Friday, December 27, 2013

Mars Ain't the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Flew to the Midwest for a short pre-holiday visit.  You know the kind you take when you're in retail or a job you can't take off during the actual holiday like normal people?  I would write about the food but really the food was not the big attraction on this trip. 
However, we did have a kick-ass burger at Five Star Burgers I believe it was called?  And my almost-mother-in-law had a nice beet salad that looked good and well dressed.  On the last night we also had the best ever burgers and peel and eat shrimp at Fast Eddies.  The funny back story was that I was dying to have pizza because we hadn't eaten bread in weeks. I love food.  I look forward to it, I dream about it, I consider it.  I plan for it.  Like this pizza.  That was to be my big extravagance on this trip.  Italian food in general is something I love but we never eat out.  P doesn't like pasta and now we don't eat white flour so there you go.  We parked at the Italian restaurant and got out of the SUV but suddenly like a stroke of bad luck we agreed that having Italian for lunch and then pizza for dinner would be too much, so we should do burgers. I was thinking more like Christmas and Thanksgiving on one day!  A wonderful treat! But I wasn't too disappointed.  My turkey burger was super tasty and came with an apple compote that served as a nice little side dish.  We shared onion rings that were light and well spiced.   
We set out for some downtime before dinner at Blueberry Hill, a super fun non-franchise bar restaurant that has games and rock memorabilia, lots of good history in St Louis, especially for the area called The Loop.  Chuck Berry still plays there and is longtime friends with the owner who is a major music and pop culture buff.  Well dinnertime came and it seemed like a whole lot of extra trouble to take this large group to get pizza especially when we were all cozy and comfy playing darts and having beers. The next decision was made to just go ahead and eat at the bar.  So we had all kinds of appetizers and bar food.  Somebody even ordered pancakes.  I went for the chili mac.  P had the turkey burger.
I grew up in a family where the main component of a holiday or any kind of a visit really revolved around food.  But my in-laws are not foodies.  That's why everyone is thin and in shape I suspect. And with healthy interests.  They enjoy eating at nice restaurants and I'm sure they can get down with a favorite dish but I've never really seen it firsthand.  Real foodies are slightly different in that they can't help but talk about the food incessantly beforehand and then after the fact, we dissect every ingredient before trying our hand at guessing the preparation. Of course then the reviews come.  A truthful one in your head and then one you can share with friends, depending on who cooked.  My sister R and our friend J is a foodie.  My mom and dad were foodies. It's almost like a form of Attention Food Disorder without the deficit.  Where when there is food in the room, there is no way to pay attention to anything else.  But it's a nice thing for me to experience, the eating as a side thought because then you can really focus more on the actual people and enjoy the kids and talk and listen.  It's a relatively new concept for me I'm ashamed to say. 
So I never did get my amazing St Louis pizza from Pi, where they serve award winning thin-crust pizza that I remember being completely awesome on a previous visit.  But man this town where P grew up is beyond spectacular.  That's the wrong word, it's majestic, yeah, majestic.  The Mississippi river is just flowing so strong and mighty.

There are all these equally cute little river towns with all this history and houses made out of limestone.  River rock.

And then the bluffs, right alongside the river.  I think the reason bluffs are so fascinating is that you don't expect it. Being from Northern Indiana you can drive around all night with your eyes closed and as long as you drive in squares, you know you'll be fine. Then there are places like this.  You stare up at these bluffs and the river and suddenly it all means something more.  Something inside of you is moved, like standing on the beach at the ocean.  I can imagine my ancestors standing on top of one of these bluffs in a little loincloth with an eagle's headdress or something. 

There is a quiet beauty to most of the town, like the feeling being alone in a church.
On the top of the bluffs you see out across the width of the river and beyond.

P's mom and dad shared beautiful stories with us about of how they met, where they went to school, and one's I'll never forget of their experiences with friends and as a young couple.

Most of the pictures were taken inside the car because it was colder than a mother fluster out there. With winds that came and slapped the goofy smile I had right off of me. 
The town has cobblestone streets and lots of hills.  P was born there and his parents were born there and their parents were born there.  That place is so dang cute you just want to eat it!
...even it's industrial area is like a painting.
Coming back into the city always comes with mixed feelings.  Thoughts of suicide, uncontrollable weeping, deep regret, withdrawal.  Haa haa.  You must make light of these things but oh, it's so true.
And then looking at our industrial areas.  They're not the least bit charming. But the ugly grit had always been something I've been attracted to so I guess something has changed.
I always believed that trips are like dreams, they provide you with answers and information that you have been struggling to find. 
But damned if my foggy ass brain can make any sense of it yet, two weeks later.   Brooklyn, like any bad day, always looks better in the morning.

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