I did not actually lick the plate clean when we went to the fancy restaurant in Providence on Saturday for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary, but what I did do wasn’t much better.
There are 10 of us in my mom’s immediate family: she has a sister, they each have two girls, plus spouses and my grandparents. Despite living within 20 minutes of each other, we don’t really get together a whole lot because of sports and work and such, let alone at a fancy restaurant. But a 50-year anniversary is a pretty big deal, so we decided to treat my grandparents and have a nice dinner.
Aside from this new stupid dairy thing, I eat most things, so finding something “fancy” to eat isn’t a problem. I’m not like some of my other cousins, who until adulthood only ordered cheeseburgers regardless of the venue, or my sister, who is roughly half Italian and somehow doesn’t eat tomato sauce. Instead, my mom had to have the money talk with me, the “everything is expensive, pick what you are going to eat and don’t worry about it” talk that I dread.
I’m a broke college grad. I should be happy that I can order a $20+ entree without punishment, right? Nope. Other people have Catholic guilt. I have student debt guilt. I hate myself the rest of the week if I forget to pack myself 2 meals on Tuesdays for double practice and have to get Moe’s for lunch. I’ve had internal fights over whether I can justify buying a snack from the reduced bakery rack at the food co-op. And missing out on Free Cone Day yesterday was a major bummer because instead of getting free sorbet, I went to Stop and Shop and bought like five other things in addition to the Italian ice I bought since it’s way cheaper than sorbet.
(notice how all these examples were food related. I won’t even go into what happens when I have to buy non-food things.)
The dairy thing limited me mostly to seafood dishes, which is fine because I like seafood, but that bumped me up into the $25-30 range. Fortunately the dish I ended up getting was a special that night, and the waitress never said how much it was, so as far as I’m concerned my meal was free.
Instead of getting spaghetti with clam sauce or this shrimp thing with squid ink pasta, I went with a pan-seared duck breast with a balsamic blueberry glaze, lemon fingerling potatoes and arugula. I’ve only had duck once and it was in the form of duck nuggets (saying it still makes me laugh four years later), so I was in for a treat. The duck skin and potatoes were nice and crunchy, the meat was tender, and the sauce not only cut the bitterness of the arugula but ended up serving as my dessert as well. It also allowed me to justify being an adult and ordering a blueberry vodka lemonade.
It was an Italian restaurant, so even though I should have known better than to look at the dessert menu for something I could eat, I did anyway. My sister looked at me funny when I passed up the chance for dessert until I read down the list for her. Mascarpone, that’s cheese. Milk chocolate. Mascarpone. Chocolate cake, usually has butter. Bread pudding, usually has milk. Cannoli, cheese inside. Custard, cream. Mascarpone again. So I took the leftover bread that the adults were responsible enough not to eat two baskets of unlike us young’uns and used it to soak up every last dribble of that balsamic blueberry sauce. The bus boy came over to take our plates and I felt like Gollum hoarding the Ring because I wasn’t done with the sauce (or *ahem* the rest of the bread.)
My mom and sister brought home leftovers. I did not. I have no shame.
Now that we’re caught up on that, here’s Tuesday and today’s episodes of what I can and can’t eat:
- Yesterday: eggs and English muffin with jelly, pork chop and green beans, pulled pork and mixed veggies, crunchy Clif bar (like the Nature Valley ones), Fig Newtons, applesauce probably, obligatory Oreo
- No-gos: I GOT RID OF THE DONUTS YAY. My grandparents came to swap out my EZPass and I gave them the donuts. Also Ben & Jerry’s, but I checked to see what they had for sorbet before I even left, and then it was moot because the line was too long.
- Today: eggs, chili wannabe with Tostitos, a Pop Tart, venison mushroom stuff and potatoes, applesauce, raisins and honey-roasted peanuts
- No-gos: Nothing specific, though I usually get hungry on my late shift and was tempted to hit the reduced bakery rack at the co-op but decided to be responsible.