heinousness of our days in Northwestern's Theater PhD program (note: I bailed out with an MA and a propensity to overuse the words hegemony, discourse, paradigm and methodology to the point of meaninglessness--if you want to read a sample of the intellectual wankage that we were all turning out left, right and center, take a peek at the excruciating two paragraphs here. Also note the incongruous and deceptive photo of a smiling woman placed above the text).

But I do have fond memories of my peers and our times at Lucky Platter: sitting under a big picture of Lobster Boy (a carnival side-show print) I vented my frustration and assuaged my ravaged intellect with Caribbean Pumpkin soup, the best sweet potato fries I've ever tasted (no sogginess at all) and a basic salad with terrific mustard soy vinaigrette. And it was cheap enough for my pathetic grad student income.

Today for brunch, Fiona had one huge whole wheat pancake and I ordered the vegetarian eggs benedict which looked like this:

It consisted of two slabs of grilled polenta, roasted vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and onions), two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of cilantro. And it was wonderful. Fiona loved it too and I found myself not doing quite so well on the self-lessness portion of the mom-suitability I ate a big chunk of her pancake, took a deep breath, and shared my eggs.


Anonymous said...

I zipped through Evanston myself on Friday, driving up Lake Shore Drove from downtown Chicago, to Sheridan and then out to Skokie to visit a friend. The lake was brilliant and sparkling that morning; I'm so glad I went that way instead of taking the highway.

On Saturday, we went to Walker Brothers for breakfast, in Wilmette just across the Evanston border. But either Evanston has really changed or else I never knew it that well as an undergrad, because I have no memory of the Lucky Platter, or of any of the other things I saw on my brief drive-through.

Kate said...

Lucky Platter is located in the southern part of Evanston, pretty far from campus if you were walking. I never saw many undergrads there--it seemed more townie in atmosphere. It is a pretty low key store front, no big sign or anything, so you could easily pass it by without a thought.

Amie said...

Oh man. I'm on a special diet for medical reasons right now, and I shouldn't come read your blog. I would KILL for that veggie benedict... WOWZA that looks good....

Anonymous said...

PS -- Oh, and Ian's up to ten foods now? He's got Iris beat by a multiple of two.

Susan W said...

I'm so glad you could come to the wedding Kate - I can't believe I didn't get to talk with you Saturday at all! I saw you from afar... It was fantastic to see you Friday night, I can't wait until I can steal Jim away for a weekend in Ann Arbor. He has been to Zingerman's once and I think he needs to see and experience more of the delights of Ann Arbor!

Thanks again for making the trip with beautiful Fiona - please give a big hug to Brian and Ian too :)

Julie said...

Oh ha ha, the food selfishness! Steve and I do the same thing. "No way! Eat your own!"

Your hegemony, discourse, paradigm, etc., gave me a hideous flashback. Did you also -- dare I say it? -- unpack the text???

Anonymous said...

I get really tense when Nicholaus wants to eat my food, especially when it is something i love like a fresh avacodo. Brian looks at me like I'm wacko and cruel.
I however was raised with a mother that said to us when we said we didn't like anything "more for me then!"
Hegemony, hegemony. Grad school. ugg.

Anonymous said...

woops, I meant to put my name.
sarah (not anynomous)

Kate said...

Sarah and Julie--
thank you! It is mighty reassuring to know that two awesome moms also feel protective of their food and don't feel that they have to share everything to their kid(s).

And yup, we unpacked that damn text in grad school till the suitcase was empty. And another word that I used all the time and still don't really have a good grasp on what it means is "dialectic".

it was an honor to come to your beautiful wedding! Believe me, I didn't expect to get to talk on Saturday. That's what Friday night's bonfire was all about. You looked beautiful and blissfully happy and that made the drive more than worth it!