Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Harrowing Journey to Getting a License : Part Two


When last we checked in with our protagonist he had just been ushered into the depths of an old decrepit estate that time had forgotten.  Lost with only the sole guidance of his creepily mysterious driving instructor they were now in a garage with no escape in sight.  Our story continues….

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I Had A Dream

In honor of the amazing Martin Luther King Jr. and his increadibly prophetic “I Have a Dream” speech, I decided to take a look at one of the more interesting and dare I say revolutionary dreams I have had in some time.

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Welcome Back!!!

I know you missed us during our brief Holiday hiatus here at American Appetite. While you have been busy returning that hideous sweater Aunt Loraine bought you, and breaking your week old resolutions we have been busy behind the scenes getting geared up for what we hope to be a truly transcendent year.

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Relaunching of American Appetite : Monday, January 16th, 10 AM

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A lot of people have been asking recently, why we have been slacking over here at American Appetite.  Well folks it’s because in an effort to better serve our diehard readership we have been fastidiously working behind the scenes to bump up of site and get a whole fresh mill of articles churning for your reading pleasure.

American Appetite started out as some weird kids dream to get out his hot food takes and has morphed into something so much more, so what better day for a relaunch than on a day dedicated to another man of grand nocturnal imagery.  So set your alarms for 10 AM, Monday January 16th when the new and improved American Appetite hits the internet waves again.  I know you missed us.

My Harrowing Journey to Getting a License (A Two Part Tale)

There are few days that shape a young persons life quite like the day you get your license. A freedom achieved where you no longer need to arrange rides to the movies or to a friends house. You don’t even need a destination for the night, you can simply cruise around, if the gas is cheap enough, and see where the night may take you. Achieving that goal does take a considerable amount of work and in my case a tad bit of bad luck and lying.
After procuring your learners permit the first big hurdle is completing your drivers education class. Where I grew up, drivers ed was not part of our school curriculum. There was no Mr. Tuttle scheduled for forth period our Sophmore year who might teach us the ins and outs of the proper three point turn. Instead the mandatory 30 hours of educational instruction was farmed out to local companies. To say that these private “driving schools” were a bit of a joke is a HUGE understatement. It would come out years later that the school was actually an embezzling front, surprising a total of zero people. Summer afternoons were swallowed up by back to back to back classes, where kids would line up outside jostling to make it into the only class #11 taught for two weeks. The goal was always to just bite the bullet and take them straight for about a week and half and get it all done, if things didn’t pan out like that, good luck waiting for the next time you needed that one class.
The instructors of these courses were seemed like fictional characatures of people who seemed ill equipped to drive themselves. You had a ginormous man who seemed as if couldn’t squeeze behind the wheel or see the road behind his coke bottle lenses. A tiny firecracker with a limp that seemed apt to barrel someone off the road for not yielding to his right of way. A real life recreation of the SNL skit It’s Pat, who spent more time wheezing and talking about past athletic accomplishments than how to make a left hand turn. let alone teach a bunch of teenagers how to do so. A variable mix bag of driving excellence is what they told you they were, more like an oddity side show that never took off.
Each class consisted of about 30 minutes of the instructor reading straight out of a binder then a break, then about an hour and a half of some collection of driver safety videos from 1989. A personal favorite would have to be “Stay Out of the No Zones”, where they teach you the importance of keeping out of trucks blind spots, all over a cool and happening hip hop beat, you know relating to us youths and all. The best part about the class was that for those two hours you got a nice little nap in an air conditioned dark room. Or for the more studious of the bunch you could also get your summer reading done.

The other aspect of driver ed is that you have to log 12 hours of in car instruction. The breakdown of those were 6 sessions where the first 30 minutes was you being picked up and dropping off the driver who had the session before you. Followed by an hour of just aimless meandering around before picking up the session following you and dropping you off for the last 30 minutes. This is where it was savy to know which was the best driving instructor and book far in advance. I unfortunately did now know or care who my driving instructor would be and simply picked the earliest availability. Being granted the grace of the “It’s Pat” doppelgänger, who for the sake of the article I’ll refer to as Nancy, I was in for quite the instructional experience.

My first session was an early Saturday morning one. Being the first of the day I had an extra half hour of instruction instead of just dropping someone off. While I took this as a good sign initially, I soon became aware of what the extra time meant as I was instructed to drive two towns away. After about 20 minutes and countless lefts and rights to the point where I lost all bearing of even remotely where I was, Nancy told me to pull into the next driveway. Before me sat an old stone house that time had certainly forgotten. Vines strangled the foundation of the old decrepit mansion as the overgrown trees and bushes squelched out all signs of sunlight. I pulled to a stop infront of a rotting excuse for a garage door that swung out like barn doors. Nancy got out and beckoned the car inside and as I pulled the car into the dank carport my deepest fears manifested in my mind.
TO BE CONTINUED………….

