Cherished Memory

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Mama by the Bay, she's immortalized in the flavor of her exquisite cuisine.

Submitted: January 28, 2018

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Submitted: January 28, 2018



I had my first taste of New England clam chowder overlooking the salty bay in a borough of Panama City known as St. Andrews.  I call it Old Town, because it was the first place settled in Bay County.  Old Town is older than downtown Panama City.  Well, when I was a little youngan, I was taken out to eat a couple of times each month to a restaurant over by the Old Town marina.  There was an ancient little white-haired Italian woman everybody called Mama Campisi.  The name of her restaurant was Mama Campisi’s.  She moved her restaurant to a bigger building at the Old Town marina the year after a demolition crew dynamited the Dixie Sherman hotel in April of 1970.  I was born in April of 1969.  I never went to the Dixie Sherman.  It was an antique, before my time.  I had never had New England clam chowder, either.  I didn’t even know what it was.  I never shall forget that first spectacular taste.  I was sitting in a posh tall-back chair upholstered with soft cushy blood-red velvet.  That huge heavy chair was way bigger than I.  The table, draped in silky satin, was at my chin.  There were those colored glass candle dishes with the little nets tightly wrapped around them, the candle flame flickering merrily inside.  I had been handed one of those spoons where the part you put in your mouth is perfectly round, a soup spoon I think it’s called.  I cautiously dipped up a spoonful of that thick white steaming stuff from the cup before me and when I put it in my mouth, my taste buds were instantly transported to culinary paradise.  I fell passionately in love with New England clam chowder.  For years I didn’t think there was anything in this world as delicious as New England clam chowder.  I wanted to eat at Mama Campisi’s every night.  While others were satisfied with a cup, I ate two whole big bowls of New England clam chowder every time I experienced the gourmet delight of dining at Mama Campisi’s.  She would come sit at the table and talk to you, actually sit with you at your table and talk as if she were one of your family or you her family.  I liked Mama Campisi very much and to this day I totally adore New England clam chowder.  The restaurant has been closed for many years.  I suppose she must be dead by now, but I’ll always cherish the memory of my first savory mouthful of New England clam chowder at the little old Italian lady’s restaurant overlooking the glistening tidewater where the sweet aroma of the salty Gulf breezes landward through the rustling palm fronds amid the enchanting shimmer of a million trillion stars that sparkle without end.

© Copyright 2018 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

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