As I have grown older, I have realized that I look towards the future with more interest than my younger years and equally look back on my childhood with an ever increasing fondness. What I have found in my ruminations of my past is that many of my fondest memories actually occur in family restaurants with my parents and my sister.
I grew up in a time when it wasn't feasible to eat out all the time and visiting pretty much any of the family restaurants was considered a special occasion. I also grew up in a town with just over a thousand people. That meant that there weren't very many options in town. Sure, there were a couple of family friendly restaurants in the area, but absolutely no fast food joints. That meant that the only time my family ever went to these types of restaurant was when we went out of town.
As I recall, there were a lot of times that we needed to go out of town. Every couple of months, we made a two hour trip to a bigger city to stock up at the grocery store with far better prices than our local place. My favorite was being able to go to the mall where they had two different bookstores. I would spend as much time as I could looking at all the geeky role playing game books even though I didn't know anyone that played those games back home. It was the same with the different card games, but at least with those I knew a couple people that played those. Other than picking up a book from the bookstores, my favorite thing that we did was when we went to any number of the family restaurants. At the time, I felt that the food was somehow better than what we ate at home. Maybe it was the fact that we didn't have to make it ourselves that made the difference or the fact that there were appetizers and we never really had those at home.
One of my earliest memories is from a family restaurant that had those little plastic swords and I was trying to spear a crouton with it. The sword snapped, the crouton went flying one direction and the plastic blade went the other. I was left with the handle in my grasp. Halfway across the family restaurant we heard a lady exclaim, "Hey!" I looked over and saw her fishing around in her ridiculously large coif. I'm guessing it was the blade that got her. When she started looking around, we all snapped our attention back to our plates like nothing had happened, though we were all stifling our giggles.
There are many other fond memories that I have of other visits to family restaurants, but that is by far the most entertaining and perhaps a bit embarrassing. I still am under the assumption that no one but my family are aware of what happened that day at that family restaurant.
Tim Hiller is a freelance writer that wants his children to have fond memories of family restaurants when they grow up. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com