Another one from “Notes About Growing Up & Kin”. This time food consumed while suffering from college “drunk munchies”.
From time to time I mention food or restaurants in my books and here is another one of them, which also mentions one place I have written about before as well – Taco Inn in fact. But this Note will cover more than just the food; it will weave in the sometimes dark subject of college drunkenness and the always resulting munchies.
Let’s start with Taco Inn, described above as you know. When I was a freshman and sophomore at UNT – then called NTSU, and before that NTSC when my parents went there – I lived in Kerr Hall by Eagle Drive on the south side of the campus. Looking out the window by my dorm room which looked south over the parking lot and Eagle Drive what was just across the street? Yes, beloved Taco Inn where I had happily eaten I was a kid. And eat again there I did. I was drunk most of the times I did it then unlike before. Well, many of you know that when at college and mom and dad aren’t looking you get wasted more than you once did. And when you got blitzed you got what? You got the munchies. So on nights when we quaffed at the dorm we stumbled across Eagle Drive to get piles of nachos, tacos, and burritos. We sat in the restaurant and ate, probably talking loud and belching like human foghorns, or sometimes we got it to go and ate back in our rooms perhaps with our last cold beers. Even if the food might have been average it was a grand feast to us, perhaps only because of the booze, and was a regular thing we did even after leaving the cocoon of the dorm.
Now Captain Nemo’s was another beloved place for grub and was just east on Eagle a bit. Nemo’s had subs like New York Subway did but these were hot and filled with all manner of meat & melted cheese goodness. And the bread was grilled or toasted which added a crispy texture to the molten mélange held between the baked and bready folds. And these hot hoagies were long and narrow too, no short, chubby grinder was built there for hungry students. And you always got a double – especially the legendary cheese steak – when you ordered, never a half. A single size sandwich was reserved only for the weak and unworthy. Or sober. If you were a man you ate a whole Nemo’s especially if you were blitzed of course, but that goes without saying.
Finally, my trifecta of taste ends with Bruto’s Pizza which was just across the north edge of campus and down the street from Voertman’s beloved book store. What was special about Bruto’s was the crust. It was more like a savory pie crust than the usual floppy stuff that adorns most takeout pizza. It was always crunchy in a good, firm way that was a great contrast to the gooey goodness of the cheese and toppings that covered its thin, round shell. We never ate Bruto’s when we were sober, never that I can recall (maybe I was too drunk to remember?). We always had tons of beer and sometimes pot which we primed our consumption pumps with before calling in our order. Of course we had to drive to get it since they never delivered. No matter how we got the fresh pies they hungrily vanished down our gaping young maws into our ever deepening stomachs bloated by too much junk food and cheap beer. And then one day Bruto’s was no more…..
Yes, like many good mom and pop joints Bruto’s went of business for some reason. I do not know why, but I Googled it once and saw that the owner had died via his obituary in the Denton “Wretched” Chronicle – sorry Bill P., you know folks call it that. I also saw a name of a relative and found her on Facebook and after a decent interval sent her a message asking for the crust recipe for my own personal use (I am bad at cooking pizza). I never heard back from her and thus the secret of Bruto’s fabulous and unusual crust passed with him, at least as far as we outsiders are concerned.
And what a shame that is to me. So many restaurants come and go like the wind changing – it is a hard business to succeed in – even when they have a product that rose far above the usual mundane fare you normally eat. But mundane was not Bruto’s name and when I try to make pizza crust like his and always fail I still honor his name and crunchy, perfect crust. If you look back on your life I bet you too have more than one beloved and now lost recipe that you yearn for even now.
Author’s note: Captain Nemo’s lives on as the founder’s son and his family still own and operate a store in Irving, Texas. Taco Inn and Bruto’s sadly remain lost and remain only as memories to the generations who once ate there now age and move on to other hopefully tasty fare.