Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck

I recently picked up Nora Ephron's humorous book, I Feel Bad About My Neck.  It seems that Nora didn't take herself too seriously and her style was easy going.  I like a good laugh and this book did the trick.  While I believe her intended audience was older women, it still was quite entertaining.  And I felt young, which is never a bad thing.  The chapters I liked the most discussed parenthood verses parenting, New York real estate, and missing favorite foods that have been lost to a closed bakery/cafe/restaurant.  This brought me to think of some of the foods I yearn for every now and again but are gone.

When Macaroni Grill was new to the scene, my family went every now and again.  We liked the place, a lot.  And since my mom had pretty much given the kibosh to Olive Garden (during one visit, it took twenty minutes to seat us when there were more than ten tables available - which I have since learned was no fault of the restaurant itself but the time of day and number of staff on the premises - but I digress), Macaroni Grill was our new spot.  Plus, that focaccia bread was way better than any bread stick.  I always ordered a dish that I loved there, the chicken calzone.  The dipping sauces made the dish: one was a balsamic vinegar reduction and the other, a caesar dressing-like aioli.  I lived for the dipping sauces, savored each bite, used up every bit of both.  And then one day, I got my plate and the balsamic reduction sauce was missing.  I kindly informed the waiter of the mistake when he informed me that they no longer served the calzone, or any dish for that matter, with that specific sauce.  Later came the blow that the calzone was no longer on the menu.  But, as luck would have it, I could still special order my favorite dish even if it did only come with the caesar sauce.  And then finally, the restaurant decided to no longer serve it.  And then I put the kibosh on Macaroni Grill.

Still, the most memorable food I miss on a regular basis is the ZCMI chocolate chocolate doughnut.  This delicious dessert was the pinnacle of the cake doughnut world for me.  I savored every bite and was known to spend my own 54 cents + tax on one, which was pretty much a miracle seeing as I held tight to my money and hardly spent a dime.  This doughnut was large and plump, with hardly a hole in the middle, topped with light brown, made-with-butter frosting that wasn't too chocolatey and thus allowed for the flavor of the cake doughnut to meld well with, instead of be taken over by, the frosting.  It was kept refrigerated inside a glass case at the little side bakery attached to the department store, and served a bit cold then slowly warmed as you enjoyed it bite by bite.  We'd make special trips to get one.  Then one day we went to get a doughnut and the bakery had been turned into a knick-knack shop.  We had hardly a warning!  The sweet bakery lady was gone.  Loaves of sourdough and cracked wheat were replaced with games you'd never heard of and super-soaker water guns.  The pastry glass case had stopped refrigeration and now held magnetic curiosities and swinging pendulums.  Our doughnuts ceased to exist.  Then ZCMI got bought out and part of my childhood was whisked away with it.  I tried to find the doughnut downtown at a bakery possibly owned by the same people who did the original doughnut, but I was never successful.  Since then, I've had several chocolate chocolate doughnuts, wishing, hoping that another bakery could get close to what I've enjoyed before.  But no luck.  And so I stick with the yeast-risen doughnuts and enjoy them a lot.  But the cake doughnut is up against all odds, a grand contender, a doughnut I miss and pine for especially on overcast, fall days.

Do you have a special food you miss?  Nora Ephron's was cabbage strudel and she ended up, after years of searching, finding the very food she had gone without all that time.


jamesandlindsaylattin said...

Ha! Funny you should mention ZCMI...I just recently had a similar conversation with the woman I visit teach. Did you ever have the Bismark? I have been in search of a pudding-filled escape like those of my childhood.

ash said...

Oh, the Bismark, yum! I have yet to find a wonderful one. The cream is key.

Chap said...

You are such a good writer of your thoughts. There have been many things I have mourned as they have passed. When they didn't let anyone drive through Bad Kissingen anymore but forced us to use the Ringstrasse was a big one, it still makes me sad. Keep writing, I love your thoughts!