If there’s anything Dad likes more than computers, it’s food. And not just any kind of food… well, actually no, that’s not entirely true. Charlie will eat anything you put in front of him. In fact, I remember distinctly a time when I was dishing out ice cream after dinner and when my sister, Leigh, complained about the brand or flavor, the following short dialogue ensued:
Me: “I scooped the same kind of ice cream for Dad and Dad isn’t complaining.”
Leigh: “Dad wanted to eat the scoop of ice cream that fell on the carpet.”
Me: “Touché, Leigh, touché.”
So, needless to say, Charlie is not exactly a picky eater, but he is a tough critic. If he likes something, he becomes overly animated about it. Sometimes he’ll even request it the next day and momentarily sulk if there are no leftovers. And what happens if Dad doesn’t like his food? Well, because he grew up in the generation of “Clean Your Plate!” (as did I by proxy) he’ll still eat it, but with the face of a 10-year-old being forced to eat his broccoli and brussels sprouts.
Over the summer, I’ve been trying to get Charlie to eat healthier.
- Sodium-filled TV dinners are replaced by fish and organic, free range meats and eggs.
- Greasy potato chips as a snack, substituted with apple sauce and carrot sticks with hummus dip.
- Sugary, frosting-covered donut desserts tossed out in favor of fruit smoothies with flax seed and pro biotic yogurt (the ingredients of which I have to repeatedly explain before he’ll agree to drink it).
This is a man who, when left to his own devices, nukes an entire package of bacon (sans plastic) in the microwave until it’s black and eats it all in one sitting. He needs help.
I’ve tried to explain that he must take better care of himself. His blood pressure is through the roof, he’s already had a couple heart attacks AND a quadruple bypass. Instead of eating the shite he chooses to eat on his own, he might as well have doctors shove a scoop of lard and a dozen maple bars into his arteries and get it over with!
Nevertheless, despite my best efforts, protests, and fruit smoothies to the contrary, Charlie still has his preferences and a routine to maintain. If I or my sisters aren’t cooking or it happens to be the day of the week Dad has penciled in a specific meal, there are five places he’s willing to patronizing (the consumer-type of patronizing rather than the condescending-type he’s more prone to).
Charlie’s Top 5 Best Restaurants
#5 – Outback Steakhouse
As mentioned in Charlie’s Top 5 Favorite Movies, it’s not possible to enter this Australian themed eatery without Dad making nonstop references to Crocodile Dundee. Their over-sized steak and butter knives always lead to his favorite movie quote, “That’s not a knife… That’s a knife!” and, after reading aloud and pointing out everything even semi-Dundee related in the place, he’ll typically finish his meal in silence before making a final reference as we make our exit. He just can’t help himself.
This all you can eat restaurant is a rare treat for Charlie, mostly because it’s a tad expensive these days ($8.25 for lunch, $12.25 for dinner, circa August 2010). Plus Denny’s is so much closer, why bother?
If you ask me, it’s worth the drive because you can eat as much as you like and the food is AWESOME, but I digress.
Due to laziness or just plain ole stubbornness, Dad will pretend he doesn’t like going to Chang’s whenever it’s suggested as a meal destination. However, when he does go he’s the first one itching to jump out of his seat for a second helping. Dad going for seconds on anything is a BIG DEAL, by the way, which means Chang has to be the friggin’ man!
#3 – Ivar’s
Every Friday, even if it’s not during lent – or if he forgot to go on Friday so he MUST go on Sunday (his logic, not mine) – Charlie LOVES the fish and chips combo from Ivar’s, home to Seattle’s Best Seafood and Chowder (if you’ve never had Ivar’s clam chowder, you have not lived). Dad always orders a basket of cod, fat (and fatty) chips (i.e. fries), coleslaw, and a cup of scalding hot, black coffee. The beverage choice never changes, not even in 90 degree weather. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
I hate McDonald’s with a passion. Between poor food quality and its enabling of a convenience-based American society, they are – for me – the devil between two toasted sesame seed buns. The fact that they stopped deep frying the apple pies in the U.S. alone is cause for a full-on boycott!
As an aside, according to the U.S. Baked verses European Fried nutritional values information, did you know that the Baked Apple Pie has the same amount of fat, but more calories and sugar than the old fashion, deep fried option? Bastards.
[Update: Apparently there are still some McDonald’s locations in the U.S. offering the deep fried apple pie! Check out my heroes at the website, In search of McDonald’s fried apple pie .]
Charlie, on the other hand, like clockwork goes to evening mass every Saturday and stops off for a Big Mac and fries on the way home. If he’s feeling especially adventurous, he may even go for a milk shake too, though he’s recently gone off them since I read him an article about how much fat, calories, and sugar are in the Triple Thick Shakes.
#1 – Denny’s
The highest possible praise you can get when making Charlie food is the comparison to a Denny’s Senior Special. But then why go for a home cooked meal when the real thing is just a short drive away! Sassy waitresses, cheap food, and the Country-Fried Steak with its golden-fried chopped beef steaks smothered in rich country gravy and served with your choice of two sides and dinner bread. Who could ask for anything more?
Stay tuned for Part II: Charlie’s Top 5 Worst Restaurants