Going to Gaido’s


Over cocktails a few nights ago with a new friend, he asked me a question I’d never before considered: At what point did you realize that you were more “into” food than the average bear?

I had to stop and think about it for a moment. Back in high school, I was notorious among my friends for always dragging them to the latest hole-in-the-wall I’d found or force-feeding them sashimi back at a time when sushi wasn’t nearly as accessible or omnipresent as it is today. But finally it struck me: that moment, the one that my parents still tease me about to this day.

In elementary school, my class was planning a field trip to Galveston to visit the Elissa (typical Houston schoolkid journey, of course). And while the prospect of climbing all over the old ship was charming and all, my single-minded focus at 10 years old was where we were eating while we were down there. Surely we couldn’t drive all that way and not dine at some of the island’s best restaurants!

The first stop had to be Gaido’s. I planned it all out in my head as my parents and I drove in our Suburban to the grocery store one day. Gaido’s for bisque and then perhaps Shrimp ‘n’ Stuff for fried oysters and then definitely a stop at the Peanut Butter Warehouse for fudge afterward.

Apparently, I’d gotten a very dreamy look on my face while contemplating this Galveston food crawl and had gone uncharacteristically quiet.

“What are you thinking about back there?” my mother asked.

“Our field trip to Galveston,” I answered.

“Oh yeah? Are you excited?” she asked her little fifth grader, surely imagining that I was looking forward to making sandcastles or playing with seagulls on the beach.

“I wonder if we’ll go to Gaido’s…” I mused back.

My parents simultaneously burst into laughter.

“Why would you go to Gaido’s?” my mother asked after she composed herself.

“Why not?!” I was indignant. Why was this so funny?

The laughter and the befuddlement was a reaction I’d get used to over years and years of suggesting dining destinations or asking to go to restaurants that were completely bizarre in whatever the given set of circumstances were at the time. (“You want to go eat at a place on the Ship Channel for prom?!” “You want to get Ethiopian food? I was hoping we could just go to IHOP.”)

Of course, no one was going to take a bus full of 10-year-olds to Gaido’s, but that hadn’t stopped me from dreaming it was possible. I imagined all of us sitting in that plush dining room overlooking the sea, daintily enjoying cups of lobster bisque and my teachers thanking me for the marvelous suggestion as my classmates patted their mouths with cloth napkins and remarked on how much they’d enjoyed the food. I was always a dreamer.

That, I told my friend, was the point at which I realized that my interest in food was perhaps more excessive than the average person.

But what about you? What was your moment of realization?

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9 responses to “Going to Gaido’s

  1. Mine was when, after graduating from college and living single in the Galleria area, I’d be the one all my friends would call when they came into town..’where can I find this type of food?’, ‘what’s romantic?’, ‘what’s a fun place?’…I still, with 3 kids, manage to get out to nice/fun places more than most parents I know (and I still get asked for recommendations from friends). It’s still important to me – my husband and I had so much fun exploring Houston food when we first me, and we use our date nights for that purpose, still!

  2. Not to ruin my next blog post where I talk about this in more depth, but I was about the same age you were. I took 2 friends from Sugar Land with me to Anthony’s to celebrate my 10th birthday. Wearing church clothes to eat food you’d never heard of? Not something the cool kids did. Oh well, at least I got my tiramisu.

  3. My realization that there was a difference between my friends and me was on my first trip to New Orleans with my parents in 1957 when I stood at the oyster bar at Acme Oyster Bar, per my dad’s instructions/orders and ate (and loved) my first oyster on the half shell, regardless of what the thing looked like. I was not allowed to not like ANY food, as a child, and it eventually became a lifestyle.

  4. Well, I “invented” the recipe for Log Cabin syrup when I was a toddler: one cup logs, one cup syrup. My parents still tease me about that. And I remember one of my favorite toys as a child was the miniature copper-bottomed Revereware pan that looked just like the one my parents used. The best part? It was fully functional, and I had a tiny recipe for vegetable soup that I could cook in it.

    As for feeling different from my friends, I seem to have managed to surround myself with food-loving people my whole life. I can’t remember a time I didn’t cook with my friends, all the way back to when we needed my Mom’s help to bake cookies.

  5. I am embarrassed to report that I tried to make Coca Cola using Worcestershire sauce when I was 8 years old. The rest is history. ;)

    Seriously, so glad you got into food and into food writing and very much looking forward to what is already a smashing career of food writing from you! :)

    Chapeau bas, She Eats!

  6. For me it was in college when I become vegetarian for a few years. Being vegetarian pushed me to look for more recipes than mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Once bitten by the bug, I never went back. I am no longer vegetarian, but thankful for what those years brought me.Culinary Institute LeNotre

  7. I can’t believe I missed this post!!! I remember that day so well and how crestfallen you were that we laughed at you! Bless your heart! Dreaming of lobster bisque at Gaido’s in fifth grade! You’re awesome!!!

  8. Your relatives use too many exclamation marks.

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