Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #36 (The “Sugar-Crusted Jelly at the Salvador Deli” Version)

Yesterday, I ate enough food to feed a family of twelve.

It all started out rather innocently, as I often state, usually with some degree of tongue in cheek, around mid-morning. Partner and I had arisen and were mutually staring into the jungle of contents within our wide-open fridge. (This is often how we plan our meals, waiting for inspiration whilst the electricity bill clicks ever higher. I apparently learned nothing in my childhood, when my father would have thumped me on head for being so fiscally irresponsible and then slammed the door in my face.)

We discovered a tube of Pillsbury biscuits (the “Grands!” kind, meaning they are larger than normal, as Partner and I are pigs and we can never select chaste items from any menu) that had technically expired the day before. Back in my working days, with those regular and admittedly-hefty paychecks, I would have simply tossed the tube and moved on. But now that I’m retired and one eye is always on the budget, the new normal is that we simply must eat the Grands before the potentiality of digestive malfeasance increased by letting them sit any longer. So, biscuits for breakfast it was to be.

I would have been fine with just the biscuits as, and this would prove to be the ironic element of the day, I really wasn’t all that hungry. I just needed some butter and jelly and all would be good. Partner, however, is a bit of a completist when it comes to meal preparation and presentation, so he also snatched up some eggs to scramble and some bacon to fry. Soon, enticing aromas were fogging the kitchen. (Cleo the Cat made an appearance, her eyes full of hope. We pointed to her “special diet” treats in her special bowl. She was not impressed and went in search of a place to snooze for 13 hours. Because her life is so hard.)

A bit later, I was separating the steaming biscuits into halves and slathering them with enough butter to cause my personal physician to cut me from his patient list, should video footage ever be released of this gluttonous incident. (So much now-liquid butter was running off the biscuits that I had a small lake on my plate, with the strips of bacon and mounds of scrambled eggs floating around in a rather admirable recreation of the Titanic aftermath. (“Don’t let go, Jack!”)

I then made my jelly selection from the array of options in the fridge. I chose an item from the Mackays line of products, a delightful concoction christened “Blueberry & Black Currant Preserve”. (The Mackays line is delish; try some today!) I unscrewed the lid to discover a sparkly, white, crystalline landscape, indicating that some of the sugar (and they use a lot of it) had separated from the batch and tried to get closer to Jesus.

I instantly flashed-back to my wee-bairn days, when the family-favorite jam line was Griffin’s. (Most likely because Griffin’s was super cheap, a defining factor behind most of our food choices at the time.) In those days, Griffin’s packaged their products in large “glasses” with a pop-off lid. Once you had consumed all the strawberry preserves, you had a lovely tea glass that you could add to your dinnerware cupboard. We ended up with thousands of them, to the point that if you broke one, nobody gave a damn at all. Besides, there would most likely be a replacement glass after the next breakfast session.

Griffin’s used even more sugar than Mackays currently does, so when you popped that special top there was a sugar-cake-layer the size of a hockey puck. You had to pry that sucker out of the way to get to the good stuff, which seemed a bit of a waste. Until you realized that you could chunk the sugar puck into a freshly made pitcher of sweet tea, assuming you didn’t mind the tinge of grape or peach, and then serve the beverage in one of the hundreds of jelly glasses. (Poor folks had to be creative, natch.)

I shook off this reverie and returned to the present day, wherein I zapped the jar of Mackays in the microwave for a few seconds to soften the sugar cap. (No really, it works. Just don’t get carried away with the zapping time.) I then stirred up the contents, working the sugar granules back into the main mix. (They would have to meet Jesus some other day.) Finally, I doused my already-sodden biscuits with enough blueberry and black currant goo that the melted butter instantly became jealous.

I then ate everything on my plate, smacking my lips indulgently. (I was actually full after the first half biscuit, but I have control issues.) Twenty minutes later, I was sprawled on a couch in the den, moaning and groaning and cursing the fact that food is so readily available in this house. I was theoretically watching some TV show that Partner had picked out on the DVR, but I really don’t remember a thing, having slipped into catatonia at some point.

That was Round 1.

