Somewhere along the way, nanna (my dad's mom) invented something called "city chicken". The origins and ingredients have never been totally clear to me. It's chicken? pork? beef? some combination of all three? I think it was her creation but honestly it could have been a 50s staple - I really have no idea.
Family history aside, mom and I had a different spin on "city chicken" last night, which is to say the "sasso chicken for two" which was brought to us on a flaming bed of hay. My eyes were watering and I thought the restaurant might be on fire when I saw the bubble of smoke coming towards us; our waiter was wearing a jumpsuit and looked like a prison guard serving time as he carried it forth on a little funeral pyre towards our table.
We were at Le Turtle on Chrystie St., nestled behind the waxy leaves of a lil tropical plant, drinking Pinot Noir and discussing an upcoming fam trip to Santa Barbara when it appeared. I had looked forward to din at Le Turtle and it didn't disappoint - the chicken was deliciously moist (if a little macabre with its toe nails hanging off the plate), the romaine salad was almost Jurassic with its shaved parmesan and exquisitely salty sardine emulsion and the ice cream was a perfect finish (two scoops mint and chocolate with sea salt, thank you very much). The ice cream also lent itself to another family tale I had never heard before: apparently mom and her father, my beloved grandfather HPP, used to eat "Drakes cakes" and milk for breakfast. Like every day. Now my grandfather is the picture of a (disciplined) gentleman - the guy flies for 12 hours and shows up at Charles De Gaulle airport without the hint of a crease in his khakis, he reads everything, he rides a bike like Lance Armstrong and he wells up during yogurt commercials. The man is a fcking prince but he's not the type of dude I would expect to be feeding his child cupcakes for breakfast everyday. So you can imagine my delight to learn that my mother lived off of hostess minis for a decade.
Family lore aside, I enjoyed every min of the meal if the restaurant itself was a little odd. It felt like an installation, like maybe the guy sitting at the bar with his bike chain on his pants didn't really know what steak was, like the waiters were all actors but they weren't off duty - they were actually on stage right then and there. There was something performative about the atmosphere - even the mirror in the bathroom (black as night with a hint of reflective tint) felt like Alice in Wonderland's powder room. But mom and I always kinda feed off of each other, no matter the atmosphere, and agreed that life is about big appetites and reading and friendship and doing whatever the fuck you want - no one gets me more than that woman (except for maybe my sis, of course - and it's her bday tomorrow!).
I put mom in an uber around 10:30 and headed back downtown on Houston, excited about the breeze and fall and reading books under comforters. Simple pleasures, y'all.