Posted by: literallydelicious | March 19, 2010

Food Memories

My husband and I went to dinner a few nights ago at Joe’s Crab Shack. First time we’ve ever tried the place, and though it was pricey, it was pretty darn good. We both ordered boils — mine with snow crab legs, clams, corn and red potatoes, his with lobster tails, shrimp, clams, etc. I turned down the bib the waiter offered, but I probably shouldn’t have, because I darn near drooled over the red potatoes. Yumm!

When we lived in North Carolina, we used to go to a little place in Swansboro on the White Oak River. It was nothing fancy — a little squat building with a big deck off the back and one side extending over the water. The deck furniture was cheap plastic, the tablecloths were paper, and the napkins were paper towels. We always sat outside and ordered seafood boils there, too. That was where I was introduced to Old Bay seasoning (which somehow got left off my list of staples — we’re never without it!). There was something incredibly comfortable about eating great seafood with a breeze coming off the river carrying the scent of the ocean. Wow, I miss that.

The moving we did with Bob’s career introduced me to lots of new food. I came from a meat-and-potatoes family. Spaghetti was about as exotic as we got growing up. I learned to love Greek food and seafood in Charleston, SC. I tolerated not being able to buy fresh shrimp without the heads still attached in Mobile, AL. I fell in love with great Mexican food in San Diego, and did the same with vinegar-based and mustard barbecue sauces in Augusta, GA.

True story: the first time we had barbecue at a place called Bobby’s not far from Augusta, I asked where the sauce was. The waitress pointed to two squeeze bottles: one held clear thin liquid, the other thick yellowish sauce. “But where’s the barbecue sauce?” I asked, and she laughed. “We don’t serve that ketchup stuff around here.” Another restaurant did have the ketchup stuff, but when the waitress there saw me using it, she commented, “You aren’t from around here, are you?”

I got a better education in Greek food in Augusta, and had my first sushi there, too. Bob’s loved it for years, but I had the typical “You want me to eat raw fish???” reaction. For the record, about the only raw fish I eat is tuna; everything else in my favorite sushi dishes is cooked. We had a wonderful sushi place in Jacksonville, NC. We were such regular customers that the chef would fix special dishes for us. One time he wouldn’t tell me what it was until I’d taken a bite (yeah, I know how many of you would never do that, but you would have missed a great food). Turned out, it was fried shrimp heads. Also turned out, it tasted darn familiar. I’m convinced I’d had it before without ever finding out what it was.

Back here in Tulsa, I’ve been introduced to Vietnamese food at Mekong Delta and Thai at Lanna Thai. I told a friend I wanted to go to Thailand; her in-laws had just returned and shown her tons of pictures, so she asked, “What do you want to see?” “The restaurants,” I replied. I want to eat my way through both countries. And drink Thai tea all the way. It’s a strong, sweet tea topped with evaporated milk or condensed milk. I tried making it at home, until our waitress told me you have to use Thai tea leaves. No other tea will turn out a good one. Next time I’m in the area of the Asian market she recommended, I’ll buy some and give it a shot.

I also love Cajun food. And African (unfortunately, the African/Caribbean place we went to went out of business). I’ve been dipping my toe (my tongue?) into Indian foods. I’ve tried a few Salvadoran dishes and am looking forward to more, and Jewish and German. Hardly anyone in my family will let me pick a restaurant when we go out — are my tastes too adventuresome or theirs too American? Depends on who you ask.

It’s all food. And pretty much it’s all good.



  1. You do appear to be very adventurous in your eating. We like to try dives and diners, so I won’t pooh pooh your quest for good ethnic food.

    I love a good dining experience. I steer clear of seafood since I have a shellfish allergy, but I do enjoy the discovery of a new taste sensation.

    I miss the heck out of good vinegar based pork barbeque. Do you have a recipe for that one? spw

    • The first place I can remember going to eat with Bob when we were dating was Hank’s Hamburgers on Peoria, I think, or maybe Lewis. It was a dinky little place and strictly take-out, so you went in and got your burgers, then ate in your car or at home. You needed a safe place to put the bag when you were back in the car because grease just oozed out of the paper wrappers and paper bag. They served their burgers with fried onions — evidenced by the fact that you could hardly see through the plate-glass windows because of the grease lining them.

      But they were darn good burgers.

      I’ve collected some recipes for vinegar-based sauce, but haven’t tried them. (Ditto for the mustard sauces.) One of these days when I’m doing baby back ribs, I’ll cook up some of the sauces and see if any come close. I will keep you posted.

      My favorite two Southern cooking quotes: “If it ain’t fried, it ain’t done,” and “If it ain’t pork, it ain’t barbecue.” I love pork Q, lol.

  2. Yeah, mom’s shellfish allergy makes cooking for her sometimes a pain. Not much goes better over a good piece of fish than a Cajun-inspired crawfish sauce (crawdads in East Texas).

    I frequently say I’ll try anything… and I do mean *anything*. My sushi tastes lean me towards uni, hamachi, and sashimis over nigiri or rolls. And I’ve got the opportunity to do some travelling to Seoul here in the near future and have already told my coworkers that I’ll be spending an entire day at the Seoul fish market and not to come looking for me until the following morning. Octopus tentacle tips hacked off, coerced onto a plate of daikon and pickled ginger and squeezed with lime – the served still squirming… yeah, that’s in my future.

    But you two and your pork BBQ can go on. Living in KY for a few years made me realize exactly how much I crave good Tex Mex and beef BBQ.

    Why is it I now have a hankering for a gyro?!?

    • Still squirming?? Oh, no, no, Zack. I’ve always thought I would try anything (except scorpions — I’m seriously sensitive to their stings and have no idea what ingesting the whole thing would do, but have no intention of ever finding out). Then I saw a travel show to Asia — may have been Korea — where the host ate a live baby octopus. The little guy kept trying to get out, wiggling its little tentacles out and grabbing hold of the man’s face. Nuh-uh. I like octopus, but when my food is fighting to escape my mouth, I draw the line.

      We’d be in serious trouble if either of us had a shellfish allergy, because some weeks we live on it. And we both love it so much, I’m not sure either of us would be willing to give it up just because the other couldn’t have it. 🙂

      So drop by again after you’ve hit the Seoul fish market and tell us how it went. Or send pictures of the squirms.

  3. When I was young (back in the dark ages), my folks used to drive up to OKC to have dinner at a Mexican resturant. Why OKC? Because it was the only Mexican resturant in the state. It was there I learned to love quacamole. The kitchen staff used to peek at the two gringo kids who actually ate it.

    My mom loved eating the corn tortillas, lathered with butter and salt. Back in those days, they were offered like biscuits with the meal and you got as many as you wanted. And could my petite mom put them away!

    • I think I was in college before I started eating real Mexican food (though I had the occasional taco before then). How funny to think that there was a time when OK had only one Mexican restaurant! Though, yeah, I’d drive two hours for really good food of any sort. We used to drive 70 miles each way in SC to get these great chocolate chip cookies.

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