I can’t believe it’s been a while since I posted. I’ve written quite a few posts in my head, but apparently that’s where they’ve stayed, trapped in there with the cobwebs and old Silly Putty and foggy newspaper memories from when I was an intern.
So, let’s catch up. Umm, we sold our house in Nashville, and flew down last Friday to close on it. It was poignant. We drove by it, of course, since we stay with friends who live nearby when we’re in town. I got a little misty-eyed, thinking of all that’s happened in our lives since we moved there. We lost our 13-year-old rottweiler, Bailey, there. I got cancer there, and got rid of cancer there, I hope. I left my beloved journalism career, began volunteering like a madwoman and spent countless nights with wine by the pool and firepit, laughing, figuring out life and then laughing some more at the idea that we might’ve figured out life.
We sold it to a couple who are about to have their first baby any day now, and really needed to land somewhere quickly. As most buyers are doing now, of course, they lowballed us at first. Like, way, way lowballed us. Apparently there’s some financial guy out there giving advice that consists of something like “Hey, all sellers are underwater and desperate, and while perched on the cusp of bankruptcy they will grab any paltry amount you offer them.”
This message is reinforced by lazy real estate agents, who are simply taking the entire neighborhood’s f0r-sales — including short sales, foreclosures and standard sales — and dividing them to come up with a number way below what’s reasonable, even in this battered market.
We chuckled at their offer. (I wanted to spit upon it and put a curse their families, but again, D, the nice one, prevailed.) I guess that made sense, since we were only separated by a paltry $40,000. We came down a couple of thousand, and told them we weren’t upside down or desperate or interested in coming down anymore, thankyouverymuch.
But I guess they wanted the house, so they accepted our counter. We’re quite happy to have those second payments off of us. Now we can use that money for other important stuff in Dallas, like refrigerators and dryers.
Yes, our doomed Dallas luck continues. Our refrigerator died last week. I’m sure it had nothing to do with us shoehorning it into a space that was much too small for it. I mean, we’d had it for nine years, and moved it four times. I guess we got our money’s worth out of it, although I remember when things like that lasted for 20 years or more. So we got one of those with freezer on the bottom. Not sure how we’ll like it yet.
Then our dryer suddenly started burning big holes in our clothes. This could be a problem, we decided, since large, burnt holes in your clothes are not fashionable, and we live in Fashion Capitol, Texas. Now we’re on the dryer hunt. That second job at Home Depot is looking more and more likely.
Any second job income, of course, will be spent on food, food, food. We continue our “don’t eat at the same place twice” philosophy of exploring new restaurants. After my last restaurant blog, I got a nice note from Cafe Brazil. They mentioned that they have 10 restaurants around the area, not just two. So I figure we can eat at all 10 without violating the letter of the “no repeat” rule, if not the spirit of it. Yay!
For some reason, I allowed myself to become enticed by a neat logo and buy a restaurant.com coupon for a place called The Clay Pit. Last night, we decided to use it. It was lovely inside, and we were having a great time. Until we both opened the menu and remembered that we don’t like Indian food. And the “clay pit” refers to the oven used in Indian cooking. Uhhh, poor planning. Last time I had Indian food, it was four years ago, and after a few years, I forget that I really don’t like it. The place was packed with families of Indian heritage, so it must be good, but it sure wasn’t our favorite.
We trekked out north to Richardson to go to Cuzco’s, a Latin restaurant. Couldn’t wait for this one! We walked in, and were greeted by a young lady with a big smile. There was a big table loaded with fresh fruit. Mmmmm. I headed for it with my grabby little hand out, then noticed that all of the tables and chairs were draped in lavender bunting. I looked around, and a whole bunch of really dressed up Latin people were staring at us quizzically with “who invited the white girls?” looks. It seems that we’d stumbled into a quinceanera, a girl’s 15th birthday party. The restaurant was reserved for the party, which we’d accidentally crashed. I guess that’s what that sign in Spanish on the door said.
So we wished the girl feliz cumpleanos and got the hell out of her party. We’ll try Cuzco’s again soon, though.
We stopped one night near downtown at a place called Eatzi’s, which reminded us of Italy. It’s a big bakery/restaurant, where people pick up food to go. But they also will cook it for you there. We got big pasta bowls with fresh veggies, and some garlic bread, and a roasted carrot. (It needed to be served warm, but I wasn’t bright enough to get it heated up before I tried to eat it.) We took it all outside and ate under the stars… oops, I mean, under the neon lights. I can see stopping there again on the way home sometime.
