Monday, April 10, 2006

Poultry Sensation Evenings or: Fry Me To The Moon!

When the weekend rolls around on its welcome and lazy axis, it’s difficult to resist the siren song of the smorgasbord.

Particularly the giddy hymn to gluttony that constitutes the Shady Pines Smorgasbord and Farmers Market. Mentioned previously in these pages, the Shady Pines has a name that unfortunately makes it sound like it could be either a restaurant or a funeral home.

In fact, both are probably true.

You probably won’t believe this but I swear to you that on more than one occasion, we have driven up to the door to find an ambulance already there, regurgitating its crew of weary (and no doubt hungry) paramedics as they swiftly move to resuscitate another overly ambitious diner.

Such is the allure of their endless mountains of prepared meat loaf, macaroni, and mystery casseroles that the ordinary person can’t help but overrule that sensible inner voice that tells them that an indulgence such as this will surely shave some years off the back end. Like moths to a flame, they gather hungrily about the grill while muttering to anyone within earshot that “Life’s too short”…

They really do this. Usually by the bread bar.

Now it’s not that the wife and I are immune to these kinds of physiological concerns. As our golden years advance upon us, we take more care in selecting those foods and beverages that will provide something other than empty calories.

On the other hand, my friends, life is indeed too short.

However, like the holy estate of matrimony, a visit to Shady Pines is not something to be entered into lightly; there are considerations. What have we eaten this week? What are we planning on eating next week? If we promise not to eat anything for three days, wouldn’t a visit work out to about the same calorie count?

Most importantly, though, is what is on the grill.

That is to say, there are a number of items that change from week to week and there is, for example, no point in going if there’s not going to be any sausage. That’s a baseline thing, a dealbreaker. No sausage, no trip.

Then there are entrees of lesser importance like, say, the veal parmagiana. Now I’m willing to make the trip (assuming sausage has already been established) if there’s no veal parm, but the guarantee of its presence is pretty much a dealsealer. Close the blinds, gas up the car, and get the hell out of our way.

Don’t wait up, we’ll be coming home late tonight.

Other grill items, such as the pierogies and the salmon, are evergreens and can always be counted on to be there in copious supply.

They also have something called a “salad bar” which, as I understand it, contains no meat, but some people seem to enjoy it.

Well, the other day we were mulling over the pros and cons of visiting Shady Pines and rather than calling them for the day’s menu, we decided it’d be far more easy and efficient to look it up online.

Assigned with accomplishing this task, the wife disappeared into the computer room and stayed there for a good long time. There was no sound, just an occasional “hnn” as if in the throes of some private meditation.

“What’s going on in there?” I asked, finally.

“Oh my god,” she said, “you won’t believe the things we’ve missed.”

“Missed? Like what?”

“Come look at this.”

There on the monitor I saw the words: Poultry Sensation Evenings!

“Oh my,” I said.

Underneath the headline, the text read as follows:

Fresh and tender capon, succulent roast duck legs, goose, delicious smoked turkey, marinated turkey breast, chicken cheese steaks, fried chicken livers, marinated wings and stuffed chicken breast, stuffed Cornish hens, not to mention chicken stir fry and marinated chicken breast.

I could feel the eyes of the Chicken Little figure from the Disney film behind me burning holes into my back.

“My god, that’s unbelievable,” I mumbled. “How did we miss that?”

“That’s not all,” the wife said. “Look at this.”

She pointed with her finger at the words Pork Bonanza!

Beneath this I read:

Roast pork, Pig stomach, fresh and smoked sausage, stuffed pork chops, carved honey ham, Smoked pork chops, Marinated pork tenderloin, BBQ spare ribs, ham loaf, pork scrapple and Ham & Bean soup and last but not least Pork & Kraut.

They had outdone themselves. This gluttonous orgy of animal flesh was surely something of a pinnacle in the history of human consumption. I felt as if it would be just as important, if not more so, to witness it as it would be to participate in it.

I could tell my grandchildren that I was there.

“Dum da da dum, da da dum, da da Pork Bonanza!” the wife started to sing, using the melody of the well-known television program. Surely this was one Bonanza that the late Dan Blocker would have approved of.

How was it that there were any animals left? Were they now in some sort of Entree Protection Program?

Of course, they got the last laugh as those paramedics got ready to jump into the ambulance with every forkful.

I had a vision of a chicken spirit, not unlike that of Chicken Little, with his ectoplasmic wings around the gullet of some overly enthusiastic customer whose breathing between bites had suddenly become labored.

“How ya like me now?” the Chicken teased, his green spectacles gleaming in the artificial light of the grilling station.

It seemed like the long-delayed revenge of all those smiling animals in the ads who’d seemed deliriously pleased to be sautéed and fricasseed for our pleasure. They had risen in legion and were now taking it out on our overfed hides.

History had passed us by, however, and the wife and I would have to be satisfied with the usual groaning board. This was fine with me as I didn’t feel like teasing the fates any more than they’d been recently teased.

The last thing I needed was a small cartoon chicken aiming his tiny baseball bat at my kneecaps.


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