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Thoughts Like Music
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Food Friday: Peter's 
22nd-Feb-2008 09:35 am
One of the highlights of our trip to the US was a stop in the area where I grew up.

I grew up in Eastern North Carolina in a very poor, rural area. It hasn't changed much since I was little. In fact, with the closing of the textile mill in town, I'm not sure how they're still making it.

We rang my godparents to tell them we'd be in town for supper and wanted to take them out.

My godfather out did himself: not only did he call ahead for reservations for us, but he also convinced the head chef to come back into town to cook for us personally.

The head cook, Peter, is someone I've known since I was about 6 or 7 years old. Unfortunately, I'd not been back to Eastern NC for 15 years and I was afraid he wouldn't remember me.

He did, and it was good to catch up.

Our association with Peter and his family goes back to a chance encounter in Chapel Hill.

My grandmother was in the area and wanted Chinese. She picked a place, seemingly at random, called Hunam Chinese. Whenever we were in 'the big city' we always had some sort of ethnic food.
The reason for this custom was that Roanoke Rapids, the nearest town to us, was not known for its cuisine choices in the 80s. The best one could hope for was a salad at a steakhouse, if one were vegetarian.

My grandmother raved about Hunam and we made it one of our regular spots on trips.

We were absolutely ecstatic when we discovered that the owner of Hunam was sending his son-in-law, Peter, to open a restaurant in Roanoke Rapids.

Even though it was a ~30 minute drive from our house (yes, we lived in the country!) into town, we made a point of eating at the new restaurant as often as possible.

In a town where so many were satisfied simply to continue going to the steakhouse and only wanted sweet and sour pork when at a Chinese place, we were a big exception.

Peter created dishes especially for us and would often send out his most recent idea as a complimentary addition to our meals.

During the summers, his kids came out and swam with us at the lake. I remember that his oldest son was scared of the fish that we used to feed in the lake. I also remember that Peter wanted to cook our prize pet carp. :)

I was definitely not disappointed with the food that Peter cooked for us that night in January. There was Singapore Noodles, Crispy Tofu with Red Garlic Sauce, Vegetable Delight, Velvet Tofu, Garlic Green Beans, and a dish I'd not had before, Ginger Broccoli.

I ate until I simply couldn't put another bite in my mouth. I'd remembered the food nostalgically, but it was as good, if not better, than I remember. I wish I could apprentice to that man.

Any restaurants that you remember nostalgically?

Waiting expectantly for food.

Isn't my husband lovely? :)

I know this will have golfbisquit drooling!

I'm pretty sure that red sauce has crack in it, because it could make anything taste brilliant.

Peter speaking to ybunny and my godfather, Wayne.
22nd-Feb-2008 10:51 am (UTC)
Aw, you're all so sweet and cuddly looking! The food looks amazing as well!
22nd-Feb-2008 10:52 am (UTC)
Yes, yes there is one. And funnily enough it was in America.

We went on a big family trip to Massechusets (sp?) when I was 6 (the summer before my little brother was born). I don't really remember why, there was a reason. Anyway, we went all over the place but our favorite place was Cape Cod. There was a restaurant there called Angelos where we ate every night. I remember I liked the chicken in a basket :-) It was also my first memory of seafood; clam chowder, prawns, and lobsters that my grandad would pick out of the tank before having them cooked.

It's 28 years ago, but I remember that holiday and especially that restaurant like it was yesterday.

A big novelty of that trip was eating breakfast out. You never did that in the UK in the 1980s. Blueberry pancakes at the diner next to the hotel sitting on high stools at a diner counter. Fabulous!
22nd-Feb-2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
LOL, crack sauce.

During college, I spent a lot of time with friends in Syracuse, NY. We ordered Papa John's pizza more than I care to recall, and that's what we called the garlic butter sauce... crack sauce. Nostalgia.

Food is an integral part of my memories. There's an old Silk City diner in my hometown and I remember fondly the days where I'd sit on a stool at the countertop and have a cinnamon donut and "real" hot chocolate (ie. not Swiss Miss from a packet). I remember very well getting pancakes at a little cafe called the Kopper Kettle, which has been gone for years now. There's also a pub called Foster's near my parents house which has been open for over 40 years, and I must have gone there for every single little event of my life - preschool graduation, you name it. I remember scooping popcorn from the popcorn machine in their lobby, and reading business cards that were stuck in their corkboard walls.

I also have good memories of the Ninety Nine, which is a chain throughout New England, from when I was a bit older. They've expanded in recent years and there's one very close to my hometown as well as to where I live now, but they used to be much smaller so it was always a special treat to get steak tips there when we visited Boston.

(Deleted comment)
22nd-Feb-2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
Bridgeman's on Como Ave. in St. Paul, MN. With a large family and limited budget, eating out was a pretty special occasion when I was a kid. I got to go there with my grandma for fancy hot chocolate or turtle sundaes every once in a while. Bridgeman's was also the site of birthday-breakfasts with Dad when we lived in St. Paul (still one of my favorite traditions).
22nd-Feb-2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
From my long-past childhood, Gary's in China Grove was always the treat when we went to visit grandmomma in Kannapolis -- best barbecue ever.

In more recent terms, there's a little Chinese place on Rt. 3 just west of Fredericksburg VA called Beijing -- we know the owner and all the staff on a first-name basis, and they grill my parents about me when I'm up in Boston. The food is good, but the people are just wonderful.
23rd-Feb-2008 12:11 am (UTC)
i am SO hungry now :D
23rd-Feb-2008 02:43 am (UTC)
I hate you, personally.

Want. Peter's. Now.

Did you go to the old restaurant or the new one?
23rd-Feb-2008 10:55 am (UTC)
Pretty much any half way decent meal out becomes a Nostalgia Eatery: Jai Thai in Freemont, Seattle, this little pizza place right outside Zion National Park, Yangtze River in Aberdeen, so many others...
23rd-Feb-2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
Nostalgic restaurants: mostly from my time in Oxford, which is when I ate out most frequently.

The Gourmet Pizza Company, where they would bring J a bottle of ketchup as soon as he walked in the door (and the pizza was pretty good, too).

The Mongolian Wok (sort of like a buffet, only you chose the raw ingredients and watched the chef stir-fry them)

Charley's Horse (Mexican. I mostly remember going there with my dad at the beginnings and ends of terms).
23rd-Feb-2008 10:59 pm (UTC) - Pete's Plaice
My favourite place at Uni was a fish and chip shop in Southampton that served the best chips and donner kebabs. You could get a greasy pile of chips for 80p when I was in university there, and it could feed two people. The kebabs came in three sizes, and they had the best hot sauce there for them. Delicious. If I ever make it back to Soton, I will have to visit it if it still exists.
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