I was mixing up a pan of Mr. Dell's Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole and looking out the window at a gorgeous Midwestern fall day, when I was reminded of something The Little Princess said:
“I feel sorry for people who don't live in the Midwest. They've never had Puppy Chow. Or Scotcheroos.” (She also feels sorry for people who live in Australia because, apparently, they don't have the pop-n-fresh, “whomp biscuit,” canned-type cinnamon rolls. On the other hand, she says they call McDonald's “Macca's”, so . . . point for them.)
As I layered the cheesy with the potatoes, I wondered if this was strictly a Midwestern thing. There's a good chance it is, and if so, I feel sorry for everyone outside the Midwest who has never had the warm, gooey, cheesy, delicious, comfort-food goodness of hash brown casserole (or puppy chow, or scotcheroos).
And then I wondered what equally gooey, cheesy or chocolaty, delicious, comfort-food they might be enjoying that I have never tried.
And that reminded me of a quick trip we recently made to Madison, Wisconsin, for a wedding. From the interstate, all the metropolitan areas we by-passed looked alike – at least if you use restaurants as a point of reference.
There is a certain comfort in the familiar, a certain relief in uniform sameness, a feeling of safety that comes with sticking with what we know. When traveling, I – more often than not – eat at the chain restaurant nearest the hotel, rather than trying something new.
But . . . .
Where's the adventure in that? Where's the excitement of trying new things, of developing new tastes, of meeting new people? Where's the thrill of a new experience? The exposure to new ideas?
Comfortable conformity is all well and good, but when it is all, is it still good?
I could count on one hand the number of new restaurants closer to home that I have tried during the last year. What's worse, I tend to order the same thing every time I go to one of our familiar, “go to” restaurants – even when I swear I'm going to try something new. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I wonder what might I be missing. (Granted, not all my “new” restaurant experiences have been winners, but still . . . .)
Old habits are hard to break. New things can be hard to try, whether they are new foods or new points of view. But maybe there's more to life than hash brown casserole and puppy chow.
Maybe I need to potluck more
Maybe we all do.