Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken N Waffles and Aquatic Life

Chicken N' Waffles. Chicken and waffles. Together. No some people may scoff at this combination, but not Roscoe. No sir. Roscoe (Herb) worked to perfect the coming together of both these food items, and in so doing created a haven for a certain section of the California populars.

That section is the section of people whom also enjoy both chicken and waffles together, at the same time. Count me in.

Breakfast is a thing of beauty when it includes two plate-sized waffles with enough syrup to drown in and heaping scoops of butter. Now in many cases, the best waffles you've ever taste in your life would be enough – but no, on plate number two you get a quarter chicken smothered (literally, you can't see the plate, or the meat at this point) in thick wonderful gravy. The chicken, of course, is fried.

Yes, eating at Roscoe's House of Chicken n Waffles is a wonderful treat – and a LA cultural experience to be sure, but it's not all syrup and gravy there. First, you may stand out a little. I'm not going to say that Kath and I were the only white folks in there – because that wouldn't be true. Nope, one more came in an hour later, as we were preparing to leave. Now this wouldn't be so much of a thing, if not for the fact that being white is detrimental to your pocket book in this restaurant, in my experience.

Everyone around us was being offered free refills of drinks which “free re-fills don't really come with.” Everyone but us. Now I'm not saying it was because we were the only white people, but I paid attention – the last twenty minute, I'll get to that in a second, all we had to do was look around. We were the only white folks, we were the only folks not getting refills. Maybe they just missed us? Could be. I'll keep an open mind; mind you, I've heard some people say that they will not go there because of the colour of their skin – which is sad, because they really are missing out on some fantastic soul food.

So the last twenty minutes – we were one eating, and wanted to leave. There is no way to make this happen. No, you will leave when the staff are good and ready for you to leave, and who knows when this could be. Let me see if I can clean this up a bit... we were told they worked on, “island time.” Yes that sweet carefree time where things happen when they will. No one else looked like they were in a hurry to go – although this could have been because of all their free lemonaid, while we just peered at empty glasses of ice.

At one point we looked over, and there was our waitress chowing down on her own piece of gravy smothered chicken. For the next fifteen minutes she devoured it, catching my eye now and then. When she was done, good, and ready, she slowly ambled over to deliver us our check and our escape. During this time of nothing, we also noticed Toronto Blue Jays caps being worn. Though, I don't know how much the gentlemen actually care about my home town ball-team. Curious, that. When paying a good tip was still left – the food, it was just too delicious. Never has the combination of waffle, butter, and syrup been so good. And the chicken? Well – if you're in the area you must experience it.

Pulling ourselves, or rather being allowed escape from, the House of Chicken N Waffles we headed a street over to the Longbeach Aquarium.

There is nothing better than free tickets to something, and that's what one of Jen's friends hooked us up with. Free aquarium tickets. Sure we still had to pay the eight dollars for parking, but we saved 24.95 each getting in. A small price to pay.

The first thing we did was head to the gift shop and buy a little stuffed turtle to add to Jen's ever growing collection of the shelled beasts. Then we headed in to see what we could see. Oh the fish that there were – red fish, blue fish, one fish, two fish... and sea lions too.

We didn't learn a thing. For four hours we wandered the aquarium just looking at things and being amazed by the foreign worlds which normally exist under water, made accessible through sheets of glass.

No this wasn't like in New Zealand where you get to walk the stairs down below the surface and view the ocean proper, but there you could never be guaranteed such sightings.

There were giant sea bass, and Nemos, as well as Dorys. And there were jellies. Some of them looked like they should have been harassing Farpoint Station. Oh the jelly fish that there were. The white moon jellies, set against the field of black, made brilliant through their lighting were unbelievable. Some of the pictures are frameable as abstract art.

Outside there were sea lions doing their things, and otters which seamed to shoot through the tank right next to the window, waving to us as they crossed. Katherine is now determined to own one of these tool using non-primates.

I don't want to talk about the puffins I saw. It made me too emotional.

The aquarium continues with tropical fish of all colours, as well as local favourites. Then there is the touch pool. Reach in and grab a shark. What could go wrong? With skin like sand paper, they were too small to do much harm – I still feel that they were looking at all the wee fingers sizing up a good meal when they saw it.

Rays were there to be pet as well, but I'd done enough touching of these crocodile hunting monsters when I was in the grand cayman, using Kath as a shield for protection.

Larger sharks were in a nearby tank, and were amazing to watch. There's something impressive about those few things which are inherently better than us. We love to watch lions, tigers, and other big cats. Wolves are impressive. Sharks have their own much-celebrated week. If we know they can kill us, then we love them by default – we just want at least an inch of protective glass separating.

The hammer head sharks were quite the sight – though small, their unique shape was peachy keen.

We watched sea horses propel themselves along with their speedy back fins, clinging for stability with tails. Then the sea dragons – a favourite of mine – took centre stage. Looking at all these things, so different and unique, I understand how evolution can be brought into question – how do these things manage to diverge and form? It's an incredible separation, yet here we are surrounded by so... much.

There was a movie about otters, and then a $4.00 4-D movie about cartoon sea turltles. After saving so much getting in, how could I resist this film? The answer? I could not. It was a joyful adventure of sea turtles travelling the world in nonsensical ways. At one point he questions our existence as men, “I was confused. On one hand, then men cutting down the tree saved my life – on the other, why would they want to destroy a beautiful forest?” right before questioning existence as a new baby being born looks around and asks, “what do I do now?” to be answered only with the, “just put one flipper in front of the other and everything else will fall into place.” These are big questions for such a small movie – but with the 4D splash of water from above, and wacky paper 3D glasses, I was sold.

Who knew the aquarium would be so much fun?

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