Round 2 occurred later that afternoon, when we met up with friends at Mario’s Mexican and Salvadorian Restaurant. (I’ve written about this establishment before, in a post found here. If you remember that story, or if you perused it now, you’ll recall that the one key element to remember about such a place is that the drinks are really strong. Somebody up in that bar has a generous pouring technique.) Naturally, I forgot my own advice, and I sucked down the first drink like an anteater on crack. (Truth be told, it’s very possible that I may have ordered the “jumbo” version of the sangria swirl, but I’m not signing anything.)

I was instantly buzzed. And part of the joy of buzzing, at least in my version, is that I become very invested in anything that anyone might have to say. I was talking to everybody about everything, don’t hold back, let me have it. (For those of you who know me well, I usually don’t say anything to anybody unless extreme coercion is involved. Even then, I do so grudgingly.) I had at least five other people at the table convinced that we were Best Friends 4 Ever.

I ordered another drink, possibly a jumbo, still not signing anything. The merriment and joviality continued.

The waiter finally convinced us to order our dinners, probably inspired by the guests surrounding our long table demanding that he get some food into us so we would stop cackling like witches in heat. (We may or may not have been kind of loud, not signing.) I noticed that everyone else was ordering from the Mexican side of the menu, which seemed kind of silly to me. How often can you get authentic Salvadorian food? Even in Texas, not that much. So, I purposely and dramatically ordered something called “Mario’s Sampler”, trying to make a point.

This point was somewhat lost as I apparently stumbled when announcing my selection to the waiter, because he responded to my announcement by asking how I would like my burger cooked. (Turns out that there’s another item on the menu called “Mario’s Burger”, in a small section reserved for anal-retentive gringos who shouldn’t be in this restaurant in the first place. I guess there might have been some slurring and/or forgetting of critical keywords on my part, not signing.)

Eventually the waiter figured out which item I actually wanted, but then he startled me with another question. “Is the chicken okay?”

Why is he asking me that? I didn’t recall any options when I read the description. Of course, I hadn’t recognized most of the things in that description, I just knew that it was a variety of Salvadorian food and I wanted to taste them all, trying to prove a point which now seemed a bit elusive to me. So, I defaulted. “Sure, that would be fine.”

He ran away, hopefully placing our order but possibly leaving the country. Americans can be so annoying.

I continued slurping my second jumbo drink, which was now my best friend, despite my assurances to at least five people at the table that they were my best friends. (I’m a bit of a friend whore when I drink. And I’ll turn on you in a second if a better option comes along.) On the plus side, once we realized that everyone at the table had been involved in our excursion last year to Hidden Valley Ranch in Pecos, New Mexico, we made plans to do it again next year. (You can read a bit about that in a post found here.) I have no idea if anyone will remember this plan. Because, drinking.

The waiter finally arrived with our food, and when he got to me, he slapped a platter in front of me the size of an SUV hubcap, brimming with at least 20 different things that I did not recognize. (Keep in mind that I am not all that hungry, as I was still full from breakfast, with my discreet belches tasting like butter and cholesterol, accented with sangria and personal shame.) But I was determined to at least try everything once. After all, I was making a statement. About something.

I immediately committed a party foul with my first choice. It looked like a burrito, but it was wrapped in masa instead of a tortilla. (A variation on a tamale, perhaps? No clue.) When I cut into it with my fork, there was a bit of an insurrection, as the cut piece decided to leap off the hubcap and land on the table, splatting. Beth, who was sitting on my left, expertly whipped out her cloth napkin and whisked the miscreant away. She was now my best friend, at least for the next three seconds.

In the end, I tried everything on that damn platter. It was all very tasty, but I had no idea what I was eating. And it soon became clear that I shouldn’t have tried everything. I could barely breathe I was so packed with ethnic experiences. I had to get up and walk around the restaurant so things could adjust and shift.

When I got back to the table, I discovered that Beth was no longer my current best friend, because she had ordered me another drink. This one was smaller, but it was topped with Grand Marnier, evil incarnate. I did not need this drink, as I was already having mild visions that one doesn’t have unless alcohol or peyote is involved. (Not that I would know about the second part, I’m just guessing. Swear.)

Trooper that I am, I began sipping on that third drink, but not before handing my car keys to Partner. He was still, wisely, nursing on his first jumbo. He was now the salvation point for our drive home. Good luck with that, pumpkin. Love you.

