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Saturday, December 16, 2017

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SEVEN DEAD PUPPIES

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Under the Chinaberry Tree

This Week On
The Sound of Texas

Monday, December 11
Earl Gaddy Cumby Singer
Tuesday, December 12
David Leonard Liberty Jeeps
Wednesday, December 13
Dave Sansom Atlanta Photos
Thursday, December 14
Various Big Spring Warhawks
Friday, December 15
Jim Runge Eldorado Museum
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In Print: On News Stands Now

ADVENTURES IN EATING OUT AWAY FROM HOME

by Tumbleweed Smith

Years ago my wife Susan and I collaborated on a column about what makes a good restaurant. We covered atmosphere, cleanliness, service, food and drink, silverware, tablecloths, glassware, china and seating arrangements. We also talked about the proper way to clear a table. Susan is a fabulous, creative cook. We dine every night. We’ve been able to eat in some of the finest restaurants in the country and beyond. We usually don’t frequent franchise places, choosing instead to go to a local café or restaurant to soak up the atmosphere and flavor. This year, speaking appearances have taken us from one end of the state to the other. We’ve had some interesting and fun dining experiences.

At one barbeque place in central Texas, we got food from the grill, walked in the door and along the counter to pick up some vegetables, slaw and potato salad. We were happily looking over the merchandise when the girl at the cash register rushed up and told us we were on the wrong side of the counter and should be on the opposite side. Yes, ma’am. We complied. Some barbeque places have more rules than others. In another restaurant, we noticed the table where we sat had the number 26 on it in several places. We finished eating and were waiting for the bill. When it was apparent that it wasn’t going to come, we asked a person cleaning up if she could get our waitress to bring a bill. She said, “We don’t give bills. Just go to the cashier and ask for the bill for table 26. We did and sure enough, there was our bill in the stack with several others. I sometimes get the impression eating in local places that the wait staff never thinks that the people they’re serving might be from out of town.

Still another experience happened on our way home from the coast. We had a delicious lunch and again, no bill. We asked about that and were told to “just tell the lady at the cash register what you had.”

Late one afternoon we were shopping and asked the owner of the store where would be a good place to get some seafood. He enthusiastically named a restaurant. His wife, a most accommodating woman, said reservations were required and if we wanted her to call and make them, she would. We said yes. We were told that famous people from all over the world had eaten there. It was legendary. We were filled with anticipation and looking forward to a good meal.

Well, I gotta tell ya. Some legendary places should be taken off the list. There was no menu, no wine and practically no service. Ninety percent of the food was fried. The waiter who finally showed up at our table and told us what was being served seemed impatient that we had questions like “Is the shrimp from the gulf?” He wasn’t sure. When I asked him what the specialty of the place was, he said, “A lot of people order drum.”

I ordered it broiled and it came pan-fried. Susan ordered fried shrimp that came with French fries. They were cold. We drove forty miles for that experience. Next time we’ll consider a franchise meal. Please excuse the whine.

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