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10/17 2012

Buckling Down and Pipos

The Trials of the CarbonaraSometimes life be can be challenging and having a go-to place like Pipos might help ease the challenges a bit.

Having a support system is not lost on me. I never like it when Mrs. Marinara takes off for a few days for work or pleasure, but I, at least, had mad survival skills back in Virginia with said support system. These skills would include calling my folks and having them come spend the night. It might be going to the pool with friends. It was finding ways to get invited over to other people’s places for dinner. It was escaping down to the inlaws’ farm to have them run the kids ragged.

Pork RibsTake away the support system, and these little trips are now a bit more challenging. Mornings are always fun as we have to run the Lil’ Marinara to the bus stop for a 7:25 pickup. That means I have to feed both kids, pack lunches, dress a fiesty toddler, and get them out the door. My reprieve? I get to walk home, maybe take a shower, and start the work day. Once the work day completes, I pick up both boys and prepare for the evening routine. This involves feeding, cleaning, changing, and reading. After they go to bed, I get to clean up from the day, and then finally rest.

I have some amazing respect for single parents. It is a tough job. I also have sympathy for my wife, when I put her through similar rigors when I travel to DC. This parenting think is much easier when two or more people are participating.

MadurosAs part of this survival mode, cooking becomes less important. Pizza is a lifesaver as it provides dinner, but also many lunches. Dining out has its own challenges. The Carbonara, being a few months away from the age of two, has decided that throwing food and standing up in his high chair are now acceptable forms of behavior. While we do our best to correct the situation, we are sensitive to the fact that others don’t necessarily want to experience our parenting efforts. That’s why finding good, cheap and quick places are always important. Pipo’s is one of those places in the Tampa area.

Actually, there are several Pipo’s, but I am not going to get picky about the local chain thing. Pipo’s is your basic cafeteria style restaurant. There are rotating specials of about seven or eight Cuban/ Latin entrees sitting in steam trays, ready to be served up on plates. There is another menu full of sandwiches and other entrees if not satisfied with the specials.

The snob at me wants to stick my nose up at food sitting in steam trays, but I am not naive enough to think that half the food that is prepared behind closed doors isn’t prepared ahead of time. At least, I get to scout my food before ordering it. The real advantage is that the food is plated for you right then and there. No waiting. So even if I wanted to order food from the other menu, I could get the kids food from the specials and they are ready to go as soon as we sit down.

I realize that I have become “that guy”. I have lost my standards to my children. I heard a person once tell me that “Truth is only true within the context of relationship.” If my relationship with my children defines how I eat, well, then that is my reality. I have to deal with it.

So anyway, I have been to Pipo’s several times. I’ve tried the roast pork, I’ve tried the spicy chicken, I’ve tried the ribs. All were good, but not great. I’m not trying to be negative. It’s the nature of the beast. So for what it is, the food is good. It’s good enough for me to make return visits. Truth is that I know that there is better Cuban cuisine in Tampa, however, I’m not so sure there is a better Cuban restaurant for my family in the area.