I had raisin toast with cottage cheese for breakfast this morning. Warm crispy raisin toast dripping with butter. Thick creamy cottage cheese. Mmmmmmm……
Growing up we would sometimes go to a diner by our house for dinner. Wednesday was my dad’s favorite day because they had home made split pea soup. I went for the fruit plate. The place was called Piper’s and it was your typical family diner owned by a Greek couple. Brown leather booths and early bird specials a smell of grease and rice pudding in the air. It was always packed with locals and senior citizens…lots of senior citizens. The type of place where soup came with your meal, you didn’t’ have to pay extra, and as you entered you were greeted by the tall display case filled with fresh cakes and pies.
Like I said, I always ordered the fruit plate. Now if you’ve ever eaten at a diner like this, which I’m sure you have because they are everywhere, you know the fruit is nothing to write home about. A few slices of pale cantaloupe partnered with the “green cantaloupe,” oranges sliced in that odd way, maybe a couple of choice strawberries, if you’re lucky sliced banana or grapes. No, I didn’t order the fruit plate for the fruit. I ordered it for the tasty corners of raisin toast and the glorious scoop of large curd full-fat cottage cheese at the center. I tolerated the fruit. I lusted after that toast and cheese.
The only low point, my waterloo, was the soggy slice of iceberg lettuce that they always served the cottage cheese on. “What a waste!” I would think as I tried to scrape the last yummy morsels from it. I extracted the last of my precious cottage cheese like a surgeon. I often wanted to ask the waitress to just not put the lettuce there. How hard would it be to just scoop it onto the plate? But my parents wouldn’t let me. A life lesson perhaps? Or maybe they just liked to watch me squirm. Maybe they had a running bet as to when I would finally break and eat the lettuce. I don’t know, parents were meaner back then. It was probably a good thing.
Thinking back I now see why I get so excited when I treat myself to that tasty purple package of raisin bread. Maybe it’s about the food. Maybe it’s about the memory of my childhood, a place that I often visit in my dreams. Maybe it’s about small comforts. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s that I can finally eat my cottage cheese without that damn piece of lettuce messing it up. Maybe.