July 9th, 2010


Chinese Sounds Awfully Good!

Inspired by a comment from tedwords. This memory just came boiling up from my distant past.

As is the case with families that are scattered to the four winds, it seems the only times I see my extended family members is at weddings and funerals. And there have been lots more of the latter than the former. For this particular trip, we found ourselves in the middle of Illinois.

This is where the family on my Mom’s side settled in the mid to late 1800’s. The settled in and around a little town called Ottawa. Nice little town of about 15,000 souls. It lays a bit south of Interstate 80 nearly halfway across the state.

Our forebears on my Mom’s side were from Norway (her Mom’s side) and Sweden (Grampa’s folks).

It was actually the one place on the planet we could all still call “Home”.

We were there to bury one of my grandparents. Cannot remember which one really. The RedHead was with me on this trip I think, so it may have been my Gramp. So 12 to 15 years ago.

At any rate my sisters, J and B, and my cousins, B and L (and various members of their entourages, for lack of a better word), The RedHead and I found ourselves at loose ends for dinner one night.

We are a pretty diverse group food wise. (And in quite a few other ways as well!) Kind of amazing considering where we are all from. That area was settled by a lot of folks of Scandinavian decent. And we all lived at opposite ends of the country at that time.

I was in Texas (of course), one of my sisters was in the Spokane area, the other in Pennsylvania. The two cousins were living around Indianapolis at that time I think.

We’re a little closer together these days but not by much. Cousins live in Tennessee and Indianapolis. The three of used to be pretty tight until they hit our teens. And we moved away because Dad was in the Navy.

Both my sisters live in Florida and I’m in still in Texas. Still see each other only occasionally.

Well, as I said, we found ourselves at loose ends for dinner. About the only thing we could agree on was we were hungry. Some one found this Chinese buffet place out on the edge of town.

Got it out of a phonebook. Can you imagine? Yeah. Remember those? No web access at Grammie’s house. HAHAHAHA! Web access in general was not as ubiquitous as it is now.

Near as I could tell it was nearly in the cornfields. No. IT WAS IN THE CORNFIELDS.

We caravanned our way out there. There were quite a few of us. Everybody had spouses and/or kids and we all went. We rolled out of the little town and into the pitch blackness of rural Illinois. That particular part of Illinois has some contour to it. Hills, I mean.

I thought we had taken a wrong turn until we passed over the top of this hill. It was the only thing you could see. Damned place was lit up like an effin’ Christmas Tree. A veritable Beacon of Oriental foodery in th night.

The parking lot was full so The RedHead and I thought it would probably be okay.

It was AWFUL!

I know that regional cooking is different. I expect that.

And I guess that they had to make allowances for being in the country in the Mid-west. Reckon there are some things these farm boys just wouldn’t eat.

I’ve eaten Chinese food all over the country, coast to coast, and various points in between, in Europe, and even Singapore. There ain’t that much difference in your staple dishes.

Worst Chinese meal I’ve ever had.

Of course my cousins just snarfed everything in sight. Reckon they didn’t know any better.