It’s almost been two years since I moved from my comfortable but stagnant life in Cleveland to a consistently strange and changing existence in Los Angeles. The first few weeks felt like I was just passing through; like neither the city or my heart wanted me to stay for long. Then came the new friends, the shit jobs, the long nights and boring days. Life had gotten normal and just recently I realized that I wasn’t home sick any more. I didn’t have the desire, late at night, to move back to Tremont or get the old band back together. I had gotten through the hard part like a junkie who finally ditches the spins and is only puking a few times a day.
It feels good that I no longer have that pinch in my chest when I see Lebron James throw resin in the air. Or a tear in my eye when I watch the opening montage in Major League. But there is one thing I cannot replace, cannot forget and will not turn my back on. The food.
I miss Cleveland food. Lake Erie Perch (deep fried), Walleye, perogies, corned beef and sauerkraut, beer, sausage, chili and meatloaf. I’m sure some of these foods can be found in southern California but not EVERYWHERE like back home.
Take in point Sokolowskis. Heaven. Pure European magic in all it's German, Polish and Irish glory. The gut busting portions, the overheard office gossip when standing in that long line, the polka, the beer in buckets, the PORTIONS.
Over my last four trips home, I have visited this gem at lest six times. That’s more than I ever did in 28 years of living in Cleveland. What was I thinking all of those years? The meat loaf is better than any of your mothers could ever make, the perogies a rite of passage as a Midwesterner, the Salisbury steak acting like insulation for your body: helping you survive the last few months of winter.
It’s no wonder the walls are lined with 8x10s of every Cleveland legend you can remember. It’s home within home. A stroll away from downtown, stones throw from Tremont, Ohio City and Lakewood. An institution and now, sadly, a memory for me and my empty stomach that has been holding on to a dream that Los Angeles could have something as greasy, homely and truly amazing as Sokolowskis. So far… no go. But it’s not enough to make me home sick, no, just really hungry and a little nostalgic. I could get off of this lap top and cook myself something instead of complaining and strolling down this beaten up memory lane. But there's always In N Out Burger or the taco truck parked down the street. I guess somethings change but my poor eating habits just find other places to get their fix.