What If?

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Visiting our Baton Rouge friends’ Maine family

What if Andy and I had never had boiled lobster, freshly caught, in Owl’s Head, Maine….or Swedish Meatballs in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago.  Or Jamaican Jerk Chicken in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, or Jambalaya in a little cross-the-tracks restaurant in Baton Rouge, or Coho salmon in Gig Harbor, Washington?  Or what if we’d never had two little tortillas filled with carnitas at Tacolicious in San Francisco?  We’d be diminished both food-wise and culture-wise.

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Near and dear to our hearts: the Original Tacolicious on Chestnut St in SF – which moved to a new space 2 blocks down Chestnut in 2016.

There are a lot of What Ifs being discussed by the family for this year of 2019.   What if the Dodgers win (or – gasp – lose again) the World Series.  What if Manchester United could win the Premier League for the first time in six years?  What if Tacolicious opens in L.A.?  What if Stephen Curry loses his magic?  What if we get tired of blogging?  What if our grandson, Moss, gets into high school at SOTA, the SF School of the Arts ?  And what if our 17-year-old grandchildren Silas and Mia do (or – gasp – don’t) get into a college of their choice?  Andy, on the other hand – in Andy’s Corner, is asking whether Fortuna has a role in all of this.


I’ve been conflicted as I’ve watched our two high school senior grandkiddos agonize over the college application process.  They both seem so young and so needy of some perspective – and maybe maturity – before entering university.  Gap Years are certainly trendy at the moment…send those young’ns off to another continent to experience the world.  But my thinking is that a year devoted to our country would have immeasurable worth.

I have polled the elder members amongst our friends and family (including – gasp – my elder self).  We all feel strongly that some form of  public service for our country’s 18-year-olds would be a wonderful thing.  The conversation began after re-reading the details of George H W Bush’s World War II experiences….joining the military right after graduation from boarding school, becoming a navy pilot at the age of 19 and getting shot down at the age of 20.  Of course, we don’t wish anything remotely like that for this upcoming generation (dubbed Gen Z), and we acknowledge that the internet has already made them worldlier – at least online – than most of us elders would even want.

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This opened on Broadway Christmas 2012…with Anne Hathaway playing Fantine.

Fantine from Les Miserables – as well as many others of us – might belt out “but there are dreams that cannot be.”  And, admittedly,  the ifs ands or buts to a universal year of youth service seem almost insurmountable, but isn’t it fun to think about what if all of our 18 year olds had both the opportunity and the requirement to not only provide service to our country but to get acquainted with other folks and other regions – and, yes, other foods – of our lovely, complex United States.

Below we’ve linked already published recipes for jambalaya, jerk chicken, carnitas, and salmon.  And we’ve got a new one from our Bestie, Terry B, a native of Wisconsin, who assures us that when we finally venture that direction, we’re gonna love it.  Great Lakes, here we come!

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“Sconnie Soup” (Wisconsin Cheese and Beer) from Terry B

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In addition to Terry’s d-lish Wisconsin soup (recipe below), be sure to try our other regional recipes:

Baton Rouge Pork Jambalaya

Brooklyn Jerk Chicken

Gig Harbor Slow-Roasted Salmon

San Francisco Tacolicious Carnitas

And here’s a favorite old family photo from 1968, when the U.S. Army brought us – very unwillingly – to New Jersey and we met – very happily – the Ed Davis family.  If it had happened today, we might have hashtags that would read #FortDixNewJersey  #friendswhenwereallyneededfriends #lifeofanarmyprivate  #CA&COkidsgotoNJ #drinkmilkinsteadofwine

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Food brings us all together – in this case our newly-made friends from 1968 –  the very-New Jersey Davis family, and Andy and me (Andy took the photo)

Wisconsin Cheese and Beer Soup

Our Bestie from Milwaukee didn’t suggest the popcorn, but I read a few recipes that called for it, so don’t blame Terry, blame me if you think that’s crazy.  We served this to a bunch of Northern Californians – and they loved it!

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 t onion powder
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 c half & half
  • 12 oz beer
  • 1-1/2 lb shredded cheese  (cheddar is traditional but mixing in jalapeño jack or any other similar cheese works too)
  • buttered croutons – or popped popcorn and minced chives, optional

Spoon flour into measuring cup. Melt butter in soup kettle then whisk in flour. Stir constantly and cook until smooth. Add garlic, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Stir well. Gradually alternate stirring in broth, half & half and beer.

Stirring constantly, cook until thickened.

Slowly add cheese(s) and stir until melted.

Continue to cook on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes. DO NOT BOIL.  Serve with croutons or popcorn and chives.

Recipe brought to you by Terry B in Milwaukee and BigLittleMeals.com.








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