Day 727 Thursday January 3, 2018 864 Days to Go
AT&T has a new ad campaign whose theme is “Just okay?”
There’s the brake guy, “we’re okay with brakes.”, “Just okay?”, “We got a saying around here. ‘If the brakes don’t stop you something else will.’ “
And that campaign pretty much sums up how I see the year going – unless we want to make a choice.
But let’s take a look at the year so far.
Last night Shelby and I went to dinner at Mamma’Zu before going to the Dancing With The Stars road tour show. Shelby has wanted to go to this restaurant for awhile. It’s a favorite with several friends and associates. It’s in down town in a new trendy neighborhood. The food is mostly Italian. Shelby did her homework and found out the lasagna is supposed to be outstanding and the appetizer of calamari, white beans, and greens is not to be missed. Some folks complained about the staff being dismissive, like Durgen Park in Boston I’m guessing. Okay, so going in, we know it’s going to be funky, slightly in your face, but great food. Oh, and there are no menus. You have to read the chalkboard behind the bar. And get there early because it fills up fast and they don’t take reservations for parties less than six.
We went planning to hit at 5:30 and it’s a good thing we did. We managed to get a table right away, but folks who came a little later had to wait. The place is nondescript. It sits on a corner. After you’ve been there you can recognize the faded writing in the cement above the door that announces the name of the place. It’s what I call a shoebox or rowhouse like layout, long and narrow. I forged in and saw someone who looked like a waiter. I held up my had with two fingers. “Two? This way.”
Yowza. He took us toward the back. Bar on the right, tables to the left, a few booths up by the front that seated four. There was a long table against the left wall for a party of about twenty. Running beside that table were some deuces; one behind the other, not side by side. We were seated in the last deuce, parallel to the party table. This meant that if anyone pushed back more than a foot they’d hit our table. I faced the back of the place which gave me a view of the wall behind Shelby that seemed to house a little office or staff area, the hallway to the bathroom, and to my right, the shelving for the spare candles, plus the bins for the dirty dishes. Behind that wall must have been the kitchen, because at one point we saw our rather short waitress climb the shelving to talk or yell through the opening.
Directly behind Shelby was a chair piled high with birthday presents for someone in the long table. The long table had a guy with a large stomach who sat at the end of the table and kept getting up every minute or thirty seconds to tell the staff something, or clear some dishes, pour some wine, take presents from people to put on the chair. No matter what, he bumped Shelby’s chair. We pulled our table toward the front. It didn’t matter, he still managed to hit the chair, even though we pulled our table toward the front three times. I couldn’t move it any further because of a person who seemed to weigh 350 pounds sitting at the long table right behind me. From my vantage point the large guy with the big stomach and the blue shirt reminded me of Donald Trump stalking on the stage at the debate with Hillary. Nice guy, but couldn’t keep still.
The waitress came to take our order. It was so loud that we really couldn’t hear her. Shelby got the lasagna and the aforementioned appetizer. I went with the veal marsala. Bread came out. It was really good. Fresh, had body, nice to swirl in the olive oil and pepper. Then we waited. Meanwhile putting up with fat stomach sloshing back and forth behind Shelby. This gave me time to observe the decor, which I would describe as worn out and last touched red paint from 1957. The candle boxes said their candles lasted 45 hours – fascinating, who knew?
Finally, our dinners arrived with a promise from the waitress that the appetizer would be out shortly. This led me to wonder, “Who does that? Who brings your entree out before the appetizer?” Maybe, I don’t understand, but to me the appetizer is to whet your appetite for the main course.
