Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wednesday Remembered Meals Blogging

Chris Dufresne's wistful article in today's LA Times on David Smith's labor of love Retrosheet, the free website with almost 100,000 baseball boxscores, made me wish for a personal similar project Retromenu. Somehow, someone would have chronicled all the meals I've ever consumed, and there they'd be, catalogued and web-perusable. Talk about your oral histories. (But if you do talk about them, don't do it with your mouth full.)

For I'd really like to have the stats, and not just the myth, of one of the restaurants of my youth my family used to go, a place called La Boheme somewhere in north Jersey. I've tried to Google it and it doesn't seem to exist anymore, but of course this is at least 35 (38?!) years ago, a time when my parents were still together and I was probably 6 or so and in some silly suit with a bowtie or something. (My life definitely got better once I started dressing myself.)

While I wasn't in charge of my sartorial choices, my parents let me choose what to eat pretty early. La Boheme was Italian as could be--these days Tony Soprano would hang there--and the entree of choice would always be veal birds. I was too young to wonder why calves were trying to pass as birds, and nobody gave a crap in those days what possible torture their food went through to appear on a plate. OK, nobody in middle class New Jersey. I didn't come from hippie stock, let me assure you. But the "birds" were veal cutlets rolled and stuffed and one of the first things I associated delicious with. Plus lots of French fries. There's even a joke in my family that the probably very continental waiters at La Boheme--no doubt impressed by the very polite and proper boy (totally afraid if he acted wrong his parents would kill him) who asked for lots of fries--therefore decided to bring him a whole heaping dinner plate. Which the kid, at least in family legend, devoured, probably mostly because he didn't want to seem rude.

OK, so I slipped into third person there, as if my body was taken over by Rickey Henderson trying to steal the Larousse Gastronomique and not second base. But the truth is, who knows what the truth is. It's a completely different person writing about that boy, even if he grew into me. Still it strikes me how much food was at the heart of my concerns even so young, how I sensed a meal was cultural capital and personal exchange, how I knew there was so much to hunger for.

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Blogger Mike said...

A North Jersey Italian restaurant named "La Boheme"???

That's comedy right off the bat. I'm assuming this wasn't just some red sauce joint in Clifton or Garfield. Possibly a "Northern Italian" eatery before they started using the term?

One of those places that used the "primeri platti" and "secundi platti" on the menu?

4:28 AM  

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