Monday, 18 March 2013

House of Chan and Pickled Tongue ... a favourite restaurant and an acquired taste

Mom`s handwritten recipe
for Ethel`s Pickled Tongue

The other night Carlo and I were chatting as I prepared dinner.  I realized that 20 years later, I've grown into  a pretty efficient and quick cook...nothing like the cook I was when we were dating and first married. I guess you could that the way to his heart was not always through his stomach.

Mom was the same.  Although she was raised in a very traditional 1950's household, where my grandmother was the quintessential housewife and hostess, cocktails were a pre-dinner staple and you always left a finger of wine in the bottom of your glass (I am not kidding!), Mom was not a fantastic cook when she was a newlywed!

She loved to tell the story of when she and Dad were first married and she decided to make a fancy "tongue"  dinner for him.  She seasoned the meat, put it the oven and set a lovely dinner table.  As they sat down to this picture-perfect meal, Mom proceeded to carve the tongue.  

The look on my father's face said it all...are you imagining how shocked he was that she had prepared such a meal to serve him?  If so, you're right.  But it's probably not the look you are imagining - it was a look of horror, as the tongue was still raw, and the juices flowing were bright red.  She had only cooked it for 20 minutes!  Poor Mom, she was so disappointed, and embarrassed.  Kudos to my sweet Dad, who said not a word as he got up and got her coat, then took her for dinner to House of Chan, for a steak, served medium! The joke went that this was the night my Mom really learned what to make for dinner - reservations!

House of Chan: this is the way it looked 47 years ago,
 and still does today!  In fact, I remember sitting in those booths
for a surf and turf dinner with my parents, Davie and Carlo!

While I can only remember Mom making tongue once in my lifetime (and sorry, but it was one time too many for me!!), I can remember many evenings spent at "Chan", as she and I called it, waiting at the bar while Mom had her gin and tonic (Beefeater or Tanqueray only), dry with a twist, and we waited for a booth to open up.  I remember how she loved the side dishes as much as the main meal - the sliced vegetables to start, the home style potatoes, sauteed vegetables and the French fried onions...there was never a morsel left on the plates. 

This all came back to me as I perused her Golden Recipes book and came across a recipe for Ethel's Pickled Tongue, written on a calendar page from Tuesday September 17th, 1968 (not even 1 month after I was born).  Ethel is one of Mom's 2 best friends.  They share a birthday and a lifelong friendship.  They shared meals, recipes and many memories.

While I have no intention of making this recipe, I just loved the back story and wanted to share it with you, and her grandchildren - for whom I write this blog as a record of our family recipes and memories. 

If you like meat, and enjoy preparing more "exotic" dishes, you may want to try Ethel's Pickled Tongue.  Above is the original recipe, written in Mom's hand.  If you like lobster, steak or Chinese food, you will definitely want to try the House of Chan, just make a reservation first!

Until next time, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!