here’s a train of associations which i hopefully will be able to communicate with sufficient clarity:
nothing is my bread and butter. rather, bread and butter and bread and butter only are my bread and butter. as a figure of speech the relationship breaks down, because of a so visceral reaction to the taste of (warm, probably white) bread and butter, the root of which i only unearthed now.
Pat’s Rose & Grey was the only restaurant i can remember my parents taking me to as a child. there must have been others (there was, sorry – King’s Palace, which i remember as a murk of fake waterfalls, all-you-can eat sweet & sour spare ribs, egg rolls, and jello), although probably not many, my parents being as they were very diy nigh-hippy types, but Pat’s is all i can really recall. by which i mean that they had complimentary breadsticks, and breadsticks were somehow my favourite food. i always wanted to go to Pat’s and i only ever wanted their breadsticks. i don’t remember the rest of the food, any particular events or occasions, their decor (perhaps it was dim?), only breadsticks. breadsticks and butter. not the hard crumbly breadsticks, but warm, soft miniature loaves, i suppose, that are nestled in my brainstem amidst associations of comfort and total gustatory absorption.
(like how through the haze of my hangover last week, the “bottomless” bread at East Side Mario’s made it seem like everything might actually be okay, an impression which dissolved rapidly amidst the linguini alfredo and Worst Daquiris Ever that followed)
Pat’s Rose & Grey became the Island Rock Cafe, in whose kitchen i got my first job (dishpig, hired on the spot, worked for 9 1/2 hours. there was a maggot episode which i’d rather not get into), and outside of which i can remember standing in the rain, 14 years old, listening, rapt, to my father’s band covering “Moondance,” before shuffling off to eat Fritos in the parkade alone (Fritos were magic, somehow, improbably suited to rallying my spirits in my middle adolescence. another taste which still takes me back. i like salt. a lot.)
the Island Rock Cafe became Brennan’s, in whose kitchen i worked prep for the first time, was disburdened of my distrust of mushrooms by a short, soft-tempered cook’s roasting of their stems with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, and first heard and understood the expression “jailbait.” in whose walk-in cooler, further, i first heard and identified with Morrissey’s “looking for a job and then i found a job, and heaven knows i’m miserable now.”
potent associations with the space dwindle in the intervening years, and i heard when i was home last week that it’s closed and sold, and the new owners are ripping out all the old interior – marble bar, wrought iron and venetian arcade affectations, rumours of an impending transformation into a dance bar for aging single ladies.
i can’t say i’ll miss it, really, but i can imagine a time in the distant future when i walk by it and am all like, “hunh.”
they also had baked spaghetti. i remember liking that a lot.