Monday, February 11, 2013

Dr. Who? Dr. Saganaki. That's Who.

What’s not to like about going to the doctor? A half-day off of school, a zesty interaction with amiable office staffers in primary colors, a quick pass of an ice cold stethoscope, and you’re out-lollipop and sticker in hand, and all appendage repair done by riotously themed band-aids.

Or at least…that’s how it is when you’re 10.

I recently subjected myself to an adult check-up. Having been a fairly healthy child and teen, I did not know to be afraid. In the way you don’t know to avoid picking up a hot curling iron by the wrong end until you’ve done it once. A swollen palm basted in Vaseline for a week is an unwelcome test of ambidextrousness.

Going for a check-up now is an experience pitted with the cultural and situational landmines that come with being an adult. For example, the cynical voice in my head (which inexplicably sounds like Jon Lovitz) chiming in as the blood pressure cuff tightens: I could have just done this at Costco. Or my naive failure to predict that I would be given a paper gown exactly twice as wide as it was long, thus giving an impression somewhere between “paper napkin football player,” and “surly snowflake in a 2nd grade play.”

A tetanus shot and a co-pay later I was released into the day, feeling underwhelmed and a bit betrayed by a medical field that I had previously embraced.

No lollipop, and a midriff-baring gown. You are welcome to pry my co-pay from my cold, dead…credit card. Actually, can you split it between two? Because this one gets great points, and this one I think is feeling neglected.

The sting of modern medicine buzzing in my arm, I was going to need more than the comfort even a lollipop could provide. Keep your lollipop. I need cheese.

Cheese (especially in any degree of melt) is an undeniable emotional band-aid. It seals a fractured ego, and possibly a fractured bone. I cracked my radial head once. A Cinco de Mayo combo platter of enchiladas later, and sweet recovery was mine.

The Good Greek Grub truck is in a way, an ambulance. The vitals they take are the shimmers of hunger and pain in your eyes. And the stabilizing drug they administer goes by the FDA-approval pending name: saganaki. Flaming. Cheese.
You have undoubtedly seen a movie at some point, which includes a scene in a Greek restaurant at some point, during which flames shoot from a dish of cheese at some point, and someone yells: “OPA!”

THAT. Is saganaki.

Not just any old collection of comfort calories, it is presented as part of a drama. A pageant. The cheese show.

In what world is a plate of cheese shooting a ceiling-high wall of flame NOT the greatest show on earth?

The Good Greek Grub truck has taken the not-so-suited-to-travel pyrotechnics out of the equation, and what is left behind is a sagnaki "bite," a firm square of  Greek cheese, wrapped like a gift in homemade dough and fried-just as all gifts should be.

And sprinkled with oregano, as slightly less than half of all gifts should be.

What is retained of the classic saganaki experience is a gooey but substantive chunk of melty cheese, loosely confined to cubist finger food portability. This is the tactile experience of a mozzarella stick, with the refined flavor and tang of a dish lovingly perfected with quality ingredients. Not quite the primordial volcanic spectacle, you can actually have this saganaki for lunch. Without flames shooting above your cubicle, for all the office to discuss. So there’s that.


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