No matter how far away from home I go, I’ll always be able to find it somewhere. I might have to look hard, but I’ll find it come hell or high water. I found it last night, actually, and it required absolutely no searching whatsoever. Home came in the form of an Outback Steakhouse, attached to the mall closest to school, to which we went in search of Secret Santa presents. Right after our arrival, I remembered there was an Outback Steakhouse and with that thought, my mouth became a virtual waterfall, a sudden deluge of desire for a Bloomin’ Onion. The sentence I was able to say to Dennis sounded a little something like this: “Outback…here…food…starving…Now?”
And so we went and chowed down. The drinks were served in frozen mugs (something I haven’t seen here in ever), the ribs we ordered were huge and coated in a thick franchise-consistent BBQ sauce, and the Bloomin’ Onion? Bloomin’ awesome. With absolutely no shame at all, we sat silently stuffing our mouths full of the flavors of home and in between bites, while our stomachs revolted at the sudden intake of saturated fats, we got in some conversation about actual home. Top 5 things we’re looking forward to. Top 5 people we want to see. Top 5 places we want to go. We were, in fact, so wrapped up in our home conversation that at one point I looked around and thought, for one split second, that I was home. The signs in Outback are all in English, all the decorations monitored by a corporation and created specifically for Outback. The layout of the room, indeed everything down to the flavor of the bread and the feel of that huge steak knife in my hand told me I was home. So I reacted with much surprise when our waiter asked us in Portuguese if we wanted to order anything else, any other side dishes, any dessert. I could barely get a response out in his language and I think I threw in a couple “yeahs” for good measure. We could have been in any town, anywhere in the United States last night and while it was, perhaps, appropriate for this, our final week in Brazil before going home for summer holiday when we are looking forward to going home, I think I would have been weirded out by the American-ness of the experience if we’d gone any other time.
The truth is, it’s nice to step back home once in a while. I liked last night, tasting flavors I haven’t had in years. I liked looking around the room and seeing home, knowing I really wasn’t. And even though the home I experienced last night is a chain restaurant, it was fun for me. I have no problems with that. When you want to be home, you take what you can get. Last night I took a fried onion and some horseradish sauce, washed it down with a cold drink, cut off a piece of soft brown bread, and called it home. I’ll be in my real home in four days. I just needed a little flavor to tie me over ’til then.