AnhingaBy Larry Levine –

I know I’ve done more than a little griping about Florida in the last few days. But as we leave our time there behind us, I want to add a few things.

My cousin Irwin, after reading some of my earlier posts, asked if there is anything about Florida that I do like. I answered, “I like you. And I like Tillie (my aunt Tillie Tooter).

We made Florida the first stop on our vacation strictly because we wanted to visit relatives. We were not disappointed. Though we had dinner together every night, there were two meals that stood out. One was Jennifer’s meat loaf. She cooked it one night and there was enough for left overs the next night. The other was at an Italian restaurant called Capriccio in Pembroke Pines.

Jennifer and I took a day trip to Everglades National Park. It was our first ever visit and we had a lovely time. Yes, it was hot and humid. But we saw interesting wild life, including the native Anhinga pictured along with this post.

We found the Florida highways extremely well maintained and well signed, though the naming of some of the on and off ramps were a bit confusing.

But most of all, I was aware of and impressed by the multiculturalism that has grown in the state. Sure, there still are undertones of an ugly racist past, but it is fading quickly. First time I was in the area – Pembroke Pines is 30 minutes or so west of Ft. Lauderdale – 22 years ago it was virtually all white. The population of Century Village seemed to be 100% transplanted New Yorkers and almost all Jewish. I joked that I was coming home with a Brooklyn accent.

This trip could not have been more different from that time. Name a type of ethnic restaurant and you’re likely to find it there – Mexican, Peruvian, Indian, African, Persian … Housing has become largely integrated. Blacks, white, Cubans, Mexicans, Dominicans … they mix freely in the markets and restaurants and on the streets in most of the places we visited.

So, no matter how testy I may have sounded in the two previous posts, our time in Florida was enjoyable and satisfying.

2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 eggs
½ cup uncooked oatmeal
½ cup milk
½ cup diced onion
1 tsp marjoram
½ cup red wine + extra for basting
Mix all ingredients thoroughly, using your hands. Form into loaf and place on a lightly greased roasting tray. Pour extra wine over the loaf and bake in pre-headed oven at 350 degrees one hour. Baste occasionally with more red wine.


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