Sunday, May 10, 2009

You Can Call Me Al

We went to the Texas Road House this evening, and it was a very nice time.

It's one of that broad category of eateries that infests most American cities these days - a national chain masquerading as a local restaurant, with all sorts of corporate-approved kitsch on the walls and "flair" on the servers. On the one hand, if you're looking for anything more than a programmed dining experience, you will have to look elsewhere. Everything about the place was designed by soulless automatons and tested by focus groups. On the other hand, well, those automatons know what they're doing. The food is good, the prices are reasonable, and you always leave thinking that you should come back again sometime. It's like that ad for, where the husband is in the hotel bathroom luxuriating in the free shampoo and the wife tells him it's probably just a ploy to get a better review on "Oooooooh," he responds, pouring the shampoo onto his hair as he stands fully dressed in front of the mirror, "they got me! They got me!" I know how he feels.

Six months ago we couldn't even walk into the place. As part of the ambiance, the automatons decreed that every table should have a bucket of peanuts, and people would be encouraged to throw the shells onto the floor. Kim and I went a couple of times, but only when Tabitha was out of town with Grandma and Grandma for a weekend, and even then we hosed off our shoes before we walked back into the house.

But now peanuts are okay! And several rounds of phone calls - including twenty minutes with a very nice woman in a peanut roasting factory somewhere in North Carolina - convinced us that indeed these peanuts were not cross-contaminated with other nuts as most peanuts are. Oh, glorious day.

Kim had a margarita as big as her head, which was only appropriate. Happy Mother's Day!

Tabitha had a marvelous time shelling peanuts - the first time in her life she has been able to do that - and tossing the shells onto the floor. Even in such an environment, I still can't bring myself to do that, though. Ah well.

Whenever we have traditional American meals featuring Large Slabs O' Meat, Lauren and I bond over the A.1. Sauce. For those of you who have not already discovered the carnivore's elixir of life, well, you're missing out. It does seem to run in the family. I remember talking to my grandmother once about it (she was always up late when I would come rolling home in high school, and those discussions often went in odd directions), and she took the subject and ran with it. Apparently my dad liked it too, when he was younger. "I would buy nice pieces of meat and then he drowned them in that [stuff]!" she said. And then she looked at me, since that tradition had clearly been passed on. And then she just sighed.

Lauren loves A.1. Or, as she calls it, Al. "Pass me the Al Sauce," she'll say, and I have this vision of Chef Gore standing in the White House with a cleaver in his hand. I have never done illegal drugs. I have never needed to.

So we had our Al, and were glad in it.

We took a couple small bags of roasted peanuts home with us for future use, though I don't know if they ever made it inside the house. Now all I need is a margarita.

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