This was for lunch at a hotel in Lisbon in 1967. I was on a six-week group tour of 11 European countries, during which I wrote a series of articles for the Dayton Journal Herald.
It was a great trip for eating — in Amsterdam, small, fluffy Dutch pancakes, called poffertjes, topped with powdered sugar and melting butter; roast duck in an English village; bread pudding in London; fondue and chocolate cake in Lucerne; escargot in Paris; wiener schnitzel in Vienna, waffles in Brussels.
After that trip in ’67 — my last year of bachelorhood — I became pretty much a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy: top sirloin or a filet cooked medium rare, with a baked potato and either peas or corn on the side. And my wife learned how to make my mother’s brisket and latkes. Nothing fancy; just delicious.
When it came to pork, I favored barbecued baby back ribs slathered lightly in a great sauce.
Fish? Nah, except for a few places that served your basic fish and chips. Salmon? Hardly ever ate it. Tilapia? Never heard of it?
About 25 years ago, my eating habits began to change. Out of a health necessity, or simply acquiring a taste, or, more likely, a combination of the two, I started eating fish and vegetables I once abhorred: string beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus.
But on a recent trip to Charleston, S.C., where food is embedded in the city’s soul, I couldn’t acquire a taste for collard greens. They came with the fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the Glass Onion, a place featured on the TV show, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."
That was a lives-to-eat night for me. The fried chicken is served only on Tuesday nights, and you have to pre-order it by 3 p.m. Monday with a credit card. If you don’t show up, you still pay. The chicken is seasoned and soaked in buttermilk over night before being fried. Awesome.