... I'm a food snob.
My earliest memories of a food variety are from the Mediterranean Basin. Maltese and Gozitan (of course), Italian, some Greek and a little of the western Iberian Peninsula.
One thing that all of these cultures had in common was that the diner never got up from the table hungry. The concept of an evening meal that lasted less than a couple of hours was a completely foreign concept to me until I got to England and the United States.
Well, that and serving a no-name house wine with your meals, but that's a rant for another time.
When I sit down at a table for a meal -- especially one that I'm paying for -- I want food on my plate, not two Brussels sprouts and a stalk of asparagus delicately balanced on a chunk of pork the size of a quarter and surrounded by a pattern of sauce which I'm fairly sure is actually the chef's signature.
Some months back, Herself and I were noodling about in a small town some ways south of home when we stumbled across a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place where the maître d' greeted us with a lilting Italian accent.
Not a Brooklyn accent, mind you, but one just off the boat from Tuscany.
Scarcely daring to hope -- I mean, seriously, it's a town of about 5,000 souls in North Texas -- we ordered food.
Oh. Mah. Gawd. About half-way through a glorious chicken piccata, I looked at Herself and opined, "Somebodies Nonna is chained to the stove back there."
Seeing our absolute rapture, the maître d' apologized profusely for not being able to serve wine with the meal (his utter bafflement at the concept of a "dry town" sent Herself into giggles), confided that the quality of bread had forced the restaurant to buy a five digit specialty bread oven, insisted that we try the house blend coffee with the tiramisu, and finally confessed that business had been good enough that they were opening a second eatery in a town that would allow them to serve wine.
A town that just happens to be about fifteen minutes from Rancho LawDog.
Now, the fact that I'm in an area of the country that thinks that Pizza Hut is great Italian food makes me a bit concerned that my taste-buds might have been deceiving me. That maybe my missing that sort of food makes me think that second-rate chow is magnificent merely because it's not from a chain restaurant, so last weekend the Atomic Nerds were staying over after PhlegmPhest and since they're foodies we decided to see if the food was as good to them as it was to us.
As we reluctantly left the restaurant, Stingray was plotting various methods to drag it back to the Nerd Ranch behind the Nerdmobile.
Good food. It pops up in the oddest locations, and often where you'd never expect to find it.