Tuesday, September 25, 2012


When I was little, my parents discovered the most wonderful place: Tepanyaki. It was a paradise of food entertainment, intoxicating smells, and wonderful, wonderful food. My parents liked it so much that they decided to risk taking their five small children there. At the same time.

And thus began the traditional, once-a-year outing, one we took in honor of the August birthdays and then in honor of the August and September birthdays (today there are six in all).

Yesterday I prepared myself appropriately for this great event. I didn't make myself eat carrots for lunch because I knew I'd be getting a healthy helping of vegetables at dinner. I didn't eat anything after 1:00 p.m. to ensure I would be adequately starving by the time dinner was served. I blotted out my dinner plans for the next two nights because even after eating my delicious fill, I would still have leftovers to enjoy the next day.

But then, just minutes before arriving at the restaurant, I got a call from my dad: Tepanyaki was closed. Not just for dinner, but forever. No more giant waves of flame at the dinner table. No more onion-ring volcanoes. No more being served airborne shrimp.

We had a terrible crisis on our hands.

I was all for succumbing to the depression of foiled dinner plans and tarnished memories, but Tiffany and Jeremy immediately presented us with a way salvage our Autumnal birthday celebration in the future: go to Tucanos instead. With its endless array of food fit for the Carnivore Kings that we are (not to mention the mashed potatoes are to die for), we all agreed this was an acceptable alternative.

And thus a new tradition was born.

I am not one that generally welcomes change, and seeing one of my favorite, 15-year-old traditions come to an end was heartbreaking in a way. It was at Tepanyaki, not Tucanos, that we fed two-year-old Shannan the onion soup just so we could laugh at her facial expressions. It was at Tepanyaki, not Tucanos, that Dad taught us how to eat with chopsticks (of course, most of us gave up on those silly sticks when the growling of our stomachs got louder than the sizzling meat on the table). We didn't need menus because we had our meals picked out a year in advance; it was okay if we didn't understand what the chef was saying because we had his "script" memorized better than he did; we knew which tricks to watch for and they never got old. We were the most loyal once-a-year customers at the place.

I would have gladly kept that tradition going forever, but maybe it's not such a bad thing that circumstances have forced us to change. A similar thing happened when we discontinued our Rushton/Carter Christmas Eve celebration so we could celebrate that special night with our own families. It was sad at first, but it was necessary in order to create new cherishable memories.

Only time will tell what how Tucanos will contribute to our August/September birthday dinner. In the meantime, though, I'm glad there's still a Tepanyaki in Lehi.

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