2016 In Review: #1 Article – Disappearing Youth

Disappearing Youth: You Can’t Go Home Again

There is a famous novel by Thomas Wolfe titled You Can’t Go Home Again.  The novel, as the title eludes to, is about the changing relationship that an author has when he writes a book making references to his home town. The town folk believe he is being slanderous and exaggerating his characterization of the town and lash out at him.  The underlying theme of the book is about  societal changes in America and about how you can never go back to the home you once knew because of all the transitions.  With that in mind I’d like to take a more brick and mortar approach to the three biggest changes in my hometown that gave me that feeling that you really can’t go home again.

1. Wal-Lex Becomes a CVS/Staples.

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If I say it once I say it a million times, you know what kids need more than safe and fun recreation; endless amounts of paper clips and antacids. The first major change in my life that altered my view of my hometown was the closing of what was called The Wal-Lex.  Children in the small hamlet of Waltham, MA averaged about 4.3 birthday parties a year at this recreation mecca.  With the Wal-Lex you had a two-fer, a roller skating rink complete with arcade and right next door the best candle pin bowling this side of the Mississippi, actually I don’t believe they have candle pin south of Hartford, CT.  There were school fundraisers and Halloween parties held at the skating rink where you would skate for hours away from those gross girls with cooties.  Since we are in the trust tree that is American Appetite I figure I’ll let you in on a little secret story I have never told anyone.  When I was 8 years old I loved sweatpants, I wore those things every where, to the point I started being called “sweatpants boy” for a while.  Well the benefits for me as a child with sweatpants was the elastic band waste that was snug and easy to get on and off when rolling in or out of bed.  Well that love of the light gray soft pantaloons came back to bite me in a big way when attending a birthday party at the Wal-Lex one Saturday afternoon.  Not having been there for more than 20 minutes I had to go the bathroom, so I skated my way over to the lavatory.  I started to have a little tinkle when all of a sudden I lost my balance and up snapped the front of my sweatpants creating a pangea-esque wet spot all down the front of my pants.  Mortified, I didn’t know what to do.   My mother wouldn’t be there to pick my up for another couple hours and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.  Now I have had my own personal battles when it comes to my bladder so even if I tried to explain it was a mistake no one would believe me.  So I proceeded for the next 2-3 hours to stand wedged between a wall and one of those stop the clock arcade games.  People kept coming over to get me to join them in skating but I would rebuff them saying I really enjoyed watching the lights and the circled around.  Being a slightly off child they actually bought that and I got enough time until my brother came in to get me while my mom was waiting outside in the car.  I did my best Apolo Anton Ohno to the door, jumped into the back seat and ran into the house the second I got home, no one the wiser.  With such a traumatic experience there you would expect me to dance on the ashes of the remnants but that’s how magical a place the Wal-Lex was.

2. Brigham’s fades into obscurity

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A Boston institution for many years, Brigham’s was the lone surviving retro ice cream and soda jerk mecca in the area.  A local chain that still exports fine ice cream (including teh best peppermint stick around according to my grandfather), the last outposts in Arlington, Hingham,  Quincy, and North Andover have been closed for years.  When my local Waltham location closed down in the early 2000’s that was the second domino to fall in the ever changing landscape of what I knew as my hometown.  Never again could I stop by for a grilled cheese and an other worldly raspberry lime rickey.  No more double brownie sundaes being scarfed down while plopped on top of a stationary bar stool.  For no other reason than being such a cornerstone in so many Boston area youths Brigham’s should most notably be remembered as the bastion of “jimmies”.  An incorrectly polarizing figure “jimmies” is what chocolate sprinkles were called at Brigham’s, and unlike dairy dishing counterparts, were free on every single ice cream.   The term has long been held as a racial epithet, propagating the racist stereotype of Bostonian’s, when in reality they were named after the man who ran the machine who made them.  Racist sprinkles aside, Brigham’s was that safe haven on a rainy day or cooling respite in the dog days of summer.  Once that closed a part of my hometown landscape was forever changed.

