There is a regional chain restaurant that once served as default gathering place with food, for our circle of friends. Relatively cheap, they never batted an eye at seating five or nine or eleven people, though many of the chairs were uncomfortable in the name of quaintness. The service could be slow and difficult, water glasses were filled obsessively and over objections, other diners often broke out in the singing of Happy Birthday, abetted by the waitstaff, flash photography was common, children scampered unchecked. The menu had few real choices, spaghetti with a selection of tomato sauces, and a chicken breast entree. The Italian sodas priced beyond my meager budget at the time, although once in a while I would have a chocolate soda instead of a meal. Rich desserts that I never tried. Spumoni was included, so why would I?
And there was spaghetti with browned butter mizithra. Comfort food, the most reliable choice, since the other sauces varied in quality. Not a pretty, showy meal, but simply wonderful, warm and good.
The evening that D had his four hour surgery for the shattered elbow, kept in the hospital overnight, all those years ago, his friends gathered me up and took me there to eat, ordered this dish, and beer, for me. Refused to take no, I'm fine, really, for an answer. I loved them for their kindness. I still do. Because that was not isolated generosity, but the first glimpse into their characters.
Lately, mizithra cheese has been showing up at the local grocery store. I have not yet gathered the wherewithal to try to make it at home.