Business Lunch

That blissful hour in the middle of the nine to five, where lady professionals meet to eat. Ragers by night and assistants by day, this page is devoted to making a record of the sumptuous details of our break from the cubicle.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alls in the Foodily

After yesterday's Hearty Satisfaction with lunch, Karina and I ventured out to try to repeat our luck. Stopping first at the Sprint store (boo), we had time to collect our appetitious thoughts and after admitting a craving for peanut noodles, Karina recalled a Thai carryout place on 18th street where we could get exactly that. So after purchasing a new charger for my phone, we headed westerly, in the direction of what we hoped would be a fresh take on our by now beaten lunch path.

The place is called the Pad Thai Shack. Not terribly original, but their menu was much more enlightened. They have hot and cold, small and large morsels ranging in price from three to eight dollars. And the boy working there was adorable, glasses and all. I enjoyed Pad Thai with tofu and extra peanut sauce and Karina got a peanuty, buckwheat noodle salad. Eaten in the solace and comfort of our flourescent break room. But it was all as it should be. Exactly right. dare we try for overwhelming lunchtime delight tomorrow too? Three days running? Perhaps Thanksgiving is the new New Year? Stay tuned.

good dogs

Thanks to some magical electric spark in the fabric of time, Karina, Mary and I all arrived at The Good Dog within seconds of each other. Our previous and only other business lunch at this fine establishment occured on the eve of my monthlong excursion to most points north and west of Philadelphia, back in the giddy days of Emily's membership in Lunch Club and smoke-filled barrooms. Today we sat at a booth towards the back, ordered beer and more beer from a deliteful lady with Shirley Temple locks, and watched as the number of bar patrons diminished from twelve or so to just us three in the blink of an eye. A surprisingly appropriate Rolling Stones mix was playing, not too loudly for once in our lives.
Most business lunches the nation over must be consumed with talk of Thanksgiving these days, and ours was no exception. Mary had just returned the night before from Wisconsin, where the men are bearded and Republican, the women drink too much, and the fourteen year olds get cars before they get driver's licenses. Her apparent exasperation with all things family-related made me even more proud and glad that I had spent the holiday, along with Karina, in the family-less realm of Durham, North Carolina, and even more insistent that I never spend another Thanksgiving day with my family, much as I do love the folks. Seriously, once you've spent Thanksgiving night eating free turkey and mashed potatoes in a bar and impulsively rearranging the letters on a McDonald's sign to say something both lewd and nonsensical, you'll never want to go back to watching your drunk relatives embarrass themselves and stating, over and over again that no, you do not have a boyfriend.
Mary ate a half salad whose gigantic side made me shudder to think at the enormity that must be the full salad. Lettuce, arugula, feta, cranberries, really a quite delicious thing indeed. Karina and I shared the Good Dog's infamous mac 'n' cheese, which comes bubbling primordially in a crockpot with flaky cereal sprinkled atop and a slab of blueberry cornbread on the side. I had another beer and didn't finish it.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Today, the strong, colorful flavors of Kennedy Food Garden called. And we answered.

Kate went for their herbed brie sandwich, while Karina and I split the Health. Flavor and dripping condiments all around. Excessive toppings: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers. Kate stacked her extra cucumbers next to her pickles, a sassy display.

Most of our fellow lunchers today were 65+. They make for charming company, really. Quiet, but seasoned. A pair of older gentlemen sat at the table behind us and caught our attention by nearly leaving a tip. We noticed the bill sitting amidst their many plates and cups on the table, and it made us wonder whether all this time we had misunderstood the cryptic etiquette of the Garden and been shafting our hosts. (Upon closer inspection, it must have been a mistake because after they'd gone, the dollar was nowhere to be seen) They bumbled a bit, one of them with the aid of a walker and the other in a maroon velour sweatsuit, out into the day. This little square of the city is rife with the elderly. Rumor has it that Kennedy sits below an entire tower where they all live, in a vertical deposit for the city's grandparents and great grandparents.

It always makes me a little sad to think that people sleep at night knowing their elder versions live on this busy street in Center City. An area where I, for one, wouldn't walk alone at night. We joke that Center City is more dangerous than West Philadelphia after dark, because crazy people abound and there is no semblance of a community to speak of. The buildings are no shorter than ten stories high, the sidewalks are wide and the streets are much wider. Now that the days mean darkness by five, the facelessness startles you.

Aging has long given me pause, beginning when I was very small and far from death. I used to say I wanted to die by 55. Now that my own father is older than that, I've changed my mind, but these shells of people, cooped up in their own bodies still give me chills. Husbands push wives in wheelchairs and unlikely friends keep one another company. One man stoops to half his height. They stand for the time and the things they've seen in my mind. But the vivacity is gone. Still, this sadness and decay is something for which I have great reverence. Like an excellent novel or an important photograph. The constant juxtaposition of these people at the culmination of their lives against the harsh skyscrapers and business lunchers of JFK Boulevard makes a girl think over her sandwich in the middle of the day. It also makes her count her luckies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Weeks and Weeks

Good Lord!

We've been absent for quite a while. I realize some of you may have decided that you were sick of waiting around for us and have found some other lunching mavens to follow. For those of you who still regularly check, hoping that one of us has found time to write, thank you, thank you and thank you.

Lunches themselves have grown further and far between, and with them, lunching ladies have also lunched less often. I for one, have begun skipping lunches to catch up on hours. My Tuesdays and Thursdays are now just half, because of an internship with Fabric Horse. Which means often no lunching at all, let alone blogging about it.

Today though, today. If you haven't heard, global warming is in full effect here in the Philadelphia metropolitan region, temperatures in mid November have stayed in the upper 60's and even 70's. There were a few cold weeks, and we've had a share of rain, but no credible threats of snow or sleet, those, you know, typical meteorological patterns associated with the coldest of the fall months. But to coincide with the recent election in our fair country, wherein a healthy number of Republicans were both outed and ousted from office, this month's unnatural warmth is only further proof of the ridiculous logic of the former ruling party. Global warming is real, George. Just like the heap of trouble you're about to find yourself in.

So in light of the (I'll admit) pleasant forecast, we lunched in the park! The birds were frantically chirping and chasing one another in a rather aggressive swarm that startled each of the park's lunching ensembles, in turn. The leaves were falling into our food. It was lovely. I've recently taken to ordering a twist on the Philly sushi roll from the Sushi Restaurant next to Secret Park: avocado, asparagus and cream cheese. Mmm. Karina ordered a spider roll (eel, shrimp and avocado, for those of you, who like me, had no idea). Kate stuck to her guns: the mediterranean wrap (just half) from dibruno brothers.

But we didn't even really talk about the food (except for when I choked on the miso in my soup twice!, and we subsequently commented on how it wasn't really very good miso anyway). Rather, we discussed the art classes at Fleisher and our varying degrees of satisfaction/compelledness to continue attending. Kate and I are each currently enrolled (Intro. to Drawing and Sculpture, respectively) and find them to be charming additions to our lives. I, however, also rue the loss of Wednesday evenings, a time to regroup and clean my room. And as glamorous as being a sculptress may sound, so far I have only a ceramic fennel bulb to show for my toils. And each week, it loses a limb. I just need to have something to show for those hours of meticulous carving and shaving and rotating, call me crazy.

Karina is going to take cello lessons after the holiday. And (fingers crossed) her grandmother might pay for them! Related to this, she is in the market for an 18 inch chair on which to sit while she plays her if you come across one, let a girl know.

We left early, Kate to relieve her sick boss, and Karina and I to window shop our way back to the office.