Saturday, April 18, 2015

Borscht Belt South

Caloosahatchee River, Florida
26 47.33 N 081 14.76 W

Libby and I lived most of our years in upstate NY.  Therefore, we were familiar with The Borscht Belt as something quasi-local.  The Belt was quite famous in American folklore.  It was known best for the stand up comedians who worked there before Las Vegas became big, and also for the movie Dirty Dancing.

Well known resorts of the area included Brickman's, Brown's Hotel, The Concord, Friar Tuck Inn, Gibber's, Gilbert's, Grossinger's, Granit, the Woodbine Hotel, the Heiden Hotel, Irvington, Kutsher's Hotel and Country Club, Lansman's, the Nevele,The Laurels Hotel and Country Club, The Pines Resort, Raleigh, Silverman's River View Hotel, Stevensville, Stiers, the Tamarack Lodge, and the Windsor Regency.

Well, I was hired once  by The Concord, to teach a week-long course on computer programming.   It was quite an experience.  The first thing that surprised me were the size of the closets in my room.  There were two closets, each big enough to hold a billiard table.   

Next, I was shocked when I ate in the dining room.  It was low season so I sat alone at a table for 12.  The shocking part was the mountains of food, and the behavior of the waiters who kept pestering me to eat more more more.   They kept shoveling more food onto my plate even though I protested, "No No No."

Finally, I figured the whole thing out.  The patrons of The Borscht Belt  were mostly Jews from NYC.   They came to places like  The Concord as the final act of pleasure in their lives.  The closets were so big because people brought all the clothes they owned.  They didn't plan on returning to their Manhattan apartments ever.  Instead, they would eat themselves to death while enjoying entertainment.   The truth was that The Borscht Belt  was actually a refined form of assisted suicide.

I was thinking of The Borscht Belt  last night as I ate my meal at The Log Cabin BBQ in Labelle.  I was enjoying my fried catfish, and I also enjoyed most of Libby's prime ribs, as I studied the rest of the menu and fantasised over eating everything listed.  The menu concluded with:
Cabin Feast: includes cole slaw, baked beans, Texas toast, and choice of potato: baked, sweet, french fries, or daily vegetable.  Whole smoked chicken, ribs and pork ... enough to feed all your kids. Served family style.
My fantasy was to eat that Cabin Feast, at the end of which my arteries would be completely blocked and I would die with a smile on my face.   Now I truly grok  The Borscht Belt .

Libby and I manage to find an excuse to visit The Log Cabin BBQ at least once per year, hopefully twice.

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