Kids in the kitchen: A measure of patience required

DAN RODRICKS

March 23, 1992|By Dan Rodricks

Pieces of column too short to use . . .

The combination of kids and food presents nightmarish images -- kids whipping up yogurt omelets on cutting boards (I've seen it with my own eyes, folks), kids whining about having to eat turnip greens, wild kids lobbing sticky buns halfway across a restaurant. Stepping undaunted into this arena is the imperturbable Laura Burden, who has opened her kitchen to kids, offering to teach them how to cook, set a table, serve food and display proper table manners. The concept has been a hit with working parents, and, having recently observed Laura's St. Patrick's Day class -- six girls from 6 to 9 years of age -- I would say it's something of a hit with kids, too. As Laura patiently lectured, she involved all the kids in preparing Irish soda bread, and vegetable and meat courses; they made green cookies and a lime drink, too. Lasagna was the main course during a recent Italian class. The girls seemed attentive and eager. They learned basic measurements, how to test if bread is sufficiently baked, how to open containers safely and neatly; how to fold cloth napkins and, perhaps most important of all, how to clean up. Laura will teach week-long classes this summer.

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Marveling recently at a classic Baltimore rowhouse sight -- ceramic figurines, from small animals to religious icons, in the front window -- a local historian remarked, "You know what they call that, don't ya? It's a Highlandtown burglar alarm."

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In Baltimore, "Schwing" means only one thing -- the fine motorcars of BMW, sold by the venerable Keswick Road dealership bearing that name. In "Wayne's World," however, 'schwing" is a Wayne-Garthism for sudden excitement, usually of a libidinous nature. Therefore, in Baltimore, isn't it possible that a young man, dreaming of one day owning a fine motorcar, could happen by the showroom on Keswick Road and find himself in a state of Schwing schwing?

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Judge Marshall Levin's Baltimore Circuit courtroom, site of the nation's largest asbestos-related injury trial, looks like a law school lecture hall. So many lawyers suited up for this trial, most of them in navy blue, they should wear numbers. The other day, there were six attorneys at the trial table while another stood at a lectern and questioned a witness. Behind them were 11 more lawyers, all taking notes. Seated at a table along the south wall of the courtroom were six more suits, and on the north side, just east of the jury box, were nine more lawyer-looking men and women, all taking notes. There were another eight could-be attorneys in the gallery. Mark my words: Somebody's going to get trampled on the way to a bench conference.

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I keep getting fan mail -- not for me, but for Cedric Fischer. This young man apparently has become something of a local legend in lower Charles Village, banging away at his drums, sometimes for four hours at a time, in his basement apartment on West 25th Street. "His goal is to be one of the best drummers in the world," wrote one of three fans who've dropped us lines about Cedric. "He never lets a day or night go by without one of his jam sessions. . . . When the [neighborhood] bar closes, you can count on a crowd gathering around outside to hear the pounding of the drums." We'll be paying Cedric a visit soon, especially since he's right near the Wyman Restaurant, good eats and great counter service.

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Speaking of eats, I've heard and/or sampled good things from Samos in Greektown; Troia's in Towson; the Hollywood Diner, formerly the Kids Diner, at Holliday and Saratoga streets; and Trattoria Alberto in Glen Burnie.

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Cross Street Scenes: Eddie the Chicken Man giving me a good-customer prize, a 1992 Congressional calendar autographed by Ben Cardin; Guido at Nick's Inner Harbor Seafood bragging about his hanging swordfish display; a guy walking into a bargain store on Light Street and asking a clerk to "show me your Elvis stuff."

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