Near Eatzi’s is a restaurant called Good Eats. This is a blast from my past, because when I worked at the Dallas Times Herald, we’d often order out from there and send an intern to go pick it up. Of course, on deadline, with one hand on your computer and the other on your fork, anything tasted good. But they have good veggie plates, and big old rolls that taste like the ones the cafeteria ladies used to make back in elementary school. I can’t believe it’s still here.
One of the oddest places we’ve been has been a Chinese restaurant called Jasmine. We walked in, up a huge set of stairs and into the 1950s, for real. We were the only people in there under 65 by a long shot (I know, I know, it’s not that far away from me. Just shut up). The waiters were mostly older Asian men. There was red carpet, and red leatherette booths, and bright gold pagoda things hanging all around. A shiny white-lacquered baby grand piano stood on a raised area, and an older gentleman was tickling the ivories with the recent hits of George Gershwin and colleagues. You could tell the table after table of older people knew just what to expect, and wanted just that. No fusion cuisine here, no exotic pan-Asian seared Fu Zhou fish balls. Just mushy egg rolls, and stock hot-and-sour soup, and everyday entrees. We won’t be heading back there, even if it did make me feel young and sprightly for a while.
Perhaps the pinnacle of food heaven arrived today, though, with our visit to the Texas State Fair. It’s big, really big… think of your state fair, then multiply it by about 804. It’s 277 acres, chock full of food booths, midway rides, food booths, farm animals, food booths, expensive rides, food booths, a giant statue of two football players made of butter, food booths, new car shows, food booths, polka dancers, and some more food booths.
One of the food booths was painted bright yellow, and specialized in all things bananas. Banana pudding. Banana cream pie. Banana rum cake. Bananas Foster. And … turkey salad! Whaaaat? Who let that in? Do you think the booth owner was going over his list one day, and said, “Hmmm, what goes well with all of this banana stuff? I know! Turkey salad!”?
As you may have guessed, the fair is quite proud of its food, specifically its fried food. For weeks, local media have been reporting on the fried food competition. Apparently winning this is the equal to scoring the Nobel Peace Prize or a MacArthur grant. This fair must have oil wells on site to pump millions of gallons straight from the canola oil factory and into the bloodstreams of Texans. “Oil” is considered a side dish for most of these foods.
The winner for “best taste” this year was fried Frito pie, in which they make little hollow balls out of corn chips, fill it with chili and then drop it all into a basket of boiling oil. The line was incredible for this tasty treat, which was a long way from the “open a little bag of Fritos and dump in some canned chili” Frito pies of my youth.
Then there was the chicken-fried bacon on a stick. (We didn’t eat that, we just stared at it with a mixture of revulsion and awe.) That stand was troublingly close to the baby pigs in the barnyard exhibit. That just seemed kinda mean.
One of the other popular new treats was fried beer. This guy made a little pocket out of pretzel-like dough, filled it with beer, then deep-fried it. Now, D never met a beer she didn’t like, but even she couldn’t go there. The idea of warm beer inside a fried pretzel pod just didn’t work for her.
Now I know where the Tennessee fair got the idea for fried butter from. And the fried Snickers bar. And the fried Twinkies. And the fried Moon Pies. And the fried Oreos… (OK, I have to admit, those were really, really good.) I’ve decided that there aren’t any sugary snack foods that haven’t been dunked in sizzling oil.
I’m going to see a cardiologist tomorrow for some preventive maintenance. I’m thinking I’ll just go ahead and have a couple of stents put in, so we can take D’s mother to the fair next weekend.
All of these food booths were scattered throughout the spinning, bouncing, zero-gravity rides, designed cleverly to induce vomitous motion sickness, after which you could stagger a few feet to another food booth and reload with a few more servings of trans-fats.
And none of them took real money, just fair tickets, which cost 50 cents each. This was helpful in fooling you into thinking that you weren’t really paying $4 for a Coke, or $5 for four fried Oreos. (OK, that might’ve been well worth it.) It’s like shopping with play money, or Euros. “Eight dollars for a Coke? What? Oh, wait, that’s tickets, not dollars! Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s much better. I can’t believe I thought a Coke was EIGHT DOLLARS! Ha ha ha ha. Silly me. It’s really only FOUR dollars! That’s a bargain!”
Now, the big question is, when the fair’s over, are they going to deep-fry the big butter football player statue? ‘Cause if they are, I’m gonna get me a slice of that.