Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sticking My Hand in the Tip Jar

I'm a big Seinfeld fan. I love the show and the antics of the characters crack me up. George Costanza is Jerry Seinfeld's bumbling friend. George doesn't always make the wisest decisions, but he is somewhat lovable anyway. One episode, George is at one of his favorite cafes picking up a calzone. On the counter by the cash register, there is a large tip jar. Every time George goes into the cafe he drops a few bucks into the tip jar. The problem is each time George drops in the cash, the guy behind the counter has his head turned and doesn't see George dropping in the money, leaving George feeling disgruntled because he wants credit for the tip. It isn't good enough for George that he did the right thing and dropped the money into the jar if no one witnesses it. On one of George's visits to the cafe, he drops in a nice tip, and of course the guy behind the counter doesn't see it. George wants a do-over, so he reaches into the jar, pulls out the money he had just put in, in hopes of dropping the same tip in a second time and having the cashier witness his act of kindness. The only problem was that the man behind the counter caught George with his hand in the tip jar, thought he was stealing, and proceeded to kick George permanently out of the cafe.

That is kind of how I felt tonight. I wanted to stick my hand back in the tip jar so I could get a do over...minus getting kicked out of the restaurant. Since our town isn't very diverse, I have to go looking for diversity. I decided this week I was going to take the kids to a fantastic restaurant in town that is famous for their Memphis style hot wings. My son calls their hot wings a "celebration on a bone." Even better, the restaurant is owned and operated by an African-American family. I've never been in this restaurant when there wasn't a crowd. The husband is usually in the back cooking, his wife is usually at the cash register, and their kids are serving and bussing tables. Bring on the diversity, baby!

Keep in mind...I'm there for dinner, but I'm also there because I want to make our lives a little more diverse.

Well, we got there and the husband was behind the counter. It would have been nice if the wife were behind the counter, because she interacts and banters with my daughter, but that's okay. As food starts to come out, the restaurant owner's daughter is delivering food to every table but ours. We are waiting patiently. All of a sudden, I see this man...a white man...headed our way with a tray full of food. The white man sets the food on our table and walks off. Seriously?! I have never seen a white person working in this restaurant...ever! And when I am there for the purpose of diversifying our lives I get a white man! No offense white man, but that wasn't really what I was hoping for.

If I hadn't been so completely stuffed I would have pulled a "Costanza," drug the kids back up to the counter, reordered, and sat at a different table in hopes of getting a new server. I wanted a do over! I know it is the thought that counts, so maybe I should just add points to my mama scorecard for taking my daughter to a somewhat diverse restaurant, but I somehow don't feel like I get credit for the "tip" if I didn't get my full dose of diversity.

I guess I could have wait...demanded my food be delivered by a black person. But that might have led to my permanent expulsion from our one diverse restaurant. Not that I would have blamed them for kicking out a crazed woman demanding a black waitress. However being somewhat prudent (and sane), I chose  to pack up our leftovers and pledged to return another day. By the way...I left a nice tip!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Soul Food = Yummy Goodness!

For a while, I've been planning on preparing a soul food dinner for my family so my daughter could try some food from her culture. Well the soul food night has happened!

Although I do enjoy starches, carbs, sugars, and grease. I am much more of a baked fish, brown rice, and salad with a little balsamic vinegar kind of a girl. I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, but I typically don't cook fried foods, collard greens, or grits. Since I was cooking a little bit out of my element and I was planning on preparing a lot of food, I recruited the help of my cousin, my cousin's daughter, my mom, my aunt, and my oldest daughter.

We cooked for hours. The kitchen was a disaster. The countertops were covered in flour, batter, and grease. The floors matched the mess of the countertops...times 10. However, the smells of cobbler, cornbread, and chicken frying made me completely overlook the mess, carbs, and calories we had before us. The six of us crowded into my kitchen as we cooked, listened to Motown, debated the best way to tackle a recipe, taste-tested, talked, and laughed.

When dinner was complete our families crowded around the long dining table, It was a beautiful sight to behold...fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, grits, collard greens, cornbread, sweet potatoes, egg pie, and fresh peach cobbler.

Throughout the day, I talked to my youngest daughter about soul food. Even though she wasn't completely sure what soul food was or why we were having it, she was very pleased at the prospect of having "chicken on the bone." 

The meal was a huge success in many ways. We had the old favorites like fried chicken and cornbread, but some new things thrown into the mix like the collards and grits. We all tried a little bit of everything even those things that were a little sketchy...still not sure I like the egg pie. My cousin's face when she tried the collard greens told me she probably wouldn’t cook those again!

But the best part of all was the togetherness, the joy of having all of us the kitchen, trying new recipes, laughing, sharing stories, and as my cousin said making our soul food together was a great way to "make memories."

Before we dug into the food, my youngest daughter, that led us to this path of discovery, said the prayer..."Thank you for our soul food," which for me...said it all!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dominicans Are Adding to My Confusion!

I have been struggling with these zombie-like dark circles lately, so I decided to get a makeover. I went into a large department store (not in my town) and the makeup artist assigned to help conceal these circles was named, Yvonne. Through conversation, I learned that Yvonne was half African-American and half Filipino. We talked about all kinds of things as I sat there...what I was doing wrong with my makeup (ugh!), our kids, and adoption. 

As I was finishing up, Yvonne's co-worker, Tamara, reported to work. Tamara appeared to be a very light skinned, African-American woman. Come to find out, she was Dominican. As she walked around the counter, I caught a glimpse of her hair. Beautiful!! Exactly how I would like my daughter's hair to look. She wore her hair down and curly. It wasn't an Afro, more like borderline ringlets. I guess this wasn't a typical hairstyle for her because her coworkers were going on and on about how much they liked her hair curly.

At the sight of Tamara, I said..."I love your hair! My adopted daughter is African-American, how do I get her hair to look like yours?!" Well, that started an entire conversation about what type of hair my daughter has, how to get it looking like Tamara's, hair products, cultural differences in styles...I guess Dominican's don't wear braids...and more! By this time, Yvonne had entered the hair discussion, too.

Both women were in agreement; I must find a Dominican hair salon for my daughter. That was the best thing for her. "Dominican's are the best!"

Hummm....that puts a whole new twist on things...could my daughter possibly wear her hair down and curly? Could the Dominicans teach me a thing or two about hair products? What makes Dominicans the experts on Black hair care? And most importantly....Where are on earth can I find a Dominican hair salon?

I began researching Dominican hair salons as soon as I got home. Come to find out, there are no Dominican Salons within 300 miles of me. Not a complete surprise. But I also learned, Dominican hair salons are considered good because they are cheaper than the traditional African-American salons. Because of the Dominican's style techniques, a style lasts longer, and the Dominicans use a blow out method that involves a "round brush." The brush makes all of the difference! Supposedly after a good "blow out," the hair is bouncy and blows in the wind!

Well I supposed I won't be driving to a Dominican hair salon anytime soon. However, the ladies at the makeup counter did give me a list of hair products I should try, so I will start there. Even though my investigating did not lead to a Dominican hair salon, I did get Yvonne's number if I should have any hair questions, some hair advice which is always appreciated, and I look a little less zombie-like now that my circles are nicely covered!