October 19th, according to halife.com, is "Greasy Spoon Day."
Several years ago when I co-hosted a radio morning show with Darren Marlar, we invited listeners to call in with their favorite local greasy spoon restaurants.
We were flooded with callers letting us know about these often little-publicized, often out-of-the-way, sometimes hole-in-the-wall, usually Mom-and-Pop operations that serve incredibly delicious food.
Which is what we meant by "greasy spoon." But apparently the common definition is not nearly so flattering.
Like this one from hyperdictionary.com:
"a small restaurant specializing in short-order fried foods."
Or this one: "The American Heritage dictionary defines a Greasy Spoon as 'a small, inexpensive, often unsanitary restaurant.' The term 'greasy spoon' speaks to careless dishwashing practices, hence grease on the cutlery."
So what really is a "greasy spoon"?
Our aim with that radio show was to give a prize to the Rock River Valley's Best Greasy Spoon, but with those definitions, it's doubtful any eating establish would have been proud to hang up a plaque with that designation.
So, what do we call it? Obviously not "Greasy Spoon." The places we unearthed in our search were definitely clean and definitely didn't cook everything in gallons of lard.
"Out of the way hole in the wall under-publicized eatery with incredibly delicious food"? That's a bit of a mouthful...pun not intended. :)
I remember a place in Beaumont, Texas, when I was a little girl, called "Carnation." (I think it had something to do with Carnation milk, because it was an ice cream parlor as well as serving food.)
I actually found someone reminiscing about this place online. These are the memories of Jeff "Rusty" Russell III:
"The Carnation was the epitome of all things good and great; it was the quintessential dining experience. The burgers and fries were ambrosial, and the shakes and malts breathtakingly luscious.
And, on really special occasions, we would be treated to one of their decadent sundaes, hot fudge, banana split, Tom and Jerry (one scoop vanilla + chocolate with chocolate sauce) and The Peter Pan (chocolate with marshmallow sauce).
As the customers walked through the entrance, just to the right was the ice cream display. It was always a challenge to pass it by on the way to a booth or counter seat.
The entire cooking operation took place in the center of the room in an open air setting, and the aroma of the griddle fried burgers would fill the restaurant with mesmerizing consequences.
On those times that we didn't order sundaes, a visit to the ice cream counter was de rigueur. Two scoops of peppermint, please! Some things should NEVER go away!"
So do you have such an eatery that lives on in your memory--or maybe you have one that you still frequent? I'd love to hear about it!
(Here's another cool post about the Carnation--there's even an illustration of how it looked in 1953--before my time, but it hadn't really changed a lot by the late 60s!)