Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Saturday evening Nancy suggested we go to a recently reopened restaurant fairly close to home. So, off we trundled. It was open when we got there after 6:00 P.M. which under previous management (some years ago) it would not have been open that late). People were leaving and people were seated. Those leaving looked like most folks leaving a restaurant, happy and distracted, another good sign. People came in after we were seated, still another good sign. When the waitress took our orders, there was not the proper bread for a French Dip, “Sorry we ran out Thursday.” The Swiss Cheese was real, not processed, but upon questioning it did not have holes—a sure sign of processing. However, we persevered and ordered without Swiss cheese on Nancy’s Burger and my French Dip.
While we were waiting for the cook to cook, discord broke out between the cook and waitress. Initiated by the cook who was criticizing the waitress for several things, I lost the details in the loudness. Hearing aids sometimes get a bit overwhelmed by volume and clanging of pots and pans. This continued until the waitress delivered our meals. Mine was first. It did have processed Swiss cheese on it, but since I was not going to eat the bread, in any event, it was easily scraped off the beef and onions. Nancy’s burger came nest and it too had processed Swiss cheese on it. Nancy liking a bun on either side of her burger sent it back. The cook again raised hell with the waitress for not writing property. Scraped the cheese off and sent it back asking the waitress to see if the customer would take it now. Nancy demurred. Well, that caused the waitress to incur more ire from the cook and while the volume diminished a bit, the remainder of dinner was not a comfortable experience.
I rather suspect the cook owns the place. I rather suspect the dream of running her own restaurant has not been all that positive. While the food was not bad, other than unwanted processed cheese, it was not all that great either. We have found that restaurants in this part of the world are at best sketchy on food quality of preparation and ingredients. If the cook does own the place someone fooled her into thinking she is a good cook. Funny, if she smiled and didn’t loudly express displeasure to the waitress so everyone in the place could experience her ‘unhappiness,’ the food might taste better (processed cheese or no processed cheese).
At least we know where not to go for dinner when you come in June.
I trust this finds you in good health, good spirits and frequenting diners with friendly cooks.
Warmest Regards, Ed
006 Chicken, Andouille, and Oyster Gumbo
Fiction in 1061 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Wearing a dress with a high collar, cinched at the waist with a very uncomfortable corset, full sleeves and the hemline at floor level, Edith Gunderson looked somewhat puritanical with her white lace bonnet and absence of makeup. The severity of her dark blue dress was only slightly offset by red lace trimmed color, similarly colored flat pumps that peeked out when she walked and the purse tucked under her arm trimmed in the same red lace. Squirming a bit, she had Millie loosen the corset, “I don’t need my internal organs squished by my rib cage, I am too old for that kind of nonsense.”
“Hold still, or the laces will be uneven,” chided Millie. “If they are not even you will pop out of this thing in places and I’d care not to think where those places might land, front or back.” With one small tug on the hook securing the lace Millie said, “That is as loose as a decent woman would want where you are going.”
“How do you know anything about where I am going,” asked Edith Gunderson.
“I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras when I was in college,” replied Millie. “It is hot and humid there. Pray they have air conditioning in the restaurant you are going to with this costume. Or you will melt.”
Edith shook her head and thought ‘Millie is a great help, but she does not understand life in the 1840s.’ then out loud, “Yes, thank you, Millie, I never could have gotten into this getup without you pushing and pulling on the laces.”
“I don’t understand where you found a costume affair this time of year,” said Millie shaking her head.
Edith simply said, “the Judge knows someone. I really can’t say how this came about.”
Millie said, “Speaking of the Judge, isn’t he due about now?” Millie’s answer came in the form of a gentle knock on the door. She added, “Speak of the devil.”
Opening the door, Edith found Judge Douglas Henderson wearing a knee-length frock coat, coral shirt with an oversized bow tie. His white trousers disappeared into calf length black boots. He held a silk top hat in his hand. “Ah a vision of loveliness,” he said, bowing and swinging his hand holding the hat in front of him.”
Edith couldn’t help herself, she giggled.
“Land O’Goshen,” Millie said.
Turning the Judge indicated the man standing behind him dressed in livery. The man was well muscled and well over 6 feet tall. “This is our chaperon, transporter and bodyguard, Franklin Meier.” Indicating Edith Gunderson with his hand, “Franklin this is Ms. Edith Gunderson.”
“My, my,” said Edith, “Aren’t you the handsome one.”
Franklin blushed and replied, “Thank you, Mam. We find that if I wear this and accompany a dandy and swell lady they are more readily accepted in the time period to which we are going. Slaves in the background are good cover.”
“Yes, there is that,” said Edith. “Don’t you find it demeaning?”
“I suspect I would if I were from your time segment,’ replied Franklin. “It is much further in my past. Besides, I thought up the cover after a couple of close calls on reconnaissance visits to the era.”
Millie looked confused and Edith put her hand over her mouth. The Judge, said, “It is perfectly safe, I did some reconnaissance of my own.”
Franklin said, “Our entry will be into an enclosed carriage on Royal Street. After we enter the carriage, the driver will take us to the pension on St. Louis. After dinner, we leave the same way, we get back into into a cab and pivot when no one is looking.”
Edith said, “Got it. Why do you call it a pension?”
“Because that is what Antoine’s started as, a boarding house and restaurant,” replied Franklin.
“I didn’t know it was Antoine’s,” said Edith. “Wait, I almost forgot.” She went to her desk and picked up an envelope. She walked back and handed the envelope to the Judge. “A couple of detectives upstairs, you know one, Eddie Philipson, want Special Agent Fleishman to pay them a visit. Could you see he gets this?”
Judge Henderson opened his frock coat and put the envelope in an inside pocket and said, “Of course.” Slightly moving his bent arm out from the side of his body he added, “Shall we go”
“That’s my cue to Skidoo,” said Millie running from the room and slamming the door behind her.
Judge Henderson raised his eyebrow and Franklin Meier tilted his head with a puzzled expression.
“People vanishing in front of her gives her the heebie-jeebies,” said Edith.
Franklin Meier chuckled and they vanished only to appear inside of a cramped carriage in rather oppressive humidity and heat. The carriage jerked forward after they heard a muffled voice say “Gee ha.” After less than three minutes and two turns, they heard the muffled voice say “Whoa.” The carriage stopped.
Franklin Meier jumped out of the street side and ran around to open the carriage door. As Edith Gunderson and Judge Henderson stepped down from the carriage, Franklin said, “We still haven’t worked out the part where I ride holding on to the back of the carriage.” He smiled.
Stepping carefully along two boards to reach the steps and avoid twisting ankles on the cobblestones, Edith and the Judge reached the door only to have it opened by another tall man dressed in a livery with a trim of a different color from Franklin’s. The man nodded to Franklin and addressed the Judge. “EVENING sir. Welcome to Antoine Alciatore’s pension.” The man bent at the waist again and said, “A party is just leaving. The Table will be ready shortly.”
As Edith entered the dining room her eyes were drawn up to the chandelier whose candles were surrounded by crystals magnifying the light. The slight breeze from the circular ceiling fans, pumped by two men dresses as the doorman caused the free hanging crystals in the chandelier to slowly twist and make patterns on the walls, tables, and diners. Judge Henderson nudged her. Speaking almost inaudibly he said, “The woman coming toward us looks like Agent Clarkston’s twin sister.”
“Nonsense,” said Edith. “That is Amanda White. “
When Amanda White reached them, she smiled broadly and said, “Edith Gunderson, so good to see you. Try the Chicken, Andouille, and Oyster Gumbo, it is divine.”