L-u-b-y-s and J-e-l-l-o

Lisa Gray has a wonderful story today in the Chronicle on Luby’s and general Houston nostalgia:

Remembrance of Luby’s Past

If you’re a native Houstonian, you ate at Luby’s as a kid.  Most of us ate there after church on Sundays, after a recital at school, before seeing a movie at the four-plex cinema down the road or just as a special treat to get out of the house.

I loved, l-o-v-e-d, loved Luby’s when I was little.  Their macaroni and cheese and fried okra were the end all and be all of fine cuisine as far as I was concerned.  And, as Lisa points out, their green Jell-O was a favorite dessert:

But the Jell-O remains, in all its jiggly splendor. At the beginning of the serving line, just after you’ve collected your tray, you face opaque lime-green squares, consorting unrepentantly with leafier, more virtuous salads.

Looking at that Jell-O, you know exactly where you are.

Even to this day, when I’m sick or feeling down, I ask for those three items from Luby’s: mac and cheese, fried okra and green Jell-O.  Just ask my poor husband, who makes the trek out to their To-Go window.

There’s something massively comforting about Luby’s.  I don’t know if it’s the consistency of the food and the decor in their cavernous dining rooms, the sweet memories of childhood or the fact that you’re usually surrounded by cute little old ladies who look like your grandma, but Luby’s will never get old for me.  And I will never get too old for Luby’s.

After all, you have to love a restaurant which has lent the name of its most popular dish to a character on that pinnacle and paradigm of Texas culture: King of the Hill.


From Found in Mom’s Basement:


Aside from the general absurdity of the ad, check out where the “Rice Council of America” is located!  For those of you not interested in peering at the fine print, it’s Box 22802, Houston, Texas 77027.  Sweet.

Houston: Crazy Rice Pioneers of the 1960s.

…I wonder if they still distribute that intriguing-sounding “Rice Ideas Men Like” pamphlet…

Keep Me Clean

It’s about that time of the month again.  No, not THAT time of the month.  The other, more enjoyable time: the routine assessment of Google search terms!

This time, I want you guys to tell me what in the Sam Hill these people were doing when they Googled the following search terms.  Keep it funny.

signs of keep me clean in the kitchen

spicy lamb curry gets heart’s pounding

what does vivanno mean in slang italian

guinea pig not just for breakfast

homo milk

obama i am feeling lucky

trivia of holandaise

nobody likes me everybody hates onions

And a special bonus this time around!  See if you can guess which of these three highly-disturbing search terms was the most popular term of the month (all three were searched well over 100 times):

cat cora fhm

rachael ray maxim

rachael ray naked


A Side Order of Contempt

I can’t decide which is funnier: some of the ludicrous suggestions made for eating “smart when dining out” in this Reader’s Digest article:

Above all else, be assertive. Dining out is no time to be a meek consumer, notes Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and coauthor of the book Restaurant Confidential. “You need to be an assertive consumer by asking for changes on the menu,” he says. For instance, if an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with french fries, ask for a side of veggies instead. Ask for a smaller portion of the meat and a larger portion of the salad; for salad instead of coleslaw; baked potato instead of fried. “Just assume you can have the food prepared the way you want it,” says Dr. Jacobson. “Very often, the restaurant will cooperate.” Below, you’ll find more specific requests.

Try double appetizers. If there is a nice selection of seafood- and vegetable-based appetizers, consider skipping the entrée and having two appetizers for your meal. Often, that is more than enough food to fill you up.

Ask your waiter to “triple the vegetables, please.” Often a side of vegetables in a restaurant is really like garnish — a carrot and a forkful of squash. When ordering, ask for three or four times the normal serving of veggies, and offer to pay extra. “I’ve never been charged,” says dietitian Jeff Novick, R.D., director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Aventura, Florida. “And I’ve never been disappointed. I get full, not fat.”

Or the comments section on the article at Consumerist:

Not a great idea–most midrange restaurants, and chains, are not equipped for such customization. All you’ll do is annoy the kitchen.  And I don’t want to eat food prepared by annoyed people…

yea i was thinking this person must love eating spit 🙂

What afrix and Skankingmike said. The number one rule for healthy restaurant dining is “Don’t piss off the staff.” This guy’s first order of business seems to be to violate that rule.

assertive vs. polite maybe, but he said assertive. After working in the service industry assertive usually means being a dick.

How arrogant to go in and to assume you can change everything that is offered. Unless you have a food allergy there is no reason to do this. (and even then, you should explain why you need something left out of your dish. ) Order whats offered or find a place that suits your diet.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT EVERYTHING that’s on your plate. Who knew???

I just order stuff on the menu that looks good to me and that I want to eat. If there is something on the plate I don’t like then I don’t eat it. But then I grew up in a house where I was told that I could make myself a sandwich if I didn’t like what the family was eating.

Those of you who know me know how I am at restaurants…I eat what’s offered, never ask for substitutions and have never sent anything back in my life.  But I’ve also worked in the service industry and have many friends who currently work in the industry.  It ain’t easy, so why make the meal difficult for both of you?  Just relax and enjoy your meal is my philosophy, at least.

However, when I see a server being either lazy or incompetent for no good reason, that’s when the claws come out; if you aren’t in the weeds and we’re your only table for days, fill my damned iced tea and take my order within at least the first fifteen minutes of us being seated or prepare yourself for a shoddy 10% tip.

What do you think, readers?  Are you “assertive” at restaurants?  Does it net you good service (that you’re aware of, at least?)?  Or do you follow the “eat what’s on your plate or find a healthy restaurant” approach?  Is my 10% tip for crappy service policy too draconian or too lax?

Food for the Soul

Another Wednesday morning, caught in some dreadful cubicle somewhere, the day itself most likely fraught with rain and dreary skies if you’re here in Houston.  What better excuse for a food poem to cheer the soul?  And a food poem that celebrates rainy skies, at that?

Today’s poem comes from another modern poet who is still with us, Marie Ponsot.  Born and raised in New York City as the daughter of a wine merchant, she began writing poetry as a very young child and never stopped.  Like last week’s poet, she also studied and lived in France after World War Two.  She is also the author of two wonderful books on writing, Beat Not the Poor Desk and The Common Sense (not to be confused with Payne’s seminal work, of course).

Although she is 87 years old, she still teaches poetry and creative writing at the 92nd Street YMCA, should any you New Yorkers be interested in learning from a legend.

All Wet

Underwater, keeled in seas,
zinc the sacrificial anode gives
electrons up to save the sunk hull from salt.
The carving of salt water skirls out beaches
where each wave fall can push softly, a long curve in.
Rain widens the waterfall till the stream
slows, swells, winds up, and topples down
onto lilypads it presses forward on their stems.
Carp drowse among stems sunk in the park lake,
their flesh rich in heavy metals. Eat one and die.
A drip from the tap hits the metal sink
& splats into sunlight, cosmic,
a scatter of smaller drops.
One raindrop on a binocular lens,
and a spectrum haloes the far field.
Haloes dim the form they gild but
by its own edge each object celebrates
the remarkable world.
Personal computers make dry remarks, demanding:
Tea, wine, cups must leave the room.
We’re all the wine of something. His Dickens act,
her Wordsworth murmurs, expressed
juices still in ferment when their old children read.
Bones left after dinner simmer down into juices
to make a soup rich as respect or thrift.
As if making allowances
for the non-native limbs of swimmers,
water gives way as I spring into it.