Oh that’s right, pasta was invented in China

I live in a pretty depressed area. Industries have left here. Johnson Shoes was founded here and, more importantly, so was IBM. When IBM left, there was a lot of housing inventory. Even years later, we got a good buy on a house because they’d left. It had been on the market for a year. If we leave here, it will be difficult to unload.

This is the best area I’ve ever lived in for good Southern Italian food aside from maybe when I was a kid, because the area has a high Italian population. The pizza around here isn’t completely outstanding but the average here is a whole lot better than I’ve become used to over the years. Unfortunately, my wife’s and daughter’s idea of good pizza is Papa John, both of them having relatively deprived upbringings when it comes to pizza, so I eat that more than the good stuff. And I can stop at a local hamische (I’ll translate that from Yiddish on request) restaurant that doesn’t take reservations and serves cannoli exactly like I think cannoli should taste. 

One of the better places around here doesn’t use boxes for carry out pizza; instead, they take a large sheet of paper like butcher paper, lay the pizza on it, and tie the ends above the pizza. You carry it from above where it’s tied. Unfortunately, pizza doesn’t stay hot that way. Why do they do it that way? Because that’s how they did it when they opened in 1946 and it’s how they still do it. 

There are a lot of failed places to eat around here, vacant restaurants, particularly small Italian places that probably mainly sold pizza. They often stay vacant for a long time. I’ve been here over a year and a half and some places have been vacant for as long as I’ve lived here. A little after we moved here, the bagel place down the hill from us closed. The people who owned it got better jobs and couldn’t sell the business. It was turning a profit and they were selling for less than their equipment was worth, but no takers.

However, once in a while someone else tries to make a go of it at the same location. And that’s what this sign is. An Italian place closed, just left its sign up, and a Chinese place is taking over the location and isn’t yet open. And hasn’t yet taken down the special in place when the old place closed. 

So this rather sad looking sign actually shows that things are looking up. A location will become active again. 

I hope they make it. And I hope their food is good enough to make it. 

Views: 97

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on March 8, 2018 at 10:08pm

I can stop at a local hamische (I’ll translate that from Yiddish on request) restaurant that doesn’t take reservations and serves cannoli exactly like I think cannoli should taste.

Sicilian pastries just like bubbe used to make?  

Comment by koshersalaami on March 8, 2018 at 10:16pm

Where I grew up in NY, near the City, there weren’t only Jews. 

Bubbe could cook, really cook, but she never would have taken a shot at cannoli. Mandelbrayt, sure. Maybe ruggelach, though I like a good mandelbrayt better and hers qualified. 

Comment by Ron Powell on March 8, 2018 at 10:58pm

"I hope they make it. And I hope their food is good enough to make it."

If your family thinks Papa John's is good pizza, the place has a good chance of surviving in a location where faux Italian gets a pass....

Who knows? It may all come down to how they package their take out...

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 9, 2018 at 2:01am

There are so many factors that go into the success of a restaurant.  I've seen Chinese Americans successfully running Japanese Steakhouses and Mexican restaurants.  Location is important, but not if the food is really exceptional.  As you point out, the education of the palate is a big factor.

A friend went skiing with a group of doctors he went through residency with.  About mid-week a fellow from NYC said I would really like a bagel to which my North Carolina friend replied, "They've probably got them at the quick stop in town."  to which his friend replied, "Would you buy barbecue from Kroger?"

We used to go to a ma and pa Chinese restaurant with a mural of Venice on the wall.  Care to guess what was there before?

Comment by koshersalaami on March 9, 2018 at 5:15am

The Chinese restaurant with the mural of Venice is the perfect example of what this picture is about. In fact, not having been inside the place, you never know.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on March 9, 2018 at 8:47am

I always try my damnest to peek into the kitchen at restaurants.  If I see an Asian guy making my Pasta alla Norma I'm predisposed to being very suspicious of how it will be (...and I still compare all Italian foods to what my Nonna used to make them...  she was a kitchen goddess).

On the other hand, one of the best pizzerias in Cicero (the home of REAL pizza) is owned and operated by a couple from Thailand and my blond haired, blue eyed minion's Sfincione knocks it right out of the park (my Nonna would have been so proud of them).

Comment by Boanerges on March 9, 2018 at 9:05am

Now, that is ... what? Irony? Certainly humourous. Around here, we get fresh lake perch when the fleet's our during the commercial season. If you like fish, there really isn't anything tastier.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on March 9, 2018 at 1:36pm

Around here, we get fresh lake perch when the fleet's our during the commercial season. If you like fish, there really isn't anything tastier.

Let me start out by saying that I adore fresh perch fried with a light panko breading, served with french fries and home-made cole slaw. That is a major YUUUMMM!!! 

The only thing comparable, IMO, are the fish cookouts they hold up in northern Wisconsin/Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  

More to the point of this post, Suzy and I used to take long weekend trips up there and ended up being friends with, as far as I can tell, the only Black people in the northern part of either state (they owned the resort we used to stay at).    

Max and Marlie (our friends) used to hold something called a fish boil most weekends (lots and lots of fresh caught whitefish, red potatoes and white corn dumped in a huge pot of water sitting over a big outside, wood fire where the fish were boiled until the fish oil overflowed the pot making the flames leap up 5 feet...that how they could tell it was done).  

We'd all sit around, watch the fire, drink WAAAAY too much beer and brandy and snack of Marlie's breaded whitefish livers (don't knock them until you tried them!).  They'd end up with 40 - 50 people and the groups consisted of Swedes, Black people (2 only LOL), lesbians, Native Americans, an Eskimo couple, a few gay guys, a couple of Hispanics, at least a half dozen Asians (lard only knows where they came from) and a smattering of every other race, ethnicity and diversity.  What was cool was that everyone got along, got drunk together and acted seriously stupid (but only in a good way).  

What was also ALWAYS humorous was that the Swedes & Norwegians (after more than a few drinks) unfailingly used to start arguing about how THEY "inventing" fish boils, which was invariably met with "Oh hell no you didn't!" from just about every other racial/ethnic group present.  Seems that everyone thought THEIR ethnicity/race/nationality invented "fish boils" and they wanted everyone to know it (even though EVERYONE knows that lesbians were the actual inventors of it  LOL).

Comment by koshersalaami on March 9, 2018 at 1:42pm

It was invented by those Norwegian Lesbian Farmers Garrison Keillor used to talk about

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 10, 2018 at 5:15am

Amy, they do shrimp boils all the way from Charleston, SC to New Orleans and I've never met a Swede in any of those places.  On the other hand, Swedes and Norwegians can get credit for inventing lutefisk (dried white fish marinated in lye.) The owners of the place sound interesting.  How did they get there?  How did they have the cajones to open a business?

We were driving through the White Mountains in Arizona in the late '60s and were nearly out of gas when we came to the town of McNary, Arizona.  I was startled when a black man dressed like a lumberjack came out to pump our gas.  Turned out the town was populated with blacks, mainly, who seemed to own the businesses they were working in.  Later I found that a lumber mill was relocated from McNary, Louisiana to Arizona, and the owners recruited 700 black Louisianans to Arizona in the 1920s where the owners of the mill welcomed everyone.  At one time there were black, Hispanic, Navajo and Apache residents (the town is in the middle of the Apache reservation).  A fire at the mill in 1979 changed everything according to this account.

I had fantasized that the town had been settled by pony soldiers.  Sorry, this wasn't about food, but rather about everyone getting along.  As I was getting gas I remember thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if all of America looked like this?"

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