Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hands Down ...

Tom, the guy who makes my hazelnut non-fat lattes better than anyone has move on to another Starbucks to manage it.

Sad. For me, I mean.

In theory, the taste of a latte should be standard. But they're not. Sometimes, they taste better. Sometimes, they taste less good.

When I was in London eleventymillion years ago with Tracy (but we are not old, dammit!), we popped into a McDonald's. It was at the height of the mad-cow scare and Tracy thought I might be a bit off my nut to want to eat beef in England in that shining moment of food safety in the U.K., but I suggested that McDonald's wouldn't be serving tainted meat (lest it change its restaurant signage to "billions of lawsuits defended") and that it might even import the all-beef patties from across the pond.

After all, the magic of McDonald's is that no matter where you go, it all tastes exactly the same, right? I wanted to find out for myself. So we went to the McDonald's across the street from our lovely hotel, the Renaissance Chancery Court. (Note to London-bound travelers: I can absolutely recommend the Renaissance. On my most-recent visit, though, I stayed at the Langham Hilton, which appears to now be, simply, The Langham, London. Perhaps a change in ownership has marked an improvement in the beds, but when I was there, the beds in that hotel were AWFUL. I've slept on sofabeds with better mattresses. You've been warned. I was complaining to Ciaran during that visit and he said, "All beds in London are like that." Au contraire, mon frere! The beds at the Renaissance were like sleeping on clouds.)

(Beth makes a u-turn back to her original topic): My cheeseburger, I'm happy to report, tasted exactly the same in London as the cheeseburgers do here. Tracy, however, refrained from throwing her pickle slices against the wall. Probably because we brought the food back to our hotel room. If we'd stayed in the McDonald's to dine, I can't promise that she would have been so refined. But probably. The last time I witnessed her flinging pickle slices at the wall (try it – they stick!), we were teenagers, I'm sure. Ah, those were the days.

But my point is – shut up, yes I have one – is that certain foods are supposed to taste certain ways. Some translate from country to country, and some do not. Some are specific to a person or place: Chicago-style pizza tastes best in Chicago and my mother makes the best sandwiches in the world. Not because of exotic ingredients, but because of her hands. I'm absolutely convinced that her hands make all of her food taste better.

She and her sister used to make some identical dishes, but I always liked mom's more. (I suspect most kids would say the same thing.)

And mom's lasagne, as I've blogged about before, is the best thing on the planet. My Serbian mother makes the world's best lasagne. Every year, she offers to make whatever I want for my birthday and every year, I want her lasagne.

Recently, mom bought an electric skillet, something she hasn't owned in years, but she used to use an electric skillet years ago to make her pot roast, and it just doesn't taste the same, made in a dutch oven. So now she can cook on her countertop again and with the weather turning wintry in a hurry, I've no doubt there will be pot roast on her menu very soon.

And, because she's the best mom ever, she'll invite me over for dinner. And she'll make sure she makes lots of carrots, which get extra caramelized and mushy under the roast and which were always my favorite part.


Blogger Mercurie said...

You were in London? And you went to a McDonald's? Out of all the cool places to be? I am so disappointed in you, Beth. )-: But then I am probably too much of an Anglophile...

6:31 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, just once. Sheesh. I just wanted to see if it tasted the same over there. Don't worry. It's not like we ate every meal there.

6:34 PM  

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