I don’t want to be boring anymore.
There are people in this world who do the same thing, day after day, never changing their routine. How dare you disrupt their regular routine? How dare you suggest that they try something new?
I used to be one of those people.
I understand that you may know what you like, so why change it? I’ve been there. I’ve gone to restaurants and ordered the same meal every time. I’ve gone to the same place on vacation, maybe not every single year, but most years. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s safe.
Sometimes you need to see the world beyond your four walls. Living in West Mifflin my entire life, with the exception of my 2 years in University Park for college, I know how it feels to have to go beyond the “four walls” of the West Mifflin-Whitaker-Duquesne area. I know how daunting it may seem to even cross a bridge just to go to a restaurant, or to go shopping, or even to just to visit someone across town (like, in the North Hills – it’s SO FAR! 2 different bridges!), when everything that you could ever need – food, stores, friends – are all within a few miles.
A prime example of this is my dad. We (meaning my whole family) love the food at Pido’s Pub in Munhall – but my dad gets the same thing every time: mushroom cheesesteak, no onions, no mayo, and homemade potato chips with Shirley sauce.
This stuck-in-a-rut routine was more obvious when I went on vacation with my parents this past summer to Ocean City, MD - spend the first half of the day on the beach, shower, relax in the condo for a bit, go to dinner, maybe go somewhere else for a bit, sit on the balcony at the condo, go to bed.
I was pretty adamant about breaking this routine at some point. My mom had wanted to go parasailing last year with my cousin (I wasn’t with them then), but he backed out, so I told my mom that I would go with her this year. I kept pushing the issue, so my mom told me to just call and book it. I did, and while I was asking if someone could ride in the boat without parasailing, my dad said that he would parasail, too.
Did he enjoy himself? Judge for yourself…
So did my mom and I, for that matter…
So when I went to Mallorca on East Carson Street in the South Side this past Wednesday, I told myself to get something other than paella. I don’t go to Mallorca too often – maybe once a year, if that – mostly because it’s so expensive. I did have a CBS Local Offer to use, where I paid $15 and received a $30 gift certificate, so that helped with defraying some of the cost of my meal – but I didn’t want to be lame and order the Paella Valenciana like I do every single time I go there, just because I like it. And it’s familiar. And it’s comfortable. And it’s safe.
TF (remember, from our trip to The Strip District?) was my companion for the evening again, since we still had so much to catch up on, now that we don’t teach in the same building. She was already there when I arrived, and we chose to sit afuera (outside), since it was a nice evening.
Mallorca has awesome bread - crusty (in a good way) on the outside, soft on the inside. We tore it up…
After perusing the menu (not like I hadn’t already looked online), she decided on the Camarones Fritos (fried shrimp) and I chose the Mariscada (clams, shrimp, lobster tail, and mussels in a slightly spicy Spanish brandy and wine sauce – for the record, alcohol burns off when it’s cooked, so calm down, kids).
We were first served simple green leaf salads with a dressing that I can’t even describe – it tasted kind of like a Catalina dressing.
When our food arrived, I was given an aluminum pot filled with the seafood, covered with the sauce. Mmmm, it looked delicious. The server ladled some into a bowl for me.
Then, more things were laid out in front of me – a bowl for my seafood shells (of course), saffron rice (hey, like in the paella!), vegetables sautéed with garlic, and…whoa…homemade potato chips?! Like the ones at Pido’s?!
My meal was great, and it was almost just like the Paella Valenciana, minus the chicken and chorizo, but plus the spicy sauce, which made it even better.
Hey, I was adventurous, and it worked out! My hope is that throughout this project, you have moments like this, too – taking a chance on a new food, or menu item, or restaurant, or even neighborhood, and being pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoyed it.
Who knows? Maybe that adventurousness will transfer into other aspects of your life, too…like trying out parasailing…
2228 E. Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
1129 Ravine Street
Munhall, PA 15120