The drive was only 30 minutes but it felt like eternity- I had not eaten anything substantial since last night and my stomach had been grumbling in earnest all day long- as I tried to fend off its anger with a few nibbles on stale Swiss chocolate here and there followed up with one banana and one orange. Stupid me had forgotten the water and while I was in hospital for work I grabbed a few important slurps from the water fountain, my drooping eyes longed for a mountain dew or a cup of coffee- I practically sat facing a coffee shop all day long. I could feel my eyes dropping and the only thing to hold me out was the promise of a huge dinner tonight.
I cursed pesach under my breath as I watched the watch hands inch themselves to 5pm when I was off work and would begin my drive over to the Friar Tuck Inn over the river in Catskill New York. I have passed by this mysterious place over 100 times in my day- in fact just two days ago I passed by it on my way to Kingston- I do everything in my power not to take the thruway and give extra money to the bulging pockets of the state. Yes I understand that the NY state thruway is well kept and clear of snow and that my tolls go towards the endless construction that starts every year around this time- but how about all the thousands of miles of other road that has no toll levied on them? Exactly- NY State has screwed us again with their insatiable appetite to charge us for everything they can.
I drove towards Leeds and then down Route 32 toward the hotel where I would be eating dinner. I also looked forward to checking it out- my father had always brought up going there for pesach- but my brother and I always wanted to go to New Hampshire whenever the option came up.
A quick change into nicer clothes on the side of the road, a half frozen butt and I was pulling into a spot in front of the hotel. Immediately on entering I found someone who was nice enough to lead me to the dining area- I found out where my party would be sitting and noticed that no one was there yet. I decided to wander around, I could already tell my father would have felt uncomfortable sitting in his shorts and t-shirts reading the Jewish Press on yuntiff afternoon- I don’t think they would have let him. It was rather yeshivish clientele.
I walked down passed the dining room, passed the shull and beis medrish- where many folks where shteiging away during their vacation- made me feel good actually. I burst through into the lobby area. It was a mess, not a mess literally, but it was like a stroller and plopped peoples frenzy. Folks where just chilling everywhere, mostly women just schmoozing and tons of kids running around, it was ,like a sea of strollers and sheitles with a few men thrown in the mix. The men mostly had Bluetooth devices in their ears and were busy with their laptops or blackberries- hocking with some unseen folks back in Brooklyn.
I went to the front of the room grabbed a bunch of the free Jewish newspapers and found a seat next to some old lady. I plopped down- felt good after a long day of tiresome work. I started flipping through the press and yated- to see what was going on in the Jewish world- nothing is going on. I turned to the women next to me and struck up a conversation about food. I wanted to plan my attack, I needed to know how big the portions were, was it worth it to indulge on appetizers? Or should I wait for the main meal? What about the desert? Non-gebrokts I assumed- though the modern day ingredients allows much to be done even without the famed matzo pizza and matzo brie. She had one of those old yenta voices and suddenly it went from food to- “nu how old are ya, where do you live? So you looking for a shidduch? Etc” I don’t mind like most folks and actually like when they ask the questions- women love to yent(is this a word) and there were other ladies sitting around- I don’t mind if a bunch of ladies start offering their granddaughters to me- it feels cool.
I got to daven mincha and rock the musaf that I forgot to say in morning. I wandered around a again and just plopped back on the couch as before and started talking to another older lady- this little shorty- with a real thick old school Brooklyn accent- I love the old yiddisher mamalas- I really get a kick out of them and love hearing their stories. Its actually older folks in general- I love hearing about their pasts. This one did in fact have a granddaughter there and said I should come to table #48- I was too embarrassed when the time came and shirked that obligation.