Now, this is a little thing, but the next thing I noticed was my plate. It was oval and had meat sitting in a brown gravy. The edges of the plate, the curved up sides of the oval, had little drops of the brown gravy on it. As if the meat had been tossed onto the plate and splashed. There was little regard for the presentation, much like the decor. Shelby had an oval plate with a large rectangular stack of what I guess was lasagna. It looked different than any lasagna I’d seen. Maybe, they had some extra fru-fru on top? I don’t know. She said it was okay, but she had never seen something in lasagna (beans? greens? something, it was just odd.) My veal was nicely cooked, but the sauce (or brown gravy, call it what you will) was sweet. Yeah, I know, marsala is sweet, but this sweet? Aren’t you supposed to burn off part of the alcohol or something? I don’t know. It was fine, but nothing to write home about. It was served with a plate of pasta and tomato sauce. This is what got me. I’ve been in Italian restaurants where whey serve you pasta on the side and this was no exception but … but … it seemed they had gone to the grocery store, found the box with the 1/4” pasta tubes and dumped half the box in boiling water then yanked the pasta sauce jar off the shelf next to the tubes and thrown a little of that on top. The pasta was overcooked, not very hot, and the sauce had no spice that I could discern. I mean, if you’re going to serve grocery store pasta sauce wouldn’t you at least try to class it up with oregano or thyme or Italian seasoning? Something to make it look or taste interesting? This was bland.
Shelby’s lasagna and especially the pasta was bland. She had been looking forward to really good pasta. I mean the lasagna came recommended. Then as I finished my veal, the appetizer came out. Great! It was very acidic. The beans were out of a can and hard. The calamari was okay to over cooked. WTF?
We had cannolis for dessert. The shells were slightly stale. The filling was grainy, like they hadn’t disoved something enough. WTF? – again.
Did we get a bad meal? We don’t think so. This seemed to be what they do. The question for us was, “What’s the appeal?” I mean, you’re willing to put up with obnoxious service, jostling crowds, and loud noise for a really good meal, but this? At best it was “Okay.” I give it a D+ or C-.
“Okay?”, “Yeah, okay. As in ‘just okay’ or ‘barely okay.’ “. “Hey, we got a saying around here – ‘If you don’t like the food, someone else will.’ “ (I made that saying up. Pretty good, huh?)
The Dancing with the Stars show was fabulous. They did a good job of rotating in dance numbers with video interviews and the performers talking on stage. I wish they had turned down the bass a bit so it didn’t distort and we could have understood the other half of what they were saying but – minor point.
Then we got home and watched Rachel. Politically, this will be a year like no other, and as Rachel pointed out, on the first working day of 2019 we were off to another – I’m not sure what to call it – year. The Defense Secretary is acting and a huge defense contractor, The AG is acting and a huge supporter of the president and not justice, the Interior Secretary resigned amid scandal (but wanted to stay on until the Christmas party) and is replaced by an oil lobbyist, the Chief of Staff is acting, in a position that is appointed and there’s no confirmation so it’s not really ‘acting’ it’s the job. By the way, he’s keeping his other two jobs: head of OMB and the Consumer Protection Bureau where he’s done a great job of reducing the budget of that group to zero, letting the payday loan lenders off the hook and telling money lending places it’s okay to screw over veterans and students – right on.
That’s just one day in Administration Trump. I mean, it’s okay, right? BTW I think I forgot a few, but hey you get the idea. (Oh yeah, the bizarre cabinet meeting where Trump pontificated the Russian talking points about why they invaded Afghanistan and why it was a good idea. History? Screw that, he’s got his own history.)
Then Rachel interviewed Elizabeth Warren who has officially thrown her hat in the ring. Talk about making a clear case. She has come right out and said that Trump and the current Republican party is for powerful corporations and the very rich. They, the very rich, have bought the government they want, and now it’s up to the rest of us to take it back.
She’s for affordable: health care, education, mortgages and other loans. Radical ideas? No, this is the way America used to be. Except health care, we’ve always gotten screwed on that one.
I like her. I hope she does well.
I also like Ms. Cortez. What I like about that lady is she is unafraid to say simple truths. Some are busy trying to brand her as a socialist and say that’s bad. But are the mid-western and western Senators from farm states opposed to grain subsidies? No. (Friggin’ socialists!) What does Cortez espouse? Reasonable outlays for the military, affordable education, a living wage, affordable health care, make the rich pay their fair share. If this is some form of radical socialism we meed more of it.
I’m hoping Warren, Pelosi, Sanders, Cortez and others will unite behind common sense goals such as what I’ve outlined and put America back on track for all of us. It’s time to decide.
Here’s hoping 2019 is better than okay.
864 Days to Go
PS I got my eye on you!