Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homes away from Home: Favorite Restaurants

Alison of SpinDyeKnit (and author of a fabulous book called 'Wrapped in Comfort') blogged in part today about favorite restaurants in foreign cities. ('foreign' in this case meaning not 'home', not necessarily outside the U.S.)
As often happens, her blog sparked memories of my own.
I realized that everywhere I've lived, I have had one or two (or more) favorite eateries. When I ate there, it was like I created my own connection of 'home' to the place. Familiar space, familiar food, familiar faces. I imagine now those connections were a large part of balancing my life. My love of adventure balanced by some kind of connection to place, albeit far from Michigan.

In Tokyo, it was a yaki tori stand just outside the exit from the train station, and a small shop that sold steamed buns from a warmly-lit box on the counter.
In Kofu, it was a Japanese-owned Italian restaurant that served the best white clam sauce I have ever had.
In Nara, I loved to get the smoky whole sweet potatoes served off the carts in the park in winter, and the sushi rolls served in the same location in summer. Across from the school, there was a pub owned by a former British footballer, that had lovely ploughman's . Also near the school was a second floor family restaurant that had great breakfasts (an omelet stuffed with tomato-flavored rice and chicken comes to mind)
Near my apartment was the Boulangerie that provided delicious bagettes, perfect for filling with brie and butter and taking on all-day hikes.
After a long evening of teaching, I loved to visit the little mom and pop place around the corner that was set up to let you create your very own okonomiyaki at your diner-style booth.

And that's just Japan! When I look back, I followed the same pattern where ever I've lived.

Woodland, California: The little storefront that sold slow-roasted pork sandwiches on hand-made yeasty bread, with mayonnaise and pickled jalapenos. It also had the best chicken soup I've ever tasted.

Indianapolis, Indiana: The Thai restaurant that had a beautiful lush buffet, and the best Tom Kha Gai.

Even going as far back as my college days at Michigan State University, I still remember the Kung Pao chicken delivered by The Great Wall Chinese restaurant right to my dorm room. I've not had any better in all these years.

Wow. Now that I've lived here in Ypsilanti for so many years in a row (12 years, a new record for me) it's no wonder I have so many home-connections to restaurants around here. Hmm.. it's been too long since visited Dalat's, come to think of it.


AlisonH said...

Mine weren't foreign, just exotic. Like the cheap picnic tables in one that had been sanded down to the texture of soft velvet. And they trusted us with our barbecue sauce on those!

Lynx said...

Don't forget the ice cream shop on Calhoun Street in Battle Creek, and BC Burgers. Ice cream place is history now, but BC is still kicking out the best burgers outside Shane's kitchen!