Don’t you just love it when someone says something like, “Hey, I’ve discovered this new place to eat and the food is a-maz-ing!”
Because of course then you’ve just gotta go, and how cool is it when the food really is amazing, and the atmosphere makes you feel welcome and the service is terrific and the prices are reasonable and they offer you a “to go” cup with your drink refill when you get ready to leave?
So then you tell your friends, which gives you that extra added bonus of being one of the first to “know and tell,” and it quickly takes its place among your rotation of favorite places to eat.
Owensboro is just overflowing with these gems, as this “Dining Guide” issue illustrates, from the big-name franchises to the little diner that comes closer to “home cooking” than home ever did.
It’s hard to know whether this is true of people who live elsewhere, but it sure seems like people around here love to eat out.
And that’s great. What’s not to love about settling into a comfortable booth, scanning a menu that is filled with all your favorite things, “from soup to nuts” as your grandfather might have said, although as far as you know, nobody actually serves nuts—well, unless you count the peanuts at that place where some people like to throw the shells on the floor, but you feel too guilty about creating work for the clean-up crew so you drop yours carefully into that extra bucket they give you.
And you’re with your favorite people: Maybe a date, or family or friends, maybe teammates or co-workers, but someone whose company you enjoy enough to want to spend this time together.
And there’s also the big plus of everyone getting to order what they want, how they want it, even if that means a cheeseburger with no cheese (long story) or a plain taco shell with nothing in it (even longer story).
Not to mention the fact that you don’t have to do the dishes, but instead someone comes swooping out of the kitchen with a big tray and a washrag and wipes up the spills and splatters off the table and carries all the dishes somewhere out of sight where you don’t have to worry about them at all, unlike the situation at your house where dirty dishes might sit around in the sink for a couple of days before someone gets around to washing them or hiding them in the dishwasher until you are forced into action by running out of clean plates or glasses.
So there are a million reasons why eating out is great, wonderful, fantastic, and everyone likes it.
But if you want to know the truth—If I could pick one meal, one place, as the “best ever” in the entire dining experience of my life so far and forever, it would be this one:
Sitting on the front porch of the house where I grew up, on a hot summer night, the darkness illuminated only by the streetlights, the occasional flash of headlights as a car went down the street, and the slow-motion blinking of fireflies.
I am leaning against the support post and my Momma is sitting a few feet away on the edge of the porch, her bare feet on the concrete steps where the paint is peeling away. Her chin rests in the palm of one hand, her elbow is propped on her knee, and she is looking into the darkness as if the answer to a great question might be found there.
I am eating a bologna sandwich. Field brand bologna, the kind with the red plastic edge that you peeled off and had to tuck deep into the trash can or else the dogs would sniff it out and chew on it and maybe choke. Colonial Bread, bought fresh from the bakery just down the street, and whose aroma mingled with that of the tangled honeysuckle vines that are taking over the fence around the back yard.
Cicadas whirr in the background as my mother speaks to me; her voice is quiet, gentle … tired.
I eat my sandwich; I don’t say much. Maybe I don’t say anything.
I tear off two pieces of bread crust and throw them to my dogs, one each. They snap them up and swallow them whole, look toward me with expectant eyes, see the sandwich is gone, and lay down again in the cool grass, sniffing the night air and scratching at fleas.
With all due respect to every restaurant listed in this Dining Guide and to all the wonderful places I enjoy visiting … I would trade them all for just one more summer night, on the porch, with my Momma and a bologna sandwich.