Da Capo's Best Food Writing 2009, is out, and once again it includes a piece from Jason Sheehan: "The Last of the Great $10 Steaks," his wonderful Westword review of the Columbine Steak House.
Here's a taste:
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The smell of cheap steaks burning on a grill, of char smoke on the spring air mixing with the smell of hyacinth and burley-and-bright. That will always remind me of my dad, of my mom watching him through the little window in the kitchen looking out over the back yard, of good days when I knew in some deep and mostly inaccessible part of my childhood self that things were, for the moment, okay. Steak nights were like quiet celebrations of small victories -- solid knowledge that there was enough money to pay the bills, that the grownups had done whatever it was that grownups do to make things all right for a few hours or a few days.
If I were Proust, that smell would be my madeleine -- the trigger for a crashing flood of recall, of me in the warm comfort of boyhood. And walking past the back door of the Columbine Steak House, I get a whiff of it.