Category Archives: Good Food

A Year in Erie.

 

Tom Atkins is holding forth, on JET/FOX/ERIE, the latest weather forecast. Given tonight’s projections, our home town that time forgot might just jump into the national hot lights.

Seems we could break the all time record for 200 inches of the white stuff.

200 inches.

In one winter.

(Yes; around here, Punxsatawney Phil’s shadow notwithstanding, we will winter until the bitter end.)

Spring will arrive, according to the vernal equinox, sometime next week. But, Erie, PA is set to capture yet another snowfall, 8pm tonight through 8pm Wednesday night, 10 more inches that could blanket the already frosted landscape. Plus, another shot coming Thursday evening into Friday morning. It could happen.

But, take a moment.

Consider this.

Erie is known, already, for far more than snowfall in inches. And, the scope of its offerings could astonish you.

First of all, let’s look at the landscape.

Projecting out onto Lake Erie, one of the region’s most spacious state parks, the Presque Isle peninsula, boasts eleven public [public] beaches, complete with sunbathing, swimming, sailing, yachting, and skiing, as well as nature trail hiking, a family campground, bicycle path around the entire 13.4 miles, a nature center, lagoons for canoeing and paddleboating, the Oliver Hazard Perry Memorial, endless picnic groves and, nestled at its interior – a houseboat community!

Directly ahead of the entrance to the park, and careening overhead, the Ravine Flyer – a major rollercoaster – one of numerous amusement park rides, concessions, and arcade attractions at Waldameer Park.

And, the cherry on top? Sara’s, Erie’s 1950’s retro ice cream stop, featuring foot long Smith’s hotdogs with all the trimmings.

For evening, or other afternoon fare, try the Erie Seawolves, a pro baseball team at UPMC Park; a pro hockey team, the Erie Otters, and pro basketball, the Erie Bayhawks, at the Erie Insurance Arena; some 20! dance companies; more than one symphony; at least 5 (FIVE!) world class civic theatres; one of three of the original operational Warner Theatres; Jr’s Last Laugh, the comedy club; the fabulous Erie Art Museum (housing several thousand works in its collection); another several art galleries; Poet’s Hall; two Indy film societies; the Erie Zoo; LECOM – the largest Osteopathic medical school in the nation – and, 3 universities complete with their own collegiate offerings open to the public.

Hungry?  For every ethnic group ever populating this port city turned industrial turned vacation destination, there is a top notch dining experience. Latino’s, for authentic Mexico City fare; Cloud 9 Wine Bar; Mi Scuzi, Calao’s, and Serafini’s, only three of a multitude of Italian full course sit downs; Like My Thai, for the real Asian taste; Tandoori Hut, for Indian; and, Pineapple Eddie’s, for Caribbean. These are just a handful of remarkably high quality eateries literally too numerous to mention in one travelogue.

Thirsty? For wet: The Ale House. Jekyll & Hyde’s. The Plymouth. Two Public Houses. And, Brewerie, where a plethora of handcrafted beer holds court. Et al. For dry: The Juice Jar, or our Whole Foods Co-op. Et al, et al. ‘Nuff said?

But, here’s something else. The design layout of Erie is Philadelphia grid style. This means a geometry of symmetry. Anywhere you want to go, from the Polish/Russian/German/Irish/African American/Middle Eastern East side to the Italian/Puerto Rican/Mexican/Greek west, you can clock any trip within 10 minutes. And, easy access means increased options –  for a weekend packed with more events and encounters with friends and family than most metropolitans can manage in ten days.

In fact, actor Tom Hanks liked us so much, he made a movie here, “That Thing You Do”.

So, suppose you get displaced. Or, you just need to make that jump.

Do this thing. Spend one year in Erie. Erie, Pennsylvania. If, after 365 days, you don’t feel like settling into the plushest comfort of All [waterfront] American cities, you can go.

But, you’ll never know unless you come to town and find out.

We’ll be here, like we’ve been for over 200 years, still reinventing what’s always been the best thing about living. We’d love to have you.

And, a year means you’d still be around for the first snow.

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copyright 3/13/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  Share liberally. Thanks!!

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

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Aunt Margie.

AuntMargie2018

You would have done the same.

You were devoted. To your children, all seven of them.

To your Lord, and Saviour, through them.

Indomitably, you were undaunted. By anything.

From your own mother, you learned precepts informing the godly woman, and applied them with every breath.

But, you also knew the value of living in real time.