Eventually, everyone was properly sated and it was time to depart. We made our farewells (“Hidden Valley Ranch next year! Be there or be square!”) and then piled into our various vehicles. I’m sure I babbled the entire way home. Because, drinking. Once at the domicile, I could have easily gone right to bed, but I knew that was not a viable option. If I fell face down on the mattress at 8 o’clock, I would be wide awake at one in the morning. So, we watched an episode of “Hollywood Game Night” (Jane Lynch is a hoot!) and then an episode of “Dateline” (Why is it that the villainous perpetrator always does something incredibly stupid that leads to their conviction? Do we not have any smart killers anymore? This country is going to hell.)

At ten-thirty, I fell face down.

At three-thirty in the morning, I woke up. Damn it. This was so not good.

Then the grumbling and bubbling started. Something was clearly amiss with my digestive system. I can’t imagine why. Surely it didn’t have anything to do with me consuming enough grease in the last 16 hours that you could drill for oil and hit a geyser on the first try. In any case, I was convinced that I was carrying Rosemary’s baby. And he was pretty pissed about the whole situation. I just needed to stay perfectly still and this would all pass so I could drift off again.

I did not drift off. For a very long time.

Instead, I composed this post in my head whilst my cervix slowly dilated, preparing for an unholy delivery.

And now I’m delivering this post to you.

Because you’re my best friend. Until the next drink.


Previously published, slight changes made.

27 replies »

  1. It’s posts like this that make me curse the thousand plus miles between us. A jumbo sangria swirl, a Salvadoran sampler and the chance to be your best friend for 3 minutes? Sign me up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Biscuits and butter. Yep. But have you ever had pork n bean soup? Here’s what you do. You open a can of pork n beans and put them in a saucepan. Then…you add about half a tub of yellow lard posing as butter…and yum! You can either eat it out of a bowl or put them between two slices of bread (lavishly buttered of course) and eat it with a fork. Now we’re talking! 😬

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t recall ever having pork n bean soup, specifically, but we had a lot of them in my childhood and my Granny never meet a can of lard that she couldn’t use up in one weekend, so it’s entirely possible that I’ve had this delicacy. I do know that I’ve had hot dog sandwiches. You cut the weenies in half, lengthwise, line em up on one piece of bread and then slather the other piece with barbecue sauce (if you have it) or mayo (if the pickings are slim). It’s not quite a pork n bean sandwich, but it has some of the same ingredients. And if you want to get REALLY fancy, you toast the bread first…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’ve had the weenie sandwiches. First you cut them open and fry them until they’re almost black…then smear mustard all over both pieces of bread…and voila! Good eatin’. I used to do the same with Vienna sausages. I could get over the fact they looked like tiny little thumbs crammed into a can…but then I happened to read the ingredients…chicken, frog hearts and penis foreskin…YUK!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not a proper biscuit unless the butter (please tell me you use real butter… not that yellow crap that pretends to be butter… lie to me if you must) is dripping out! My question is why the bacon grease wasn’t turned into gravy?? Biscuits and gravy beats biscuits with jam every day of the week and twice on Sundays!!

    I seriously HATE when my sleep is interrupted or worse, canceled completely, by my body wanting to expel waste from things I’ve put into it. I mean, who’s in charge, me or my body?!

    Obviously it’s the body, and I’m just in denial☹️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I agree, biscuits are much better with gravy, but I do like me some jam as well. Sausage gravy is my favorite, by far, and bacon-grease gravy is fine, but I’m a little picky about the consistency with either one. I don’t like to taste the flour, if you know what I mean. And it’s not easy to get it just right, which is probably why we didn’t do gravy in this episode. I fully admit that I’m not so great at making it. Partner is much better, but we still haven’t mastered it to the point where it’s as yummy as what the gravy-savvy experts in our family can make. Ergo, I usually get my fix by either visiting relatives or stopping by the local Whataburger. For a fast-food chain, they make a surprisingly delicious sausage gravy (it has a slightly peppery taste), and they give you a TON of it so you can really drown their equally-good biscuits. I practically salivate while I’m in the drive-thru line, giddy with anticipation…

