Breakfast at George's, and lunch by the pool

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Dan Haley

There are many things, most unappetizing, that I'd expect to find on the menu board at the local pool. And Sunday afternoon when my daughter and her pal were hungry, mid-swim, at Ridgeland Common we went to the concession stand. There were nachos with that gross cheese-like stuff. Disappeared quickly, I'll add, in its defense. There were Slurpee-style drinks which purported to have some connection to raspberries and strawberries. That the raspberry drink was bright blue was only my first clue that no fruit died to make this concoction.

Of course, there was candy, popcorn and, that strange staple of all summer concession stands, the huge pretzel. There were hot dogs and ice cream. All the things which defeat the entirely healthy goal of getting your kid off the couch in the air-conditioned living room and on the bike and over to the pool. On the other hand, I bought the junk food of my own free will. And I do not like to contemplate what shape a bowl of bright red apples would be in before a single kid took their chlorine-soaked hand and reached for an apple or any other food varietal which once knew dirt.

All of which made my surprise greater when my eyes drifted to the bottom of the menu board and discovered that the concession stand sold soup. One dollar for soup.

Who would ever buy soup at the pool? What kind of soup might they offer on hot, sticky days? Gazpacho? Cool and refreshing! Is there a big pot of gazpacho sitting in the cooler back behind the pizza warmer? Do the concession stand workers arrive early to mix up a batch of gazpacho, carefully selecting the ingredients?#34;whatever it is that you put in gazpacho? Is that how you even spell gazpacho?

Or do they sell those "soup in a cup" confections where you add water and pulverize the entire mess in the microwave before burning your tongue for good measure.

Whatever soup they sell, I'm not buying.

At the other end of the food-buying spectrum, took my dear wife out for dinner Sunday evening to a fine local establishment. And there transpired something that I find increasingly common when I eat out above the level of the famous George's restaurant downstairs from our offices. You look at the menu for awhile, chat with your partner about this or that item on the menu, close the menus and await the waiter. The waiter takes my wife's order and murmurs, "Oh, very good." I order the fish and get no such reassuring murmur. Has the fish gone bad in the back room? Or is he just trying to ingratiate himself with the better half?

On the other hand, he oohed and aahhed over my dessert selection?#34;ice cream with fresh berries?#34;while just jotting down my wife's choice. So perhaps he was an all-purpose ingratiator.

guess I'll be confessing that we ate no self-prepared, home-cooked meals on Sunday as we had breakfast out at the aforementioned George's. There are no gentle murmurings from the waitresses at George's, just back-slapping and joke-telling among the regulars, of which I am honored to be one. Never have I said to a George's waitress, "What looks good today?" That's because everything always looks the same there. Good and steady and predictable. Though there was once a lunch-time when my waitress steered me off the stuffed cantaloupe with a notable eye roll, which I appreciated.

Neighborhood grill dining, pool-side dining and fine dining. Altogether one fine day of Oak Park cuisine.

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