Forgive me while I’m busy laughing at myself and this week’s photography prompt from WordPress:
This week, focus on dinnertime: share a meal with us, or shoot during your dinner hour. Blogger’s choice!
So the reason I find this completely hilarious is trifold… First, one of my most favorite hobbies is photography. I’m admittedly an amateur, but I’ve been at it for a good thirty years or so because my folks felt it was okay to put their Canon A-1 in our hands when we were wee tykes. I learned to focus manually, because “autofocus” wasn’t invented yet, when I was nine or ten.
Second, I graduated from culinary school. I adore food. I’m one of the pickiest eaters you’ve ever met, though. If I don’t like it, I won’t eat it. I’m a grown-up. I’m allowed to have dessert first, if I choose, and to avoid any food I don’t like. The best I can figure, I have a highly sensitive palette and about 95% of the time I either love or hate a flavor. There really is no middle ground for me. But if I hate it, I loathe it. I find the food completely repulsive. Don’t try to slip any onions in my food. I can smell them long before I get the fork in my mouth and I will pick them out and eat around them.
Third and lastly, I hardly ever photograph food. I’m a hobbyist photographer who knows my way around a kitchen and appreciates a fine meal, but I never photograph my meals. The thought of photographing my food doesn’t even enter my mind, to be honest. I’m too excited to eat the beautiful, tasty meal than to stare at it through a lens! But… this week had a mild exception to that rule and the novelty of the first picture was the impetus for the breach in my routine.
You see, I turned forty. (No, this is not a maudlin post wherein I whine about how old I’m getting–because I believe none of that rubbish. I know my birth certificate says I was born in 1976, but I’m pretty certain I’ve been lied to. I feel and look like I’m closer to 32, or so I’m told.)
My fortieth birthday was Thursday. I take birthdays very seriously. I even have birthday rules. Yes, birthday rules. They are:
- Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday. My birthday is April 14, and I almost always take that date off and very often the thirteenth and/or fifteenth as well.
- Thou shalt never lie about thine age. I’ve earned every single solitary minute of every hour of every day of every year… by blood, sweat, and tears, they’re all mine!
- Thou shalt celebrate thy birthday as frequently as possible. And I do so with gusto!
- Thou shalt stretch thy birthday celebration out as long as humanly possible. As previously stated, my date of birth is April 14… I’ve celebrated in July, August, and October–yes, I’m serious!
- Thou shalt have ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins and the dinner of thy choosing; the order of which thee partakes of these goodies is up to the birthday person. First, the cake is very specific… roll cake with mint ‘n chip or chocolate chip ice cream and ganache for frosting. No, there are no substitutes. Don’t try to pass off Cold Stone or DQ cakes. Nothing doing! Second, I like to eat roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy for my birthday. Mom’s recipe only, thank you.
- Thou shalt never turn down presents. Duh.
I have two sort of/sometimes rules:
- Thou shalt try to travel on or around thy birthday.
- Thou shalt attend a baseball game in celebration of thy birthday.
The first rule of birthdays, Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday, would’ve been enforced Thursday (and possibly Friday), but my boss flew in from Dallas and scheduled meetings. Let me tell you, I had ZERO motivation to work. ZE-RO. But W told me to pick the restaurant for dinner because it was my birthday (he also sang me a very comical version of the birthday song) and I chose Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I’d never eaten there, I’ve eaten at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak five or six times now and I wanted to try something new. Everything else is too far from the office, so Ruth’s Chris it was.
Midday, the restaurant called to confirm our reservation, which I did. The young lady asked if it was a “special occasion” for anyone in the party. I am not a convincing liar so I just opted for the humor of the moment, “You’re going to make me rat myself out, huh?” and confirmed it was my birthday.
Here’s the thing with fine dining… Ruth’s is by no means the upper crust, but it’s a far cry from In-N-Out. Fine dining, by its own admission, strives to excel at every aspect of the meal. It’s an event. The devil’s in the details. It’s “fine”…
When we arrived, there was a menu prepared especially for me. It had my name on it! (Yes, I got to keep it.) Our server asked whose birthday we were celebrating and confirmed my name. She referred to me by name for the remainder of the evening. I’ve never seen that done in a restaurant and it’s an excellent touch. It’s an attention to detail. And it enhances the engagement of the patron, and in this case, me.
When it came time to order dessert, I chose the banana cream pie with caramelized bananas. I was thinking it would be a slice of pie, not a pie large enough to feed four people. I literally ate a quarter of it and brought the rest home. It was marvelously delicious, but after a 10-oz. bone-in filet to die for with sides of lobster mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, steamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato casserole, I was pretty darn full. It was all incredible and you are looking at the total number of photos from the occasion. I wouldn’t have taken any photos, but I had to text a picture of the menu to my family. And when they wrote my name on the plate–most restaurants just stick with the tried and true, Happy Birthday, and move on–it had to be memorialized as well.
All in all, if I couldn’t celebrate my birthday with family or the friends of my choosing, this wasn’t too shabby. (Don’t worry, the parental units are flying in from out of state next weekend and we’re celebrating Rosie’s first birthday and my fortieth, so it’s all good. Birthday breakfast for the baby and then fancy family dinner for me. I’ll have my camera with me for both of those occasions, though.)