Brown: In memory of a home-cooked meal

SHARE Brown: In memory of a home-cooked meal

Half slabs of St.Louis ribs on (top) and Baby Back ribs on (bottom) with cole slaw and cornbread from Smoque, 3800 N. Pulaski. 2007 File Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

Follow @MarkBrownCSTIf somebody were to hold a contest with the first prize of paying for all your restaurant meals — whether dining in, carry out or delivery — for the next two months, would that be something you’d be interested in winning?

Probably sounds pretty good.

Now, what if I told you that you were required to get ALL your meals from restaurants for the next two months? Can’t even cook yourself a hamburger.

And that nobody else is going to pay for it, because I was lying about the contest.

It’s sounding a lot less appealing, I’ll bet.

That’s been my life for about two months now, except nobody lied to me. I did it to myself.

We’re remodeling the kitchen in our condo. The work is almost done. Looks nice. No complaints there.


Follow @MarkBrownCSTBut I never would have anticipated what a joyless experience it could be to eat restaurant food EVERY SINGLE DAY, even in one of the world’s great restaurant cities.

Before I say another word, please allow me to save myself some grief by admitting I am a very fortunate person just to be able to afford to eat at restaurants, let alone to remodel the kitchen.

There are children and homeless people going hungry in Chicago. I write about them. I get it. Shame me if you must.

Only I just need to vent, because at some point in the next hour, my wife is going to call me on her way home from work, and eventually one of us is going to have to pop the dreaded question:

What are we going to do about dinner tonight?

And I don’t have an answer. So help me God, I’m completely out of answers.

A person can study the Yelp app only so many times before they have to admit to themselves that they have exhausted the known universe of ethnic dining experiences. GrubHub should be an option, not a lifestyle.

Mexican, Thai, Italian, Jamaican, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Chinese.

I’ve had it all. And that’s just in the last week.

Cajun, Barbecue, Argentinian, Belgian, Southern, Swedish. That’s just off the top of my head.

And pizzas, pizzas, pizzas.

I used to think I could eat pizza every single night of the week and be happy. But that was when I was young and thin and living within 10 minutes of Palermo’s on 95th Street. I can no longer eat pizza every night, although if I was closer to Palermo’s, maybe I’d give it a try.

Even as I write this, it almost sounds appealing, and I can see I’ve had some good meals, although precious few great ones. It’s the combined effect that takes the fun out of it.

Part of the problem here is that I’m spoiled in that I have a wife who is both a great cook and enjoys cooking, as long as I’m willing to clean up the mess, which has always been good deal for me.

It’s not even her special meals I miss as much as the simple ones, like a home-cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs on a weekend morning or a quick dinner of greasy ground beef tacos made with packaged seasoning mix and the crunchy tortilla shells. (I can make those myself.)

I am writing this Tuesday, which means I need to get home to watch the World Series, an extra dining complication this past month.

Maybe I’ll stop at Smoque, the Northwest Side barbecue joint. My wife has been asking for ribs. I’ll get the brisket.

Did I mention that I haven’t dared step on the bathroom scale since the second week?

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