Eating with Joe Lunch

The lastest Apron Strings contest entry comes from Jennifer Bylok. Jennifer is a market research consultant by day, and food/travel blogger by night. Her blog, EatTheMenu.ca, focuses on her and her husband’s global dining and travel adventures. She is also a contributor at SpotlightToronto.com.  Be sure to check out the rest of the Apron Strings contest submissions and rate them. The lucky winners will receive gift certificates to shop at Fiesta Farms.


When I was about 10 years old, my grandfather Joe introduced me to food.

To be more accurate, to fine dining. It was my first time in New York City and Joe (who is known to his friends, I kid you now, as “Joe Lunch”) picked my mom and me up from the airport. It was going to be a true adventure, my first time in the Big Apple. Yet before taking us to see Lady Liberty, or 5th Avenue, or Trump Tower, he took us out for dinner.

I don’t remember exactly what restaurant it was – it could have been the Russian Tea Room – but when I walked in I was dazzled. Some girls feel that way when they see Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland, but for me, I was awestruck by the waiters, clad in tuxedos with white napkins over their arm, shuffling softly from table to table topping up barely-sipped-on water glasses from crystal decanters.

The waiter pulled out the chair out for me and I sat down on the plush seat, my feet dangling above the floor. I perused a menu with words I’d never heard of, much less knew how to pronounce. I bumbled my way through the ordering, and had to be shown which of the umpteen pieces of cutlery I should use for each course. But from the first moment I tasted the food, something inside me shifted. I had never experienced anything so fantastic, and to 10-year-old me, the food was practically magical. Through each course I was awed by the flavours, the textures, and the appearance of what was placed in front of me. I think that I was even allowed a couple of sips of wine that night, snuck to me with a grin and a wink from my grandfather, all under the mock-disapproving gaze of my mother.

The rest of the vacation was a blur of sightseeing and shopping, but in the end, the only memory that has stayed with me, and in fact molded me into who I was to become, was that dinner. Thank you, Joe, for the memories.

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