Tag Archives: comfort

My Comfort Food of the Fifties

Pineapple & Cottage Cheese

Pineapple Chunks and Cottage Cheese – Lots of Juice

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley during the 1950s, a time many have suggested was idyllic here in the U.S. While we know that’s far from the truth, it was a time when we didn’t lock our doors and kids were allowed to stay out past dark; at least in Panorama City, where I lived. I traveled between our house and my friend’s house around the other side of our block not by sidewalk, but by cinder block fences and back yards.

It was, indeed, a much simpler time; if not in general, at least for a kid. Or so it seems to me. I don’t recall parents being worried about pedophiles or kidnapping or one of dozens of concerns expressed by today’s parents. In fact, most adults I came into contact with wanted the kids out of the house; the more frequently and longer the better. Kids were, after all, better seen than heard and the best way to keep them quiet was to send them away, preferably outdoors.

I got to thinking about this because yesterday I treated myself to one of my oldest comfort foods, which also reminded me of just how simple some things were. My comfort food – this particular one, that is – consists of two ingredients: Pineapple chunks and cottage cheese. I did change them a wee tad, due to the needs of my diet and the availability of items that didn’t exist back then. I used pineapple in its own juice instead of heavy syrup and low-fat cottage cheese instead of plain old whole milk cottage cheese.


Franco-American Spaghetti

Seasoned ground beef mixed with this stuff made for one happy boy back then.

I was in heaven and made three substantial servings out of the can of pineapple and the tub of cottage cheese I purchased. It’s gone, and I’m sated. I find myself now thinking about another comfort food – also pedestrian by current standards – that I enjoyed as I was growing up back then. My mother used to brown a pound of ground meat, seasoning it with lots of garlic powder, then mix it in with a can of Franco-American Spaghetti. I introduced my oldest daughter to it a while back and, in the process, managed to raise my blood pressure dramatically due to the very high salt content of the spaghetti.

Regardless, she loved it and I’ll probably do it again . . . I just won’t eat so much, or so I’m telling myself.

I have other favorite comfort foods – good, garlicky kosher pickles for one, but these two are biggies, and they really do bring me a modicum of comfort; perhaps especially because I can’t indulge in them very often any longer. I don’t mean to sound like a marketer here, fishing for comments, but I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s favorite comfort foods. I’m sure there’s a huge variety.

Paying Homage to the Automobile

My 1967 Camaro

My 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396

So . . . blog posts should have substance, should they not? They should tackle thorny issues and momentous decisions; social policy and government actions that affect us all. I’m sorry to say this one just doesn’t fill the bill. There’s nothing momentous about it at all. In fact, part of it is a commercial for Chevrolet, though that isn’t the reason I’m including it here.

I was born in downtown Los Angeles and raised in the San Fernando Valley. As is true with many of us native Angelenos, I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the automobile. My very first car was a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air. It had a 3-speed manual transmission, and the previous owner had transitioned the shifter from the steering column to the floor. It was a dream car, but for one flaw. It was a four-door. Still, I was only 16 and it was truly something special.

I’ve only had one new car in my life. A 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396. Actually, if I remember correctly it was leased to the business my father had bought for me. I only owned the car for about six months, because I decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my what at that point was a very short life working about 15 hours a day. The business was mine for about eight months. It was somewhat of a disaster as my father ended up having to sell it at a substantial loss. I didn’t realize just how much it mattered until, years later, I did a time-value of money calculation. I was an idiot. I chalk it up to youth, naiveté, and incredible stupidity. The Summer of Love may have had something to do with it as well, but that’s another story.

As the years went by I came to view automobiles primarily as conveyances to and from locations that were important to me. Creature comfort was nice, but much of it not absolutely necessary. I was in no way invested emotionally in my cars and, over the years I’ve had plenty of them. In my late twenties, when I was in Law School, I worked for a lawyer whose practice involved representing three of the largest car rental agencies in town. I drove everything from a Porsche 914 to a Mercedes 450 SL. They were fun, but I never once wished they were mine.

At any rate, this video was sent to me by an old friend from High School. We are only a few years away from our 50th reunion, so it’s been a long time . . . and some of us have stayed in touch. He, being an old man like me, still shares most everything via email (unlike me). I was moved by the story and, even though this is around a year old and is a commercial for Chevy, the story is moving and I thought I would share it. You might get a kick out of it. I did. The car sounds awesome.

For Restaurants Engagement Has Always Been on the Menu


Make it so!

Everyone and her aunt – at least those in the social media world – is talking about engagement nowadays. For instance, just a few weeks ago Brian Solis posted “The Rules of Social Media Engagement” on his blog. Ten days ago, Laurel Papworth wrote “7 Levels of Social Media Engagement” at socialmediatoday. Way back in January of 2010 Jason Falls wrote a rather scathing review of the concept in social media explorer entitled “What is Engagement And How Do We Measure it?”

Now, I’m far from an expert in this field. I have no training in marketing, PR, or advertising, though I have pretty extensive experience in sales, having spent many years in the wholesale food business doing just that (lots of cold calling on people who were already buying from someone else, actually). However, since embarking on my new career as a social media marketing strategist and bottle-washer, I do have some thoughts about what “engagement” means to me.

I’m of the opinion the use of “engagement”, in today’s rapidly changing social media fueled world, means a shift away from broadcasting one’s message out through print media, email blasts, websites, etc. toward a model that invites dialogue and conversation. I believe the difference is fairly well expressed in the concepts of “outbound” and “inbound” marketing. As I said, though, I’m a bit of a novice at this, so maybe I’m just full of hot air myself.

Nevertheless, I do have a fair amount of experience with the restaurant business, having eaten at lots of them, as well as managed a couple, and sold lots of product to many. I learned all about service from the restaurant business. I learned how to make people not only comfortable, but happy they did business with me.

So . . . what do I mean by the title of this piece? I am doing some low-level reputation management and I have some Google alerts set up to let me know when some of the businesses I’m working with, or am interested in, are being discussed. Today I got one that led me to read a couple of reviews of a particular sports bar I would like to have as a client. One of the reviews mentioned how the owner walked around and talked to each of the tables where people were eating, drinking, and watching a game. The author of the review also suggested this was no longer the norm, which was why it stood out. Also mentioned was the author’s belief this wasn’t just a cursory walk-around, but a genuine conversation; an “engagement” with the people that pay his rent and his employee’s salaries.

It made me realize the best, most successful restaurants have always done something like this. They make their customers feel as though they are eating with friends, that they matter, and their comfort and satisfaction matter. It’s not something that goes on a checklist of things to do. It’s natural (at least with the best of owners and managers) and – which it always was for me – fun and fulfilling. It’s also a way to get immediate feedback and to address problems before they get out-of-hand.

Engagement is important, and social media provides ways for most anyone in business to participate as never before possible. However, as many also point out, it’s important to be genuine and it helps if you really care. Successful restauranteurs understand this in their bones. Their success proves its value as well. Have you figured out how to genuinely engage with your customers?

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