A walk in the rain for a plate of spaghetti

With soundcheck over it was time to kill time. Wander the halls, take a nap, walk the streets, maybe talk to a stranger or two, eat dinner.  Most shows, almost every show, it’s catering.  Over baked but more than likely under baked chicken, a vegetable, a potato of some kind is the the norm. This night would be different, the tour manager handed us cash, dinner was a buyout.  We were on our own, we had to fend for ourselves. This can be good, this can be bad.  If your at some off the interstate venue this means fast food or at best a chain joint. You can always pocket the money, save it for some truck stop trinket to bring home to your loved one, but this means a peanut butter sandwich with a handful of chips on the bus. As I said before this night would be differed, so very different.  You see the venue was not off the interstate somewhere in the middle of nowhere, this venue was the Lincoln Center in New York City.

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The heart of the theatre district, surrounded by some of the best food in the world.  There was no way I was eating peanut butter and jelly when every imaginable culinary delight was within a three block walk.  What was it going to be, the soup nazi was just down the street along with the Carnegie Deli, so was what I was told, the best Cuban restaurant outside of Havana. Then there was pizza, I know New York pizza is the best but I am from Chicago, end of discussion. I wanted something I had not had in awhile, something that I could not get back in Nashville, something that I would remember and talk about for days to come. I grew up in a Italian home, eating pasta at least twice a week.  Nothing came from a jar, everything was made from scratch. The smell of the sauce filled the house all day and when you finely made it to the table it was nothing less than an event. Patsy’s Italian Restaurant on West 56th street between Broadway & 8th ave. that is were I needed to go.

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It was a walk in a cold rain to then be rewarded with white table clothes and Dean Martin singing in the background. Frank Sinatra claim this to be his favorite, I had to wonder what table used to be his.  The smell of garlic and basil filled the room as it should.  We were seated at a table upstairs surrounded by diners all engaged in there meals, laughter and conversation coming at us from all directions.  The event had started for them and was about to begin for us. Our waiter was an older gentlemen with his white shirt black bow tie and grey hair combed back with a style that was his own.  He spoke broken english but in a very distinguish way.  When I heard him say Pasta Fagioli I was instantly brought back to my childhood, I could see my Nonie standing in the kitchen, a wooden spoon in hand telling me stories of the past.  When He placed the bowl in front of me I heard her say “eat, eat”.  The taste was overwhelming it was so smooth, smooth like silk. It was the same, it was just as I had remembered, it used to be my favorite, it was what I always asked her to make me.  I could have stopped there and walked away so very happy but I had to try more.  I wanted  to keep it simple, I still had a show to shoot, putting myself into a food coma would not be a good thing.  I just want a plate of Spaghetti and meatballs, topped with fresh graded cheese, and a bit of crushed red pepper.  He brought me just that and it was the best, the best I have had in years.  The smell, the texture of the pasta, the taste of the veal, it was all there.  I had no room left, I was spent, as much as I wanted to order more, try it all, I had to quite.  My unfinished plate would travel with me in a foil tin, back to the bus for lunch the next day. We walked back in the rain and all I could think of was this story, how good my meal was, and my Nonie and how much I missed her.

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The next day I decided not to have my leftovers and had a peanut butter sandwich instead. I want to bring them home to her, she had to know how good it really was. Some people eat to live, I live to eat and on a cold rainy night In New York City I lived and lived in the past for just a moment or two.