      I’ve been VERY dissatisfied with my body for a while now. We are clearly not working from the same agenda, and the insubordination is annoying. My body clearly doesn’t understand who pays the bills around here, the ingrate. Why can’t he just cooperate? Geez.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Not long back someone told my son that he had to eat at a local Mexican restaurant. It was near where he worked, and they could not understand why he hadn’t already been there. So, we went. I, being the rational one, sometimes, was careful in what I ordered. It was our first visit and I had no idea what to expect. Obviously neither did he by what he ordered. They brought out enough food to feed a small army. He, having ordered this meal, that consisted of an array of plates and bowls that nearly covered the table, felt that he had to eat it all. He did make a valiant effort, but had to surrender and ask for to go boxes. There was still a good bit left, even of my chicken dish but we carried it all home, and he finished it off over the course of that evening and the next day. He really enjoyed the food, but learned to be a tiny bit more careful in his ordering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mind ordering too much food, accidentally or otherwise. Should there be any leftovers, I will happily take them home. And if anyone else at my table has bonus food and they don’t want it, I will take it. I’m THAT guy. It’s not a penny-pinching thing. It’s a belief that with all the hunger in the world, no food should be wasted. I will make those leftovers work, somehow. I realize I’m not directly helping those in need, but if I don’t waste, then there’s more food somewhere, for somebody.

      My personal issue is that I need to stop eating like a wild boar. Slow down, savor everything, and stop at the first sign of potential capacity overload. I think my rapid-eating is the result of my childhood, when we didn’t have a lot of money, and you learned to eat fast or there would be nothing left. Old habits do die hard…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I happily bring food home. Especially when we go to one of the places that still believe in giving plenty.
        I tend to eat quickly but it is because of working at the place for so many years where you technically only had two ten and one twenty minute break. If you are going to eat enough, you need to eat quickly. I’m getting better but old habits are difficult to break.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Just don’t eat the leftovers! I know it’s hard, being retired and all, to throw away food, but if it needs exorcising, it’s not worth keeping! I feel your retirement pain–that’s why I took a part-time job so I could keep myself in the lifestyle I’d become accustomed to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. I’m all about toting home leftovers and not wasting anything. (Save the planet!) But if something causes my body to go into a full-on Linda Blair tribute dance, I’m not putting any more of that something in my mouth.

      I’ve been contemplating a part-time job for a while now. I have enough in my retirement funds to get by, but I’d like to do more than just that. On the flip side, I haven’t worked at a “real” job for over 7 years. I just don’t know if I can do it again… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Two words for when the tum is rumbling because you’ve a) put too much in the pie hole and sir stomach master is not going to stand for that. Nosir. b) you’ve put a foreign substance in the pie hole and sir stomach is not going to take that lying down. SITTING down is mandatory at some point in the whole scene. Two words: Alka Seltzer. Tepid water. Sip slowly and let the gas games begin. That overfull feeling is trapped gas mostly as I understand it and a good loud (noise is optional) fart or belch will bring a wee ray of instant relief. Hey it works for me!

    Of course these days ol’ lady liver has jumped on the “I’m going to fail BIG TIME and I’m making life miserable for YOU as much as possible until my departure.” So eating is tricky because everything tastes weird and nothing likes sticking around for long either way.

    Alka Seltzer is a no-no for diabetics, but the choice between feeling like if someone stuck a pin in you, you’d burst or violating the sanctity of diabetic law is a no-brainer. Maybe you’ve already discovered this, The lengths we’ll go to to have just the PERFECT food….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya. My go-to is Gas-X, and not just the “standard” version. I get the “ultimate” version that has something like 27 times the power of the standard. Of course, that increase in power comes at a premium price, so I’m surprised they don’t keep it in a secure vault in the bowels of the pharmacy. But it has certainly saved my life a number of times and I would happily appear in an infomercial, claiming such…

      On the flip side, once that magic pill kicks in, the resulting release out of my various orifices is so profound that air-raid sirens have gone off. You take the good, you take the bad…

      As for Alka-Seltzer, for some reason it does nothing for me, gas-wise. Not sure why. But they do have a “cold and flu” version that works wonders and I always have stock on hand. I don’t know what the magical ingredient is, but I’m glad it’s there…


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