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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Caveman Couple Dine Alone

June 27, 2011

I am an easygoing guy. I rarely get mad. Though when I do, I usually choose the healthy path and internalize it.

I’m also pretty good about minding my own business. If someone outside of my scope of friends and family wants to be an idiot, I have no problem letting them follow that chosen path. Actually, I have been known to cheer morons on as they stumble down the toll road to stupidity.

Occasionally, the idiots get the best of me.

The other day, I was eating sushi with my wife. It was a nice lunch, just the two of us. The 14-year old was not there asking to be driven somewhere, or to be taken on a shopping excursion to fill her already-full closet.

The 10-year old wasn’t across the table with one of his loud electronic gadgets. I never once used the words, “Stop doing that!” or “Turn that down!” It seems that no matter how many gadgets I confiscate from him in one sitting, he manifests another one. One would think he stashes gaming devices in his underwear, but we can’t get him to wear underwear.

No one was complaining about the choice of restaurant and I never once used the phrase, “Why did you order that if you’re not going to eat it?”

It was a pleasant and peaceful adult meal, with mature conversation. Sometimes, there was no verbal exchange at all. The two of us have been together for 23 years. We are the caveman couple. We can have an entire conversation using nothing more than grunts, shrugs, and hand signals.

All was well. Life was grand. There was peace in the valley and raw fish in my belly.

To my left was a table of teenage girls. They were quiet, too. No one was talking because all four of them were texting. It turns out they were texting each other.

Typically, I would spend a few minutes here ranting about teenager’s texting. But I won’t because they were being quiet. Besides, they never once complained about the guttural growls, violent hand gestures, and primitive stick figures being drawn on the wall over at our table.

On this day, my beef was with the table on the other side of us. For the first half of the meal, a woman was sitting alone. She, too, was texting. But she was minding her business, so she gets a pass. In fact, she was probably texting the four teenagers wondering why the couple at table 23 was roasting a Wooly Mammoth tableside.

Halfway though our meal another woman joined the single lady. It was around this time that the idiots got the best of me.

She sat down and pulled a huge bag from McDonald’s out of her purse. My wife looked at me with her most intense just-ignore-it look, gave me a few warning snorts, and kicked me under the table. I gave her the go-back-to-your-cave-drawings grunt.

I have no problem with McDonald’s. I ate a cup of their oatmeal just before typing this column. No. I have a problem with people bringing outside food into restaurants. It drives me mad. I don’t care if it’s for the kids, just go somewhere and eat with your kids, or have a full-scale brawl like my family does when trying to decide where to eat. Everyone might wind up at the restaurant bloody, bruised, and bandaged but you’ll be in a place where everyone can order off of the same menu.

My face was probably way past red and headed towards a deeper shade of purple, when I realized that this 40-year old McIdiot had no kids in tow. This was a big bag of McDonalds for HER.

She pulled out two huge cheeseburgers and a monstrous order of fries to go with her large soft drink. She didn’t even have the courtesy to order a drink from the restaurant. I was spewing sushi and hurling eye daggers by the time she ended her meal with one of those apple turnovers.

Note to all idiots: If you don’t like sushi, never agree to meet your friend in a sushi restaurant. Better yet, order the teriyaki.

Note to friends of idiots: If your nimrod lunch companion brings a giant bag of fast food to your lunch meeting in a full-service restaurant, you need to meet new people.

Note to all restaurant patrons: If the couple sitting next to you is communicating through grunts, shrugs, and hand gestures, just ignore them. Chalk it up to 23 years of wedded bliss.

Blueberry-Peach Shortcake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbl sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbl baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash

1/4 cup sugar
4-5 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 pint blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend in the butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, sour cream and vanilla extract and quickly add to the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. Do not overmix. The dough will be sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough out 3/4-inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough.

Cut biscuits with a 2 3/4-inch cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outsides are crisp and the insides are fully baked. Let cool on a wire rack.

While the biscuits are baking, combine the 1/4 cup of sugar with the sliced peaches and lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

Split each shortcake in half crosswise and place the bottom half on a plate. Place a small amount of the peach mixture atop each biscuit bottom. Place one scoop of ice cream on the peaches and spoon the remaining peaches over the ice cream. Place the biscuit top over the filled bottom half and sprinkle each shortcake with 2-3 tablespoons of fresh blueberries, serve immediately. Yield: 6-8 servings

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