Everybody has a restaurant or two, or ten--if you happen to live in a big city, where you like to order in for delivery or take out. I practically grew up on these kinds of meals. Aunt Marie got home late and didn't love to cook, so she either picked something up or we had something delivered 3-5 times a week. In my new neighborhood it's more of a pick-up area. There are a few places that deliver but it takes a long time and the food is barely warm by the time it gets here, so Alex prefers to pick it up. After swimming today Amaya and I went out to lunch. I wanted to take her to a Japanese restaurant that I've been wanting to try but it didn't open until noon. She was starving when class ended at eleven so I let her pick the place. She chose our favorite Chinese take-out restaurant.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it was empty. While there was a steady of stream of customers picking up food to go, the man at the front couldn't quite conceal his surprise that we wanted to eat our lunch on premise. It's an actual restaurant with tables and booths. They do a reasonable business in the evenings, but clearly Saturday afternoon is not peak time for table service. The food was undeniably better fresh from the kitchen. The portions were larger and everything was nicely cooked and very tasty. Unfortunately I was quite unable to ignore the food on the wall beside our booth and the less than squeaky clean table. The menu was gritty with salt or sugar. Amaya stuck her head underneath the table and was shocked to report that there were wads of chewed bubble gum stuck underneath the top. But she was quickly distracted by the music and the conversation. Thankfully she remained mostly oblivious to my discomfort.
It was a bit of a lesson for me. I often tease Alex about his fastidiousness. Gone are the days when he would happily eat tongue tacos or fried clams at some hole in the wall joint. Sanitation has become a major priority as the years have gone by and I can can understand that, while still lamenting our more adventurous culinary forays. But as I sat there determinedly ignoring the bits of food liberally speckling the wall beside me, I thought that maybe there was something to be said for not eating in at your favorite take out restaurants.