3. Lifestyles Adult Boutique sells its last riding crop

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The final blow occurred when I came home recently and was traveling down the busiest street in town, nicknamed Restaurant Row.   Hidden to unsuspecting visitors or those not in the know in a nondescript group of stores is a stairwell.  Down that stairwell is the measuring stick for the gumption of every high schooler in my town, Lifestyles Adult Boutique.  There was no bigger challenge of bravery than taking those 20 or so steps down into the adult dungeon that brought such pride if you had made it passed the door as an underage kid looking to see some unrated sexploytation.  In actuality it wasn’t anything all that special, a normal dingy basement with weird green walls and tons of adult gadgets, outfits, and videos that none of us had a clue about.  When it comes down to it though, can you ever go home again when the porn store every 15 years old kid giggles about when they pass goes out of business.  I don’t think so.

 

2016 In Review: #1 Food Post – Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli : The Cannoli Battle of Boston’s North End

Michael Corleone famously said in The Godfather Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again, ever“, well what happens when unfortunately your crazy uncle has the palate of an ageusic slug?  Family feuds and awkward Thanksgiving dinners are what happen.  I can’t think of any greater lightning rod of family dissension than the Italian culinary cannon the cannoli, more specifically between two great houses along Hanover St in Boston’s North End Neighborhood.  Perched diagonal from each other less than a block away are the Stark/Lannisters of the cannoli game in Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry .  Both are North End institutions that have braved the neighborhood for over 50 years, and over that time folks have garnered an unyielding opinion on what ricotta filled confection reigns supreme.  I literally know Aunts who have stopped talking to Nephews, cousins refusing to take phone calls from other cousins, and co-workers who won’t even send back a passive aggressive email all over their contemporaries choice of pastry shop.  It was with that in mind that I took to the street with an objective taster, ( I was born and raised by Mike’s and don’t want any whiff of impropriety)to once and for all try to solve the dilemma of who makes the best cannoli.

First up is the fine people over at Modern Pastry.

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Their product is the perfect proportion of shell to ricotta filling.  A crunchy cookie-esque tube is filled with tangy and not overly sweet ricotta cheese filling, you really know you’re eating ricotta.  The light dusting of powder sugar gives a little extra sugar punch that is quite nice to balance the innate cheese tang.  Overall it is a phenomenal cannoli, but how does it stack up to the across the street rival.

Next up is Mike’s Pasty

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This hand filling behemoth is jam packed with and overflowing amount of ricotta filling.  Their shell is a bit more brittle and airy with noticeably larger air pockets that flake away and crunch nicely when you bite in.  Filling at Mike’s is more on the sweeter side where you don’t get the tangy ricotta flavor that is more pronounced at Modern.  While the powdered sugar adds a little bit more sweetness it isn’t completely necessary to balance out the ricotta filling.  Overall another Casanova of the conical confections.

The conclusion is that while both Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry are destination canolli locations when in The North End there can only be one head of the family make rule on which is top.  In this battle the fine folks at Mike’s Pastry are the winners.  But be the judge for yourself and go try them out as soon as you can.  Tell them American Appetite sent you so they can be confused and maybe start reading the blog too.

2016 In Review: #2 Article – The Time Albert Belle Kicked Me Out of a Toronto Hotel

The time Albert Belle kicked me out of a Toronto Hotel

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In the summer of 1997 my family decided to take a little trip north of the border to go see some of our ancestral homeland.  We took in all the big sites, Niagara Falls and Toronto, that’s pretty much it for sites up in Mooseland.  Part of our reason for visiting Toronto was to see the Boston Red Sox take the maple syrup highway north and whip some Blue Jay tail.  At what at the time was the SkyDome, now Rogers Centre, you could actually stay in the stadium as it had a fully functional hotel.  Windows in our room overlooked left-centerfield and aside from the hours of electric blowers corralling the trash post game, it was a great stay.  Having arrived a night before the Sox came to town we caught the last game of a series with the Chicago White Sox that night.  The next morning we traipsed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast where the waitress remarked that the opposing teams stayed at the hotel as well and if we waited around the front desk we might be able to catch an autograph or two from players checking out.  Hurriedly we scampered back to our room to grab a pen and a ball to get signed.  We lucked out when returning to the lobby Robin Ventura was sauntering to the elevator.  Politely we asked for an autograph and he obliged, ducking phantom Nolan Ryan heaters as he jotted down his mark.  With one down we paced back and forth waiting for the next player to arrive when the jack pot arrived in Frank Thomas.  A massive man towering over a tiny 10 year old freckled sprite he knowingly walked right up grabbed the ball and signed away.  He couldn’t had been nicer as he handed it back and said “have a nice day kid”.  Wow, could that had been any sweeter with such a pillar of the game giving me his autograph in such a pleasant exchange.  Well things soured pretty fast as Albert Belle came charging to the front desk.

