Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blue Plate Special

Some old-fashioned grub

Tonight I prepared a blue plate special for our evening meal. Having grown up in the Baltimore-Washington area, which abounded with diners, I decided to cook up a favorite dish that was a steady staple of those venerable culinary institutions of yesteryear: the open-faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. In Baltimore it always came with french fries topped with brown gravy but in the DC area is was always whips (we were a little more Southern, I guess) unless you specifically requested otherwise.

The decline of diners in most of the country, with the exception of the Northeast, has been a sad thing to watch because they were always such warm and friendly places to soak up some atmosphere as well enjoy good strong java and hearty delicious stick-to-your-ribs food.

I remember moving to Los Angeles in 1979 and being awed by the spectacular 24-hour coffee shops such as Googies, Norms, Zucky's, Ships, Penguin and Johnnies. The architecture was cool and very space age L.A. and the atmosphere was laid back and friendly. The menus were usually about three feet tall and contained six to eight glossy pages. In those sleek glass and tile palaces you could also get open faced roast beef and taters as well as avocado burgers and the best triple-decker clubs you ever ate at three in the morning. Unfortunately that era of Los Angeles history has quickly faded away, with almost all of the original coffee shops having been either torn down or put to other uses. Maybe one day I'll write a book about it all.

A classic Norm's from the 1950's

It was fun reminiscing with my step-daughter at dinner tonight about blue plate specials and the good old days of diners, a period of history that now seems distant and remote. I miss those good old days but am pleased and thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy and now happily remember a time that was.


Audie said...

Beamis said: Maybe one day I'll write a book about it all.

Put me down for one.

Eva said...

Sign me up, too. Or for anything else you happen to publish, like your photos, memoirs, hell! Anything!
See you soon, my friend.

Devastatin' Dave said...

My pathetic excuse for a hometown has always had trouble keeping decent restaurants. The one exception is a diner on Main St. called Johnny Dell's. Great open-faced roast beef.