As you might imagine, we take our chicken wings fairly seriously here in Buffalo, NY. While other cities tout fame born of industry, finance, glamour, and culture, we hang our hat on deep fried fowl appendages.
Not to say that Buffalo is as backwater as most would consider…we have produced two (albeit universally unknown) U.S. presidents, were the terminus of one of the most famous canals in history (ask my mule, Sal), and once boasted more taverns per square mile than any other city in the nation. Canal Street and the surrounding environs were at one time considered the most wretched and vile stretches of real estate on the planet, with a murder rate that kept life expectancy so low that no one ever qualified for a senior coffee. Oh, and we get some snow every once in a while.
We are the home of second place: we are the second-largest city in New York…we are the second poorest city in the nation…the Bills came in second four times in one decade…the Sabres (no goal) took second to a town that hasn't seen ice in centuries…we have the second oldest zoo in the country…we hosted the second largest World Juniors Hockey Tournament this year…but we do come in first on cholesterol levels and heart disease. Oh bother.
Back to the chicken wings.
Of course, all things in moderation.
My Teresa, age five, was initially puzzled; "Why do we just get water?" she asked as the waitress brought glasses of H2O to the table upon arrival. I explained that in restaurants where the spokesperson is not a clown water is often brought to the table for the patrons when they arrive. "Why? What if you like pop?" I had no answer.
While we waited for our food we played "Questions", a beloved tradition in which age-appropriate trivia and general knowledge questions are posed to each in order at the table with absolutely no prize or winner save the love of the game. Math, Social Studies, Church History, and Spongebob episodes are the most frequent categories, and I function as a reasonable facsimile of Alex Trebek. My son John Paul and "Ellen from Buffalo's" esteemed son are classmates and requested European history. I agreed. First question: "What nationality are you if you drink 100 glasses of iced tea? " Answer: "European."
It brought the house down. Props to Helga from "Hey, Arnold".
A short time later we bundled up against the snow and cold and made our way home. It was an enjoyable trip to the Mecca of munchies…I am proud to say no one spilled their sodas, which is a really big deal, as most parents will attest. We splurged on a little deep fried fun, and shared some smiles and laughter.
And Teresa even drank her water.
St. John of God, patron of those suffering heart ailments, Pray for us.