In professional sports, much like the movies or professional wrestling, there are good guys (Derek Jeter, David Eckstein, Cal Ripken Jr) and there are bad guys, and then there is Albert Belle.  No one in professional sports has ever quite embraced the role of heel like Albert Belle.  In his tenure in the league with the Indians, White Sox, and Orioles, he bristled both teammates, sports writers, and team officials equally.  Reports of rage and destruction followed Belle wherever he went, most notably having smashed teammate Kenny Lofton’s boombox after a bad at-bat and incurring a yearly $10,000 bill from teams for clubhouse destruction.  He further cemented his bad boy legacy when he not only got caught using a corked bat, but then proceeded to have a teammate attempt to steal it from the umpires room by climbing through ceiling tiles.

Now knowing full well that he had a bit of a temper from his past tirades when on the Indians, myself, my brother and a handful of other children awaiting their idols in the lobby kept our distance while he went about completing check out.  Visibly irritated he kept muttering, not so under his breath, “these fucking kids, get these fucking kids away from me”.  The woman at the desk did her best to try to alleviate a quickly escalating temper tantrum, having a bell hop move us further away from Mr. Belle and assuring him that he wouldn’t be bothered.  This did little to ease the boiling maniac and having completed his check out he whirled around, stormed over in our direction, and proceeded to berate us “little punks who didn’t deserve his autograph” and demand our expulsion from the establishment.  As he continued to scream at us, the front desk steward came over and joined in at yelling at us to placate Mr. Belle and proceeded to throw us out of the hotel.  Stuck outside in the Canadian summer heat, which is actually quite lovely very tempered, my brother and I made numerous attempts to re-enter the revolving door into the hotel only to be shooed right back out on every attempt and labeled as “street children”.  It wasn’t until my mother, who had gone back to our room to get another ball, came back and found her children outside being yelled at by a hotel employee were we allowed back in.  Informing the woman that we were indeed hotel guests and should never be treated this way as paying guests, let alone children, she quickly cowered apologetically and retreated back into the depths of the coat check room.  It was with that kind Canadian hospitality that always endears me to trips across the border to hang out with my buddy Albert.

2016 In Review: #2 Food Review – Bound for Great BBQ: Head North

Bound for Great BBQ: Head North

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For some of the best Midwestern BBQ you need to check out the unique treats at Northbound Smokehouse & BrewpubSituated in a sleepy neighborhood between the airport and downtown you will find a fairly nondescript brick a glass corner restaurant with a line out the door.  Jammed to the gills with people is always a sign of phenomenal BBQ and this is no exception to that rule.  People were braving  bordering freezing temperatures just to wait for some sweet sweet Q.  The interior itself is a bit dark and moody, giving the feeling of a dark and weathered soul that’s been through some shit, which is ideally what you want from a cuisine that was raised hand in hand with the blues.  Televisions provide some added atmosphere of whatever local sporting event is transpiring that day, but the main focal point of the space is the bar.  Taking up a good portion of the restaurant is a giant L shaped bar, that forms a barrier in front of two giant fermentation tanks, serving as a reminder that you are indeed at a brew pub that serves some phenomenal suds.  Try out one of their house specialties Big Jim IPA’s with your meal and you won’t be disappointed.

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From the jump the food is a mixture of Midwest bar staples and southern treats.  The national dish of the dairy union, the deep fried cheese curd, is done up fantastically.  It is gently smoked and fried up golden in the crunchiest of batters, packing so much flavor it makes the ranch dressing unnecessary.  Another bar staple that is prepared to perfection is the house smoked chicken wings.  Done up with the jerk rub, the smoke coats the wings like a sauce, satiating your palate as the piquant poultry slips down your gullet with a toothsome bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now usually I try to differentiate whatever main entree I get from my dining companions so as to get a little more coverage, but neither of us could resist trying the 18-Hour Porketta Sandwich, especially after a glowing recommendation from the waitress.  Boy was she ever right.  Tender shreds of succulent swine drip with porky goodness, soaking up all that jubilant juice in the soft egg roll.  The caramelized onions add a sweetness that accentuates the inherent piggyness and is sent over the top with the mellow Swiss cheese that is oh so gently kissed with smoke.  Having the BBQ sauce on the side is ingenious as it isn’t necessary at all, but does add a bit of tangy zip if your palate is looking for a bit of a pick me up.  This by far was the best bite of food I had in Minneapolis.

For some solid smoked staples combined with bodacious beers head no further than Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub.  You may end up leaving there smelling like someone who stood too close to the grill at a backyard cookout, with faint aromas of smoke and beer permeating your clothes, but it definitely is worth it.