My peeps finally showed up and I sat down to a sliced cantaloupe plate and gazed at the menu. It used words like succulent and pungent, causing small droplets of drool to form at the edges of my mouth. I went into tunnel syndrome and lost contact with all but imagining the choices on the menu. Teriyaki fish, sweet succulent bbq ribs, tangy and pungent sweet and sour chicken. I sat imagining the sweet and sour sauce dripping onto my shirt as I speared piece after piece of gently fried chicken breasts together with some sautéed veggies. I imagined a big steak knife in my left hand gently sawing through the slightly reddish meat of a large rib steak. I was snapped back into reality by my hostess “do you want the tongue” No I don’t eat tongue normally, but my angry, empty stomach- told me it would be fine just this one time.
The tongue came in a small bowl, smeared with sweet red sauce, together with prunes and apples- it tasted amazing, I licked my lips like a porn star seducing a young boy and begged for more. I smeared the sauce onto the luxurious pieces of tongue and a felt the warm cows tongue make its way between my teeth and push my taste buds into orgasmal ecstasy. The waitress came and I ordered the ribs and a steak, suddenly a soup was placed in front of me and I went to business- once again ignoring anything else to have full kavannah on the task that lay ahead. My nose started running and my eyes tearing as if I had bitten into a piece of horse radish at the seder to show off to some ladies- ah hot and sour soup I thought to myself as I wiped my tears like windshield wipers to see what lay ahead.
I heard a ruckus coming from the center of the room and heard Viennese desert table spoken with awe amongst some of the table to table rumors flying over the length of the dining room. I saw what looked to be a chocolate fountain and then it disappeared behind a wall of people. When I got to the table and weaseled my way into acquiring a plate I noticed that everyone was pushing and shouting. I guess shomer negia and food don’t fix, because the scene that unfolded with everyone pushing and trying to get a dollop of whatever they had dumped on their plate resembled the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at opening. Throngs of people shoved and pushed their way to gaze at the beautiful fruit sculptures and chocolate fountains. I luckily being large, squeezed in and got a scoop of amazing blondie cake. The food looked much better then it was as is usually the case. I must give a thumbs up to the artists who made the display for it waqs truly a work of art. I was waiting for something like the November Rain music video to happen when everyone slips and slides across the table running over cakes in their path. The crowd heaved and heaved and people were served, no one paid any attention to anyone but the prize. I was proud to be a Jew and proud that my fellow Jews were imitating a running of the bulls- or running of the Kiddush like extravaganza.
It reminded me of this annual sushi Kiddush my shull in NYC had- hundreds of people would come once a year to my shull for free sushi. Its funny how even though most of the Upper West side Jews are wealthy- they will still fight to the death for free food, I remember the fights that broke out over the last sushi trays. This was nothing like that thank God- the sushi Kiddush did sometimes get violent- with blatant hitting and elbowing. Here was just a bunch of friendly Jews hocking with each other for that first strawberry crape.
When I exited the Viennese exchange I found my food to be at my place. It wasn’t what I had ordered- but what the hell? I dug in, it was pieces of steak with tons of thick brown sauce, sautéed zucchini and squash and rather soggy French fries. The meat was great, and I ate to my hearts content and then some. I grabbed someone’s sweet and sour chicken and went to town. Then I got my steak- which was disappointingly burnt, everything else was great though and the service was phenomenal. I also got to talk to this lady who’s husband had a spudick- I love the spudick dudes. I also love the pancake hat chussids.
So I started talking to Mrs. Spuddick about seltzer and we really got going, what a seltzer critic she was. Bashing all the hiemishe seltzer brands, swearing by Perrier and Pellegrino. I am more of a vintage fan myself I told her, to which she agreed that the fiz content of vintage was well within the limits of a fine seltzer. We spoke of the old seltzer delivery- she recalled the place on 43-44th in Boro-Park with fondness and we made everyone laugh at the silliness of out discussion. I then asked her if she knows of any meidlach. Vell my son is 29 so I am working on him- to which I responded that she shouldn’t be fooled by my purple shirt because I am not into men. I figured either she would reprimand me or who knows- the comment slipped. She had this hearty old women spuddick laugh about her son wearing this pink outfit as a kid- though she assured me he wasn’t gay.
I wanted to stay for Yeedle- but I over heard someone say skiing and decided I would be able to ski tomorrow and then carry on with yuntiff plans.