The Suitcase Lady


September 15, 2008, 7:49 pm

My father once bought a half gallon carton of Sealtest New York Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream every week for thirty-two weeks. When my father discovered something good, he saw no reason to change course. It took me about thirty-two years to be able to put a spoonful of that flavor in my mouth again.

We always ate out on Saturday night, and my dad’s unbroken record in this department outlasted the cherry vanilla siege. My mother would ask, “Where would you like to go to eat?” Breaking into a huge smile, my dad would say, “How about a nice chop suey dinner?” Year after year we were faithful weekly patrons at La Choy Chinese Restaurant on North Avenue in Milwaukee. By the time I reached high school, I knew I would never willingly enter another Chinese restaurant for the rest of my life. The words “egg foo yung” still strike terror into my heart.
But genes are tricky things. After I bought my twentieth consecutive box of Trader Joe’s Ginger Granola, my husband delicately suggested that there might be other flavors available. He chides me when I am unabashedly my father’s daughter. I laugh at myself, too.
I know I’m being completely unadventurous when I discover a favorite dish at a restaurant and order that dish every time. But for me, a dependably great entree trumps the unknown one every time. So if The Flying Star Restaurants ever take Pasta Pomodoro off the menu, I know I’ll stage a protest right on the spot. Life is too short to waste a meal and calories on anything else.

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