We don’t dine out or take in much. The philosophy behind that is simple: it is cheaper (usually) to cook yourself and you know what ingredients went in. We also believe that dining out should be reserved for special occasions and not for the sake of being lazy to cook at home. Lastly, why go out if you can make it or something better yourself? The only exception to that are ethnic foods that we wouldn’t do justice to at home (e.g. sushi).
We do, however, have a weakness for take-in from a mom-n-pop shop (aka Baba and Deda). When visiting, my parents bring a cooler, a BIG cooler, of delicious foods which we treat as if they were precious delicacies from the Orient. Evan and I agree that while some things like my mom’s famous sous are just plain old delicious, they are not the delicacies we equate to edible gold. Blintzes stuffed with vanilla perfumed farmer’s cheese or savory ones with meat, home-made chicken soup, perfectly seared chicken cutlets, hand-formed deep-fried pirogies stuffed with potatoes or cabbage, and last but never least, strudel are worth their weight in gold at our house.
Most of those items take a long time to make and years of continuous practice to get right. No matter how much I’d like to, I won’t be able to produce crepes as paper thin as my mom for the stuffed blintzes. Evan encourages (okay, sometimes demands) that I cook more Russian dishes at home and learn all the recipes from my mom. It’ll be years before anything I make from my mom’s repertoire is as good as hers, but I suppose I can try. Until then, every last blintz is carefully doled up and little Sophia gets first dibs on anything and everything Baba makes.
I only wish we lived closer so that my blintzes didn’t have to be frozen, but rather delivered fresh.