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“It doesn’t matter what we eat between Christmas and New Year’s, it only matters what we eat between New Year’s and Christmas.” – Vinnie Tortorich
I’m writing this blog in southern Louisiana. I’ve been here for a couple of days. Tonight was the second night in a row that I had one of my favorite meals – southern fried catfish. The difference between last night’s and tonight’s meal was the people. Last night I had dinner with my friend Lisa. Generally, when I eat with a girl, I eat like a girl. I always eat slightly more than they do so they don’t feel like a pig. Tonight I had dinner with the guys. These were the guys I grew up with. Going around the table from my left, the guy next to me was a fellow Italian, a guy I love like a brother, J. D. Sciortino. I loved this guy growing up. He earns his living as an auto mechanic. But his true love is cooking. He can cook like nobody’s business. He brought me five pounds of homemade Italian sausage. He also had the best quote of the evening. When he started ordering fried foods as appetizers, I commented, “Will this come with a cardiologist?” He said, “Don’t worry, if you get your blood pressure high enough, it’ll blow the clogs out of your arteries.” Next to him was Todd. He’s a good old boy. He was wire thin in high school. He played football with more heart than size. He’s the kind of guy you can count on your whole life. Next to him was Moose. To be perfectly honest, Moose drives me nuts most of the time. Tonight was no different. I think he goes out of his way to piss me off. I have to give him credit…some real thought had to go into it tonight. Next to him was Todd’s younger brother Barry. I probably talked to Barry more than anyone in the group. The simple reason? We’re both on the road all the time. When one of us gets bored, we start dialing. What can I say? The guy makes me laugh. I have professional comedians as close friends who don’t make me laugh the way Barry can. Rounding out the lineup was my little brother Charles. Sometimes I think my only reason for existing is to make Charles shake his head. I told you that to tell you this. I had fried alligator tonight. It’s one of my favorites. I also had a fried frog leg. I ate fried shrimp, fried catfish and, to top it all off, I had a baked potato with all the fixings. When I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, I put a few more pieces of catfish in my mouth. I’m generally not so much of a glutton. But once a year I’ll have that meal. I know what you’re thinking…two reptiles in the same meal? This guy is nuts. But I know once I leave Cajun country, I won’t have that meal for another whole year. I’ll spend the next 364 days being healthy. Why do I do this? It goes back to an old quote my first weightlifting coach, Joe Bonadona, had, “You’ve got to put life into living.”