fresno food memories

Yesterday was Black Friday.    The family hit our usual but most anticipated post-Thanksgiving breakfast joint in downtown Fresno – George’s Shish Kebab.  George’s is a little gem of an Armenian diner hidden in a small business park near the civic center, open for breakfast and lunch only.  We’ve been annual regulars there, gorging on shish kebab  for at least the past 20 years. This year I decided to mix it up by ordering the Hy burger patty (a combo of ground lamb and beef mixed with Mediterranean spices and parsley) and eggs instead of the lamb shish kebab.  But while all of their  breakfast entrees are tasty, what I really look forward to is their peda bread.  Not to be confused with and very unlike the pita  they sell in grocery stores, this peda is more like an airy French bread, sliced thick like a Hawaiian sweet bread and just as light. Delivered to the table still warm from being toasted, I spread a thin layer of butter on a slice and I’m golden as the bread I’m about to eat.

After breakfast, we wandered through the tiny indoor mall that houses George’s and came upon a new tea shop – Teazer World Tea Market.  One of only a few retailers in the small building, and one of the fewer still that was open in that weekend-deserted part of town.  A very zen-like young man was working and I asked if he carried milk oolong.   “Oh, no.  You can only get that in San Francisco.”  How did he know?  “That tea is made  especially for the people who buy the tea there.”  Interesting.  But he did show me a similar type of naturally cream-tasting tea – Cream Earl Grey.  I bought an ounce and will try it out this weekend.

Closing off my post Thanksgiving in Fresno, my family stopped off at the cemetery/crematory to visit my uncles, aunts, and family friends who have passed.  But the first person(s) I always visit at the Chapel of the Light is my maternal grandmother, who is urned with my grandfather and shares a niche with my mom’s oldest brother, Fred.  In the 37 years since my grandmother’s passing, I don’t think there’s been a day that has gone by that I have not thought about her.  Although she barely spoke English to my measly Japanese, we got along famously I believe it was she who first started my love of food.  She used to make this tomato-sauceless spaghetti that, to this day, I crave and beg my mom to replicate whenever I’m in LA.  It seems fairly simple – spaghetti with stewed tomatoes, ground beef (or Chinese sausage or bacon), onion, mushrooms, and mozzarella.  But I have never gotten even close to the taste I remember from childhood.  I think it must have been that extra dash of grandmotherly love she added.  I also think she would have loved the shish kebab at George’s.

bachan and me on her farm near Fresno.

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