RESTAURATOR: 30 minutes at the grocery store and a life of poor food choices + Cheese and Sausage Dip


Last week, I was walking through a New Orleans grocery store with my daughter to help her restock her apartment, which had been virtually empty since Hurricane Ida swept through the city nearly two months ago. Everything in her fridge had been thrown out days after the storm, and she had been working out of town for weeks, so she was starting from scratch.

My wife walked to a different aisle as she needed to get things for our apartment. I mostly hung out with our daughter, pushing her cart, enjoying the time together, and taking an interest in the items she chose.

My daughter’s grocery tastes and my grocery tastes at 24 are different day and night. She bought fresh vegetables and all kinds of healthy, healthy items. There seemed to be a method of shopping. We were walking down an aisle and I was asking a question like, “Do you eat those frozen dinners?” ”


“And that?”

“No.” At each turn, she bought things like cottage cheese and fresh vegetables. I’m 60 and still don’t eat cottage cheese. When I was 24, I don’t remember buying a fresh vegetable from a grocery store. From the time I was 18 until I was 30, I lived through shit. Seriously, I survived on food that wasn’t good and food that wasn’t good for me.

I have never had breakfast. It’s a fact that baffles me today, because I’m a breakfast fanatic. I guess it’s mainly because I slept late. Which is another hard-to-believe fact since I got out of bed around 5 a.m. – a time when I was going to bed just then – for the past quarter of a century. There was a lot of fast food at the time. Once I opened the first restaurant at 26, I ate pizza delivered late at night five nights a week after midnight.

Not a good game plan for healthy living.

It’s amazing the shit I put in my body back then and still maintained a 32 inch waist. Then, in my early 30s, my metabolism took a permanent vacation and pant sizes slowly increased for a few decades because I wasn’t about to adjust my eating habits. By the time I blew out the candles on my 50th birthday cake, I was half the man I was.

Let’s go back to my daughter who was making adult decisions in a grocery store at 24. I was proud of the fact that she was leading a healthy lifestyle at such a young age, but I was also a little sad that she missed out on some shit. food years.

There is a lot of bad food that I still love. I rarely, if ever, eat them. But walking around the grocery store with a healthy eating girl who turned down all my suggestions brought back many old memories of bad eating habits.

Here’s a list of the top ten crappy foods of my lifelong guilty pleasures:

ten.) Gas station microwave steak burgers with onions – Driving all night in high school, mostly without anything good, that was a staple of late night convenience store snack stops. I tried eating one about 15 years ago on a road trip to a soccer game and felt bad for two days. There’s no way Robert, 60, could hang out with Robert, 20.

9.) Gas station Tater logs – It is basically a quarter of a potato, cut lengthwise, breaded and fried. It was also a late night staple after partying the night away. About once a year I eat one at a gas station where I stop sometimes in Scooba, Mississippi.

8.) Donuts – A few years ago, I opened a donut store. It was an explosion. He became a victim of Covid, but it was fun while it lasted. I ate a lot of donuts in the morning when my kids were young. This is another one of those foods that hasn’t aged well with me. Love them, especially the cream-filled bavarois and cinnamon twists, but it’s not worth feeling bad for the rest of the morning. Well, maybe it does from time to time.

7.) My school’s microwave pizza – I always believed that even a bad pizza was good. Maybe I got this idea from my school cafeteria. They offered pizzas that came in a small plastic wrap that needed to be microwaved (basically pizzas in foil). To be more precise, it was steamed and didn’t have any quality that I like in today’s pizza. It was soft and greasy, and I ate one almost every school day for six years.

6.) Café Du Monde donut mix – Another late night staple was the donut mix cooked like hushpuppies in a countertop deep fryer and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

5.) Sweet cinnamon rolls – The whop ’em on the counter kind.

4.) Chicken pot pie – My second year of college, I spent all the money from my meal ticket on a new color television. For the rest of the semester, I lived off the $ 1 kids’ menu at a Bonanza restaurant and frozen chicken pies that cost three for a dollar at the grocery store.

3.) Danish caramel buns – Pillsbury stopped making these products years ago, but when I was a kid it was a real treat. There was a crumbly brown sugar mixture that you sprinkle on the bottom of a buttered cake pan and then bake the sweet buns on top. Excellent. Seriously, exceptional.

2.) Totino’s Pizza – If you looked in my freezer today, you would probably find some frozen pizzas from Totino. Before, they cost a dollar. The kind with the small cubes of “pepperoni” is the best. It’s the only “bad food” I still eat on occasion.

1.) Sweet orange rolls – Thank goodness Pillsbury didn’t give up on these like they did the caramel ones. These are a great example of very good “bad food”. I could eat an entire box at 12, and probably still can today.

I really enjoyed shopping with my daughter. We’ve done a lot of things together in the 24 years since he was born, but grocery shopping has never been one of those things. There is something about the activity that made her seem really “great”. It’s not the little girl who sat on my lap anymore, but she still gives me a hard time because I can’t take a selfie. Now it is an independent career woman who introduced me to an excellent bottled salsa that I had never heard of that day. The tables have really turned.


A native of Hattiesburg, Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef and author. He wrote a column in a weekly newspaper for over 20 years.

Cheese Sausage Dip

Yield: 8 servings


• 1 pound of spicy sausage for breakfast

• 2 tablespoons of garlic, minced

• 2 tablespoons of bell pepper, finely diced

• 2 tablespoons of onion,

small dice

• 2 tablespoons of hot sauce

• 1 teaspoon of salt

• 1 pound of cream cheese, softened


1. In a large skillet, brown the sausage.

2. Drain the fat and add the garlic, onion and bell pepper. Continue cooking for three to four minutes.

3. Place the sausage in a mixing bowl and, while still hot, add the remaining ingredients. Use an electric mixer and mix until well combined.

4. Serve hot with fries, French bread or your favorite cracker.

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