Happy New Year, 2011

Rustic Dining
The hours are winding down with year 2010 in preparation for a New Year coming. This is supposed to be the time when I fall into a deep sleep and have a visit from three ghosts — Ghost of New Years Past, Ghost of New Years Present, and Ghost of New Years Future. The unfortunate thing is that I have an appetite that I plan to satisfy before going to a New Year’s Eve gathering. I have no time for any ghosts, let alone them taking me through the motions of past, present, and future. But before I stuff my jaws, I shall reflect.

Past

I reflect on having started Chicago Alphabet Soup in 2006. There were my constant food companion and me going to all the various ethnic eateries in Chicago every even week of the month. It was great. It was fantastic. The experiences always left us dragging out of restaurants from having gotten way more fill than we expected. And I had found then that the whole process of seeking ethnic restaurants was rather fun and was even more of a learning experience from a cultural standpoint. I learned that Chicago is a city of many cultures, beliefs, and traditions, and one way of delving into those aspects — surprisingly — is through food. However, as the years passed our number grew from two to double digits. There were scheduling conflicts, geographical gripes, dietary constraints, and a host of other antics that caused the restaurant outings to lose steam. Then I faded out of the scene all together.

If things fall apart, Gino, are you willing to pick up the pieces and continue?

So, in summer of 2009 I stepped aside long enough to get clarity on Chicago Alphabet Soup and its shelf life.

Present

Come with me to summer of 2010. While it may be past tense as of reading this note, it signifies where my present state of mind was that resulted in me blowing life back into Chicago Alphabet Soup. A whole year has passed since I had gone to any ethic restaurants to journal. Having taken some photography classes and learning how to better use my digital cameras — three of them I have — I wanted to start whetting my palate with some restaurant delights and capturing the victims — I mean food — with a serious photographer’s eye. However, I chose to go solo instead of entertaining the crowd factor. Plus, I wanted to break out of my shy shell and get away from feeling like I required someone to accompany me to restaurants. I found myself filling my camera bag with my camera, flashes, and tripod, and then off to some spot for food bliss. I found more restaurants and tried dishes I never would have imagined trying. I included American in a few journal entries, something I had said I would never do on the blog. I captured great shots of the food I ate, chatted with chefs and owners — something I never would have done before — and grew once again to enjoy the original charter of Chicago Alphabet Soup.

If things fall apart, Gino, are you willing to pick up the pieces and continue?

Yes, I will answer the call to continue Chicago Alphabet Soup so that you, the reading audience, will know of all the good things tasty in Chicago.

Future

For year 2011, I will take Chicago Alphabet Soup up a notch. Without compromising the flavour of the blog, I will start to add a more personal, real touch to the posts by getting close to the staff to show the restaurants in action. Although I have joked about wanting to get into the kitchen or to do real interviews of the chefs or cooks, I will actually work towards that end in the New Year, even if it means engaging the owners in conversation briefly to find out what made them open the restaurants. It is not just the food that makes the restaurant but it is the staff that prepares the food. They are an intricate part of the equation that makes any diner, café, or restaurant what it is. And I will add that aspect of my excursion slowly to my journal entries.

If things fall apart, Gino, are you willing to pick up the pieces and continue?

I am the thread that holds together the fabric of Chicago Alphabet Soup. I will not let things fall apart.

Cappuccino
It as it this point that I would awake with an understanding of my purpose and shout words of good cheer to those outside my window. Instead I will sign off, microwave a dish of tilapia and couscous, and stuff my jaws with it along with a salad garnished with apricots. My New Year Resolution is not to cut back on my eating, apparent in my want for getting fed before going to a New Year’s Eve party to eat even more. There are great things to come on the blog. Stay tuned. In the meantime, as we say in Twi during the Near Year, Afehyia Pa. Happy New Year.

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