If there is one thing I can say about the midwest, it is that the food is distinctive in the inverse proportion of fat to vegetable matter. In this little town we stayed in for the family reunion, there were only a handful of restaurants. The one my family went to the most was a little place that fairly screamed 'home cooking'. The woman who runs it comes up with a new menu every night, and there was a certain theme in her choices that seems common to midwestern cooking. The vegetables, such as they were, were cooked beyond any hope of nutritional value, and then quite often smothered in a liberal coating of melted Velveeta cheese. The meat - and this includes beef, poultry, and seafood - was, in some form or another, fried. Salads consisted of iceberg lettuce drowning in dressing made from scratch, and with a mayonaise base. Jello salads figured predominately on the menu. For my younger sister and her husband - both vegetarians - trying to find something to eat became an amusing nightly ordeal.
And we have been spoiled, out here on the West Coast, with a gourmet coffee shop in every neighborhood. Bil-1 and I decided to try our luck at the store that advertised cappuchinos and chai tea. The tea was just fine, although I did get a kick out of the woman who informed me that the 'spiced' (normal) version was just too spicy for her. The cappuchino, however, was not. Our first clue should have been the distinct lack of any cappuchino machine noises, but we were distracted by some other people wandering by. The General Mills commercial insists that you can't tell the difference between their cappuchino mix and the real thing. They are wrong. Very very wrong.
I managed to get an upgrade to first class on my flight home on Sunday. The meal began with a fresh spinach salad, and there were perfectly steamed vegetables accompanying the main course. I had no idea how much I was missing *real* food until I found myself getting excited over airplane food. Sheesh!
As news of my impending nuptials made its way around the family members at the reunion, I was cornered by more than one well-meaning relative and given wedding advice. Giving advice seems to be a common theme for many people when they learn that someone is going to have some sort of Big Event, and my relatives were certainly no exception. "For your honeymoon, go on a cruise", I was told. Of course, I've been hearing that one for a while from friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. Richard's and my current honeymoon suggestion that we go to New Zealand and try to get bit parts for the final filming of The Lord of the Rings is usually met with an odd stare, but somehow I think our idea is more appropriate for two nerds than a cruise. Heh. Other suggestions have centered around the wedding itself. What kind of food to serve. Where to get married. Whether we should even *have* a wedding at all. This last has been rather amusing because my dad, continuing a long running joke that started back when my older sister was planning her wedding, occasionally offers a lump sum if we'll just elope instead of have a church wedding. We joke back that all he has to do is up the ante enough and we might just do it.
It's been kind of fun to listen, so I really don't mind the advice too much, even though Richard and I will make up our own minds on what to do. My favorite so far was from the reunion, where one of my who-knows-what-version-of-cousins pulled me aside to let me know that, speaking from the experience of marrying off three children, weddings aren't all they're cracked up to be, and if I really wanted to do it stress free, I should elope. Bringing both sets of parents with us, of course, so they don't feel left out, and by the way, Hawaii is a lovely place to honeymoon.
Hmm.... I wonder if my dad put her up to it? (grin)