‘Tis greater to be seared or loved?

Dishes 146-149: Fisherman’s Stew at Oyster House, Sansom between 15th and 16th, http://www.oysterhousephilly.com

Funghi Trentino at La Viola, 16th between Latimer and Spruce, 215-735-8630 (**If anyone knows the owners, for the love of God, mention that they should look into a website, or a citysearch. Or PR of any kind. It’s a little ridiculous how hard it is to get contact info for this place.)

Snapper soup at Blue Ox Bistro & Pulled Pork Sandwich at Bebe’s BBQ: both restaurants have closed.

My mind began to wander to a drafty classroom on the second floor of the Vasey building as I waited for the hostess to return to the telephone line. My professor had asked us to write a paper about a principle in Machiavelli’s The Prince that we found to be wrong. Quiet and anxious throughout the lecture, I visited him afterwards, tears welling in my eyes. I had done all of the readings, some of them twice, taken notes in the margins referencing favorite quotations, applicable anecdotes, and similar ideas by other philosophers. But I hadn’t disagreed with a single principle. Perhaps some of his ideas were not warm and fuzzy, but none of them were outright wrong, I thought. JP’s response was brief: “Lauren, you need to reconsider your values.”

It was here that my mind wandered when the hostess informed me via telephone that the fisherman’s stew was not available today at Oyster House. – groan – I love Oyster House! I’ve been there four times in the past three months—and somehow, it always “just happens to be” the day they don’t have it! So when she asked if I would try the gumbo instead, and I said no, it had to be the fisherman’s stew, Molly looked at me across our cubicles and suggested maybe I just try the gumbo instead. Who would be the wiser?

I have tried the gumbo, actually. And it did cross my mind that the number of individuals able to distinguish the rice-laden, tomatoey, heart-warming gumbo from the piquant, seafood-loaded fisherman’s stew is probably quite small. And among them, the number who read this blog would be even smaller… wouldn’t it? Who WOULD be the wiser?

But I would know! Would the technique be effective—yes. Cost-effective. Time-effective. Fitting-into-my-pants-effective. But that isn’t really the point of this mission, is it? (NO! Let us not fit into our pants! Let us leave them perpetually unzipped! Huzzah!) Cheating serves the immediate purpose, of writing a couple hundred words about an excessively sumptuous lunch without gaining weight or spending cash, but not the stated goal, to discover the merits of Philly through its best eats; and to celebrate the unstated and unexpected, but omnipresent subplot of falling in love with the kindness of Philadelphians—and just as I came to this victorious, determined realization, the hostess came back on the line. “Hello, miss? You wanted one fisherman’s stew, correct?”

 I stopped for a moment, “I thought it wasn’t on the menu today?”

“It isn’t. But the chef said he can make it for you anyway.”

And brotherly love conquers all, yet again.

 ***

Also of note: for those who love mushrooms, Philly Magazine was not overselling La Viola’s funghi trentino when they used the phrase “If we could take this garlicky multiple-mushroom dish of awesomeness intravenously, we would.” The only thing that excites me more than this dish is fantasizing about the mushroom cream sauce I’m going to make with the leftovers.

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One Response to “‘Tis greater to be seared or loved?”

  1. rupert Says:

    I think this entry was particularly well written, and I think I’ve heard that phrase about reconsidering one’s values too many times over my college career, and I’m glad it struck such a resounding chord you could seamlessly integrate into a critique on fisherman’s stew.
    My fav:
    “Would the technique be effective—yes. Cost-effective. Time-effective. Fitting-into-my-pants-effective. But that isn’t really the point of this mission, is it? (NO! Let us not fit into our pants! Let us leave them perpetually unzipped! Huzzah!)” I enjoyed it mightily. It has rhythm.

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