Before I talk about the visit, let me explain the dynamics and logistics of my family.
I am the middle child of 3, my father has a younger brother, and my mom an only child. My grandparents have long passed, and I have three first cousins that I have not talked to in years. There aren't many of us. We are basically an endangered species, a few nomadic French/Polish clans scattered about the eastern half of the US. I live in Cincinnati, my brother and sister in Madison, Wisc. and my folks in South Florida. My family is close, but not geographically. We are close, but we really are not the best communicators. I don't think we know each other as well as we should, but we think we know each other better than we should. Does that make sense?
We live across the country from each other, so we don't spend a whole lot of time together. It can get dicey sometimes when we are couped up in the same four walls, but since we are relatively mature. We manage without too much blood loss. When I got out of college, I moved home and started work. I'd never spent a holiday away from my family, nor much time away for that matter. In the span of a few years, I was seeing my folks, brother and sister once or twice a year, and it would be that way for the next 20. Factor in my folks retiring to Florida, and getting us all in the same room takes damn near a miracle (and with 3 kids, that's 5 or 6 weddings).
So shortly after arrival, I spy my oldest, and my father beginning to conspire about an outing that can only end in the meaningless slaughter of poor defenseless animals for the coveted "baby back ribs". I never thought about this, but this is an awful thing to call a dish. I had to Google just to make sure they didn't come from baby pigs. I'll admit, I've had these a thousand times, but never knew why they were called "baby". I'll bet I never gave it any thought. I generally did not like my food to resemble what it may have looked like in its former life. (They don't come from babies, and I'll blog about Japan another time). So the concept of "baby back ribs" now kinda grosses me out. I'll have to think about some of the things I've eaten. At any-rate, there they were, planning an outing to get meat, in my own house. I'll let this slide, as long as I don't have to see it.
So despite the long absences we have all had from each other, we managed to get along pretty well that week. I think my dad was concerned that we may go overboard on the veganization, so he was always suggesting going out to lunch, dinner whatever. He was after all the one that coined the term "blech" to describe the food I ate. Well despite that, we went out quite a bit, and managed to do fine. That was until the last night, and the dreaded dinner at The Montgomery Inn (I thought the pic of Montgomery Burns was more appropriate).
I tweeted about this in advance, seeking advice from "my vegans", even going so far as to posting the menu so people could look at and provide ordering advice. I had a variety of comments from "What an awful restaurant" to "Good luck with that", but for the mostpart, I got a lot of good suggestions about what I should do. I had little luck calling the restaurant, as they were not very accommodating to me over the phone. However, when we got there, they were very helpful. My first order of business was a very cold, very dirty martini. This is always the best start to any meal (vegan or not). Our waiter referred us to the "vegetarian" meal. I think they had one standby vegan/vegetarian dish, and we got it. Pasta, steamed veggies and a side of marinara. All in all not bad..... Now on the other side of the table, a complete and utter slaughter was taking place as my father, son, and daughter were up to their elbows in sauce and bones (Mom sat on our side and had fish). I say that, but in my previous life, BBQ was my all time favorite things. I'm not that put off by it in all honesty, but it is starting to freak me out a little. There may come a time soon where I'll just have to pass by this place and not even go in. As far as the social aspects, it is always fun to get us all together, and my dad has been picking up the check all week, so I wasn't about to complain.
So as quick as that, my folks were loading up their car and getting ready for the drive back to Naples. I worried about the trip, mostly surrounding the food, but it turned out well, with little issues. I think this was good for me, as it was the first time I really got to see some of my old favorites up close and personal, and I discovered I really had no interest in going back. That was a little breakthough for me.
And even quicker, the house returns to its original quite state,.. the big kids are back at their moms,... a PB&J is sounding pretty good right about now.