From you, I learned that cooking was a revered art. To this day, my refrigerator’s contents, jammed fully with cheeses and smelling cremes, everything aging by the day, all fall out when the door is opened. This, I learned from you.

Unlike you, I am never up with the sun, nor am I fully dressed by the time I take the kitchen, least of all in shoes with any heel. But, not a moment passes during the beating of an egg for baking, nor the carving of a roast, nor the stirring of any sauce, do I not think of my own grandmother or you. Fingers, after all, were for piano second, and for tasting first.

I also learned that bathrooms were designed to be used, not dressed for company, and laundry was best kept in piles of clean and dirty, in its own room, thank you. These were the standards of a mother who applied herself to the family, first, forsaking no cherished energy to the keeping up of appearances. Yours was a substantive role, and you immersed yourself totally. Forgiven, and at deep peace, you had no compulsion to scrub away any sins, past or present.

Thank you for making all the h’or doerves for my wedding reception. For slicing every cucumber, paper thin; for dressing the pate with them. For sculpting the ice. For doing all this, sight unseen, the reward in the eating.

Yes. Like my own mother, you would have done the same. Had I been born of you, I am certain that you, too, would have named me Ruth. Like Ruth, you followed your husband, whithersoever he went and all the way Home.

 

Margaret Smart Sidey    1928 – 2018

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© 2/7/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

 

 

Silver Bells.

“Social Intelligence and the Standard Bearer.”

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“The holidays” can put a person off.

As the season approaches, a certain set of expectations play across our culture. By some unspoken demand, one must be “festive”. This invariably translates as seeking out the company of others. In between massive bursts of expenditure, lunch dates are squeezed. The bravest among us host carefully planned and exhaustively prepared dinner parties. In the air, there’s that feeling of Christmas, and at the end of it all is the subconscious satisfaction of having met an effective standard; along with managing to get the gifts bought, wrapped, and delivered on time, there is the reward of having done it all right.

Just read, today, that those of very high intelligence prefer being alone.

In our family, it was always our older brother touted as the family genius; but, by golly gosh, he still commands an audience and I prefer my own company. Or, rather, after just a couple hours with people, I need to get the hell home.

Don’t read this wrong. People are fascinating. I love the energy of human exchange. I’ll be on the sidelines, watching and listening with keen interest. And, nobody dares call me aloof; the barber’s daughter, I know better than to look down on anyone.

But, what of social intelligence? Among all six recognized aptitudes (verbal; mathematical; spacial; physical; creative),  just how overvalued is this trait?

The life of the party is venerated, for an ability to both mobilize and inspire all in the company to open up, relax, and let it all hang together. Seems every social gathering can’t survive without one. And, why is that?

All are warned to steer clear of the “bore” – that one who tosses out a stimulating topic for discussion and then secures a solid conversation with another willing to listen and respond. Parties aren’t supposed to be about substance, after all; keeping things light maintains a more comfortable atmosphere, one which challenges no one to engage any form of critical thinking or divergent speculation lest any feel tested. Enjoying oneself at a social gathering is paramount, even if tantamount to total intellectual abdication. After all, nobody wants to be guilty of clearing the room.

When life was smaller, people all knew each other. Natural gifts – for music, or comedy – emerged of their own volition. The only collective expectation was that the food be tasty and plentiful, the beverages fine, and the location of the gathering within a moonlit walk of home.

The rest of the world was the place one went for a change of scene. And, this might constitute a few days’ drive from town, even including dinner out at a restaurant where the people looked, smelled, and served up food so removed from the usual that the whole experience offered plenty of follow up conversation for days thereafter.

But, beyond the monthly excursion, neighborhoods maintained intact homeostasis. Proximity was close, and familiar, and understood. The pool was smaller; all members were recognized; the power of influence-peddling was moot; and, anonymity was alien.

Now, life is enormous. Technology has made social access nearly total. People of every persuasion cross virtual paths, almost daily. Food, of every conceivable gastronomical device, is offered up anywhere a meal is within reach. But, proportionately, social expectation has become overtaking in its scope, and the quality of what used to be called “genuine” is fading.

Where does one go, anymore, to find a true standard for the authentic?

Have we become so practiced in the arts of persuasion, manipulation, and influence that our respect for the real thing is relegated to the attic find on Antiques Roadshow?

Perhaps our social collective can submit to regaining its willingness to acknowledge that which rings merely true. I think somebody said Jesus would have it so.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   12/19/16       All rights those of the author, a real person who taught herself to type, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your recognition. I, too, see you. Merry Christmas.

littlebarefeetblog.com