Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Family Celebration To Forget

It being the anniversary of the birth of the Mrs Steviemom, organised merriment in the form of casual dining was called for and Mrs Stevie informed me that an affirmation of the Mrs Steviemom's importance to our small but antagonistic band was required. Nothing would suffice but a visit to an Italian Restaurant.

I hate Italian food.

Pasta, to me, has an extremely unpleasant texture and can only be tolerated once or twice a year by entering a zen-like trance before and during the meal and limiting the pasta form to noodles. Sheet-pasta based dishes will have me heaving in no time flat. For me, consuming lasagna is like eating a wet book bound in human skin.

The sauces that generally accompany pasta are far too tomatoey for my palate, and end up raising small ulcers on the inside of my mouth if I eat more than a small amount due to some as-yet unspecified ingredient. I suspect the chefs use some sort of battery acid in the preparation of them.

Finally, to me, parmesan cheese smells like it has been eaten once before. The mere suggestion of it on the air causes me to begin the pre-antiperistalsic spasms that the smell suggests have already happened recently in the cheese dispenser. I'm told it is delicious. Since I can no more eat something with a vile smell than I could eat what the parmesan cheese smells like, I will never know. This is why I can no longer eat a cheeseburger at IHOP (parmesan cheese now baked into the buns) and why I couldn't eat the otherwise tempting chicken pot pie yesterday (which was infused with a "delicious" parmesan cheese based sauce).

The Mrs Steviemom, possibly in consideration of these factors, possibly not, elected to alter the venue to ShoobyDoos Day, a casual dining restaurant nearby which she and the Mrs Steviedad eat at all the time. The kindness of this gesture must be offset by the fact that the last two times we have dined there it has been a major fiasco. One time they mixed up the meals and took so long to remedy the situation that they ran out of the entrees we had actually ordered (about an hour and a half before). One time they poisoned me and the Stevieling (we suspect the ketchup) so bad we kept our meals down for a grand total of forty minutes before we were turned inside out.

We arrived in good time to find the restaurant almost empty, and lodged the cake Mrs Stevie had brought with the staff, who took it to the kitchen. A waitress took our drink orders, and that was the last we saw of her.

A new waitress finally brought the drinks about fifteen minutes later, and took our dinner order. Mrs Stevie and the Mrs Steviemom ordered steaks, the Mrs Steviedad and BIL the Elder ordered steakburgers, The Stevieling ordered mozzarella sticks and I chanced a rack of spare ribs. There followed a long wait, during which the only time we saw a waitress was when I got a replacement for my ginger ale (which I did three times).

Finally, the steaks arrived, but were cooked to the wrong specification and hed the wrong side dishes, so were sent back. The burgers then arrived, with the Stevieling's fried cheese and last of all, my spare ribs. We waited for a bit, but it was obvious that the steaks were not going to re-appear in short order so we began to eat.

Now I have had spare ribs in any number of restaurants and made to any number of different recipes, but this was a new one on me. The ribs themselves appeared to have been taken from an animal that had starved away most of its meat. The rack had then been slow cooked over a blowlamp for about three days until what little meat remained on the ribs was charred and turned to jerky. I contemplated sending them back to the kitchen, but the steaks had not arrived yet, we had been in the place over an hour since ordering and I had no confidence I would actually see an entree before closing time, so I decided to see if I could find any edible meat on any of the ribs. I found about a thumb's worth of meat on the entire rack. By now I was up for complaining, but there wasn't anyone to complain to. Although the staff clearly outnumbered the customers that night, they were nowhere in evidence.

The steaks finally arrived and were consumed, and I decided to live with the pork-jerky since I wasn't paying for it. I wasn't really that hungry anyway after drinking my own weight in ginger ale.

Our plates were cleared away and we began the wait for the (us supplied) cake to appear. We waited. We waited some more. The waitress reappeared and took orders for coffee. We waited. The coffee came, and once it had been diluted by about 40% with skim milk, was not completely undrinkable while retaining a hint of it's original nastiness. We waited some more. Just when we thought we couldn't wait any longer, we waited longer. The place began to empty out (i.e. the three other customers left).

Finally, the cake arrived. Would that it had had an accompaniment of plates, forks and a knife to cut it. These things were secured and I was finally able to have a slice of something edible (the secret to that being that it was the only thing not produced on the premises). The bill, of course, arrived in very good time.

On the way home, Mrs Stevie expressed contentment and asked how everything had gone for everyone else. I looked at the clock. From where I was sitting we had spent close to three hours sitting around, only to be served inedibly burned food.

"I think I'm done with that place" I said. "They've made thee attempts to kill me: Once by boredom, once by improperly kept food and once by a fiendish combination of each. Next time I'm not coming no matter what you threaten to do to me. Now, get us home so we are in easy reach of a bathroom."

Mrs Stevie "hmph"ed and opined that I wouldn't know a good time if I saw one. She's right.

It's been so long since I was in one I've quite forgotten what they look like.

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