2016 In Review: #3 Article – An Epic Saga of Why Bachelorette Parties are the Best.

An Epic Saga of Why Bachelorette Parties are the Best.

As a single 20 something year old guy, the best case scenario for a random night out on the town with nothing planned, is somehow bumping into a bachelorette party.  The onslaught of tiara’s and sashes are almost like a bat signal for a night filled with unbridled flirting and festive party atmosphere.

The following is a story encompassing the collective recollection of about fifteen 22 year old men celebrating one friends birthday and our run in with a most epic Bachelorette Party.

After a few adult beverages pregaming the evening we hopped into a stretch navigator with a 30 of Busch and made our way into the belly of Boston, set for Landsdowne St. For those unfamiliar with the area, Landsdowne sits directly behind Fenway Park’s Green Monster, and is essentially the blue law Puritanian Boston version of Bourbon St. A row of bars and night clubs and more bars make for a main destination when having a large celebration. At the time there was a dueling piano bar located right in the heart of the strip (it has since burned down, RIP) that served as our main base of operations.

Liberally liquored up on a way to a good time we storm into the joint and take it over amidst a cloud of fun loving tomfoolery. A brief aside here to mention that I have a unique set of friends who would much rather spend the night dancing by themselves or belting out Tiny Dancer rather than cruising for chicks. We make for a good time if you make your way into a circle but are perfectly content making our own fun. After a few more birthday beers and shots with the celebratory lad we take positions around the two pianists covering some of the days hottest hits.

Requests abundant they lay into crowd pleasers, Dick in a Box and All-Star, before asking for volunteers to serenade a soon to be blushing bride on stage with some Boyz II Men. Always one to step up in the clutch, I trip over the velvet rope to the stage and announce my participation with authority. After a few inferior suitors approached, I proceeded to lay waste to them with my sensual serenade of I’ll Make Love to You. To say the bachelorette swooned and began to reconsider her pending nuptials is an understatement.

Post singing things started to heat up for myself and our group of friends as the multiple bachelorette parties witnessed what kind of studs they were working with and flocked to our area of the bar. A lot of flirtation with the birthday boy ensued, setting up pictures of him clad with tiara and sash, and even the fiancé herself. It is at this point the night tends to get a bit fuzzy but the following facts were confirmed by multiple sources. At some point 5 of us got kicked out of the bar. A couple then proceeded to notorious Cask ‘N Flaggen to continue our night but were ejected from that establishment as well.

At this point we proceeded to befriend the sausage guy, hawking grilled meat along the street as we tried to work our way back into the piano bar. Our last futile attempt was turned away as the bouncer stated, “how can I let you in your friend is right there pissing in the middle of the street.” I’ll take the mi culpa on that one as I do have a weak bladder, and the line seemed long.

At that point another bachelorette party pulled up in a party bus, and seeing no other options a few of us decided to try and hop on. Toddling back and forth between the driver trying to extricate us and the ladies whooping up what I suppose they assumed was the most elaborate strip-o-gram of all time only one lone soldier was permitted to remain on the bus.

Time for another brief aside. Now on bachelor parties the itinerary mostly sticks to drinking and debauchery, possibly a strip club from time to time. I have quickly learned that bachelorette parties entail a good amount of crafts and games. It isn’t always to sufficient to go ham wild with some drinks and dancing, you need to throw in a scavenger hunt or penis ring toss to liven it up. So unbeknownst to me one particular game this bachelorette party was playing revolved around a deck of cards that provided points if they were able to attain certain goals or objects on the bachelorette party. Well low and behold the next morning I woke up with one sock and a card for 40 points stating “get a strangers sock”. Now I can always go out and buy a new pair of socks, but what really hurt me was that I was tackled by one of my friends before I was able to get the 500 point card: “get a strangers underwear”. Apparently it’s frowned upon to drop your pants in the middle of Lansdowne St., well at least that’s what I learned from the evening. God bachelorette parties are the best.

A few funny post scripts about that evening. The lot of us did not have a designated ride home so we all had to find our own way which included the following:

-A group walking approximately 3 miles to the campus of Boston College where one of their fathers picked them up in a limo.

-A $57 cab ride back to the apartment we were pregaming at.

-My brother and his (girl friend at that point) picking the remaining lot up. A drunken friend unfamiliar to my family tree asked who the woman driving the car was, to which I befuddledly responded “it’s my lady in law”. Hence developing the best nickname for my now sister-in-law I have ever created.

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