Friday, May 19, 2006

On the Lack of a Decent Diner

Memphis is a culturally rich city, full of diverse and vibrant people. We have good decent tolerable weather most of the year, and there are a lot of fun and entertaining things to do. Some of our restaurants are known the world over for their flavorful, masterful cuisine.

What Memphis doesn't have is a good diner. The kind of place you can drop into if you really just want a plain ol' sandwich, and maybe a bowl of soup. Plain soup.

Don't get me wrong--we have sandwich shops galore. The problem is that most of them have gone all modern with ingredients like chipotle mustard and tarragon mayonnaise, applesmoked bacon, and 72 different kinds of exotic cheeses.

What if I just want a good tuna melt?

Perkin's Restaurant (a chain) is probably the closest thing to a real diner we have.

But they don't have a tuna melt.

McAlister's Deli, does have a tuna melt, but it's yellow fin tuna and you have to special order the melt part, which means they wave it near an open flame before they send it out to you. No thanks. They do have a good club sandwich, though, which is my second favorite. Perkin's has a decent club sandwich, too.

So, I'm stuck with deli sandwiches, for the most part. The good news is that there are some pretty decent delis in Memphis.

Fino's on the Hill makes the best deli-style sandwich in Memphis. So small it doesn't even have a website, this little hole-in-the-wall corner store does double duty as an Italian grocery store. They also have some Italian dishes on their menu, and I intend to order one someday. I've tried several times before, but when I open my mouth, "a ham and cheese with special dressing" is what comes out. Fino's is at the corner of Madison and McLean, if you're ever in Memphis. You can eat in their small dining area, or get it to go and skip over a couple of blocks to Overton Park and the Zoo picnic area.

Another little place, closer to my house, is Memphis Pizza Cafe. Yes, pizza. But they sell pretty decent sandwiches, too. My favorite is the half turkey and cheddar or sour dough. It's $2.50, with a smattering of chips alongside, and perfect for lunch. Their pizza's not bad either, and you can buy it by the slice. Another lunchtime plus.

My other two favorite delis are chains: Lenny's Sub Shop and Jersey Mike's. What I like most about Jersey Mike's isn't really a sandwich--it's the "Sub in a Tub". You can order any of their subs without bread. They put it in a long narrow carton instead. You won't be surprised to learn that I order the "Tuna Sub in a Tub with provolone and tomatoes".

But I'm really just looking for a good diner. Someplace casual, with a simple menu, real plates and forks, and good service.

I'll add it to my Lottery List.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Out of the Loop

I've got that outside-looking-in feeling. This morning, my co-workers were out in the hallway discussing last night's episode of "American Idol". I couldn't participate because I've never seen the show. Ever. Nor can I participate in the discussions about "Survivor", "Big Brother", or any of the other reality shows.

Any show, really.

I haven't watched network television since the third or fourth season of "Will & Grace" and no one wants to talk about that. I have no idea who or what is lost on "Lost", nor would I know a desperate housewife if she walked up an introduced herself. I am clueless as to what exactly it is that has made Paris Hilton famous or why Britney Spears's latest pregnancy was worthy of a Yahoo headline.

Lest you think I live in a cave, I do watch some television. If anyone wanted to gather round the coffee machine and discuss last night's lineup on HGTV (Home and Garden Television, for the unitiated), then I have a good shot at being able to chime in with something worthwhile. Or, if they wanted to talk about Seasons 1 or 2 of "Monk" or any of the first three seasons of "Starsky and Hutch", I can play. I'm watching those while I do my daily treadmill.

I'm feeling decidedly outside the mainstream, and I'm a little surprised to discover that I don't really mind that much. In fact, I think I'm going to sign off now and go watch some HGTV.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday Morning Blues

This is one of the gibbons at my local zoo.

She looks like I feel on most Monday mornings.

I'll bet she didn't get any writing done over the weekend either.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Honoring my Father and Mother

I've come to realize lately how very wise my parents are, and that I'll never, ever be that wise. Sure, I've had more education than they have, but they're a thousand times wiser than I'll ever be. They got that way by having two kids when they were little more than kids themselves, and then pulling out all the stops to see that those kids (unappreciative little brats that they might have been) had everything they needed to reach adulthood in relatively good shape.

They did it by putting aside some of their own dreams and learning how to achieve the others within their very tight budget. They canned their own vegetables and learned how to stretch the grocery budget by using meat as an accompaniment. They passed clothes around among the extended family. They wished for a larger house, so my dad built an addition onto our house on Dardon Avenue using a floorplan he drew on a sheet of notebook paper. With wood scavenged from buildings friends were tearing down, he built a huge den and laundry room, bigger than the living room, dining room and kitchen combined. Years later, he repeated this success in building my grandmother a one-bedroom loft apartment attached to my parents' house. He did let an architect look over the drawing, and he hired out more of the work, but the accomplishment is the same in my eyes.

My mom's wise, too. She worked for a group of pediatricians for 25 years, and she amazes me with her knowledge of health issues. Plus, she understands health insurance and can get an insurance claim straightened out in a matter of minutes. Add to that her ability to squeeze two-week vacations to Florida for four out of a one-salary household income, her astonishing ability to play piano by ear alone, and her unfailing calm in any sort of crisis, and it's easy to see why I think she's a pretty nifty woman.

I have it far too easy to become as wise as they are now. They made sure of that. They also made sure that I have not lived a single day of my life without knowing I was loved. Every. Single. Day. Not many people can say that, and I'm so blessed that I can.

Until next time,