Thank goodness good friends still call to invite us out to dinner. We used to be an active part of a fun dinner group; just some couples that would gather, once a month on the third Saturday night, whoever could find a sitter, and go to a different restaurant each time. After years of Saturday nights, it turns out one couple was the glue holding the whole group together, and when they moved away, the group slowly drifted apart, as groups sometimes do.
Now we don’t get out much, as they say. No particular reason, really just a general feeling of comfortable satisfaction spending the weekends together with our kids, coupled with a marked lack of advance social planning. But some good friends still call, pick a date, make the reservation and get us back out into the city.
So we found ourselves out and about last night in a fun, noisy, young, hoppin’ restaurant downtown. We were somewhere close to the oldest people there, or maybe I only saw the youth, I’m not sure. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Just that it felt vaguely like crashing a party of cool kids, with a grateful feeling that they let me in to spend my money.
The concept was eclectic Mexican, with a menu where I could have ordered anything based on the tantalizing descriptions. One dish jumped off the trendy page though, and when the (very young) waiter stopped by to inquire if we had any questions about the menu, I asked about the dish. It was delicious, he said, very rich, and if I wanted something lighter, he recommended the mahi mahi tacos.
Fish tacos? Hello? I have had those many times, always good, but not splurge-worthy. I was OUT, and I wanted the Crispy Pork Belly Tacos with guacamole diablo and pickled vegetables, thank you very much.
I must say, this dish was absolutely delicious. I loved it. The meat melted in my mouth but had a crispy caramelized crust that was reminiscent of bacon. The spicy avocado melded perfectly with the richness and was balanced by the sourness of the vegetables. It surpassed my expectations.
Walking back to the car, the Christmas lights twinkling around the tall buildings and an unusual amount of people all about, I felt full and warm in the drizzly sleety snow and did I mention full?
The night out was fun and refreshingly interesting for a Saturday night, time spent laughing and talking with good friends and good food. Still, I was happy to arrive back home and change into my flannel pajamas (elastic waist – yeah!) and just be, well, home again. It did not take long to drift off to sleep.
Around 3:00 am, I woke with an acute awareness that I had consumed the innards of a pig that had been garnished with guacamole diablo (Diablo? Does that mean hot or devilish?) and those pickled vegetables of Beelzabub. Really, what was I thinking? Although I don’t drink, I had clearly been drunken with the out-ness of the evening. The intoxication of friends and food and youth and twinkly lights was *poof* gone in the dark of the night, and I was left with a food hangover. As I propped myself up on a pile of pillows to have gravity assist the contents of my stomach back down my esophagus, I recalled how often I heard the farm report in my youth, the one that played on the radio at noon on weekdays and would start the broadcast each day with the price of pork bellies. I don’t think they were selling those pork bellies to Mexican restaurants back in Wisconsin. As the long-ago-broadcasted words swirled around in my head, the radio announcer’s voice seemed to mock my culinary choices and asked if I also wanted to eat some feed corn or, perhaps, some silage as an appetizer.
The good news about a food hangover is that the morning still breaks bright and new, and for once I felt no temptation to eat any of the bacon I made for the kids’ breakfast. Think of all the calories I saved by having nothing but my smoothie. Good thing friendship is a soothing tonic; and rich meals, like childbirth, are seldom remembered in full detail.