Mark made me pot roast tonight. It gave me serious nostalgia. When I was in high school, I was the Sunday 2-10pm waitress at a local cafe. Pot roast was the Sunday night special. Every Sunday, the back kitchen (the room behind the kitchen where the flour bags and extra wine were kept) smelled fantastic from the beef roast, potatoes, and carrots melting in the slow cooker. I remember the scale we'd use to measure out portions--was it 6 oz or 8?--and the way the meat and vegetables looked stacked up on the beige and blue plates. I think folks usually had soup or salad first, but I can't remember. Was it $5.95? $6.95?
Gioia, the fantastic cook with whom I most often worked, loved this special, and always told me to "push the roast." That way there was no work for her and she could do her week's prep and not have to stay late. We'd be listening to the CD player--my choice, usually--and she'd be chopping veggies as I dished up roast for my tables. When she heard the Counting Crows, she asked me why I didn't just listen to Van Morrison if that's the sound I wanted.
The other great thing about pot roast nights was that we never sold it all, and that meant free staff dinner. Whether or not this free staff dinner was actually permitted escapes me now, but I know I took it, and nobody ever seemed to mind. I love pot roast--always have. I have a thing for meat you can cut with your fork. My mom made it fairly often as well, but for some reason the memory that came to mind tonight was the roast at Tomaselli's. I think maybe it was that Mark used red wine, and my mom never did.
As I get older, I am more thankful for sensory memory. Smelling or tasting something brings back something much more vivid than the picture I can call to mind when asked about an experience or a time in my life, and it sneaks up on me in what is usually a pleasant way. While you couldn't convince me to spent Sunday nights taking orders and cleaning tables and smiling now, it's nice to think back on it. It's been more than ten years now, and I don't taste the bitter anymore, or smell the charred. In memory, it's all warm and delicious.