About Me

My little button

Our Little Tongginator

Blog Archive

Design by

Weaksauce Blogs
Monday, July 20, 2009

If it's good enough for Bill Cosby...

Here's hoping our family isn't the only one that does this...

How many of you live near a totally incredible or historically significant tourist attraction, but you've never actually been to see it? It's happened more times than I can count with the husband and me. George Washington's house, Mount Vernon? I lived less than five miles from it, but it took me over 10 years to actually take the tour. Diamond Head on the island of Oahu? Never climbed it, even though I lived less than thirty minutes from it for over three years. The Washington Monument? I haven't actually walked inside of it, despite being in the DC area for almost 20 years.

And then there's Ben's Chili Bowl...

It's practically An Institution in Washington, DC... an African-American owned diner landmark that opened its doors in 1958. Ben's has withstood neighborhood ups and downs for over 50 years, one of the few businesses to survive the 1968 riots that occurred after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the metro construction two decades later during the late eighties. In 1985, Bill Cosby - who courted his wife Camille during countless dates at Ben's in the sixties - held a national press conference inside the diner to celebrate his new hit "The Cosby Show." This past January, President-Elect Barack Obama ate there just days before his inauguration.

And I'd never been...

We probably still would never have gone (because I can't eat chili and... ya know... it's called Ben's CHILI Bowl), if not for some imaginary-turned-real-life friends coming into town. Aunt Lolo and her family dragged us along to the diner... and boy are we glad they did. We had a blast meeting up with them for the very first time AND touring a part of the city we'd never seen. I loved meeting Aunt Lolo, her hubby and two adorable kids. They are just the sweetest family.

Aunt Lolo, Lou Gung, daughter BBJ and son Siu Jeun

Of course we didn't get a chance to chat all THAT much, what with two little ones and the Tongginator keeping us busy within the tight confines of a small diner. Plus, we stumbled into a Ben's Chili Bowl history lesson, led by an employee who taught us a ton, but loved to chat... and chat... and chat. I swear he was the Energizer Bunny of the talking world, but he shared enough to make me realize that Ben's Chili Bowl is a must-go stop on a Washington, DC tour. The food is less of a draw than the atmosphere and history, but the chili half-smoke is a favorite of Bill Cosby. Restaurant reviewers say that Ben's is at its best during breakfast, but the Tongginator seemed to enjoy her strawberry milk shake ("it tastes like Captain Crunch, Momma!") and the husband ate ALL of his chili cheese fries.

Be still his clogging arteries.

Er... on second thought... bad choice of words. Keep beating away, Husband's heart. I'd like you around for a few more years... at least until we get the Tongginator's college paid for, anyways.

Aunt Lolo dragged along a large group of her in-laws, who loved chatting it up with the Tongginator, trying to see how much conversational Mandarin she actually understood. Yeah... THAT was funny to watch, seeing as how most conversations don't involve chanting off colors or fruits one by one, counting to 100 or singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" in two languages. The Tongginator may know just over 200 Mandarin words, but don't think the girl can actually string them together in a sentence. Heh.

What a great looking bunch... probably because I cropped all
members of Tonggu House out of the photo. The Tongginator
does have a cute ear and elbow though, doesn't she?

Aunt Lolo is just like you'd imagine her to be if you read her blog... she is sweet, with just enough tart to keep her funny, and her children are SO stinkin cute. I have to say, though, that I'm not at all bitter about a tad judgmental of Aunt Lolo's mothering abilities...

Aunt Lolo with her adorable, nearly three-year-old BBJ

... because, at the end of the evening, after the Tongginator learned that Aunt Lolo cooks Chinese food well and often, my darling daughter turned to her and asked wistfully, "Will you be my Mommy so I can come and live at your house?"

Traitor. What a precocious child.

I guess this proves Mrs. R's theory that the way to a Tongginator's heart is through her stomach. And I guess it also let's y'all know that I'm not exactly known for my culinary skills. Ah, well... we can always pop on over to Ben's for a Captain Crunch milkshake.


Something tells me the Tongginator wouldn't mind.

20 comments:

happygeek said...

Don't worry. Once T starts school you will hit all the landmarks on fieldtrips. Lucky you!!!!!

The other night we picked my son up from spending a week at his cousins. He told us to take him back to my sister's house or he would die. So, I feel your pain.

Mary @ Parenthood said...

Heh - we live in Ottawa (Canada) and there are probably hundreds of tourist things we haven't done, even though my husband grew up here and I've lived here for sixteen years.

When we got married, we decided to honeymoon here (yup, I'm serious when I say I hate to travel!). One of the things on our to-do list was to take a tour of the parliament buildings, which is probably the #1 attraction on the things to do in Ottawa. Of course we never got around to it...

We did manage to take a tour on one of the duck boats that sank the following year though.

Buckeroomama said...

I have a German friend who just came to Hong Kong last year and she's been to more places here than I have been in my over 14 years here!

Myrnie said...

What fun! Man, you're brave to go out eating with that crew. Lo Gung has a sister who is TINY, but could eat you and your entire family UNDER THE TABLE.

Isn't it fun to do local things? It's the perfect vacation, because you don't have to travel and everyone is well-rested! About once a year we hit the town and just try out something local we've never done before :) Still TONS that we haven't got to yet!

Sarah said...

Haven't you heard? True metro residents stay away from anything popular in the area. It's like a law. The only place I went to when I lived down there was the zoo, and that was for class before anything else. And the Lincoln monument? Let's not go there.....

jen@odbt said...

{Raise hand} I don't think I've ever been in the Wash Monument either. Isn't it funny how out of towners make you "see" your hometown - I take it for granted too. What a fun IRL get together.

Sharie said...

I know what you mean! We have a wonderful art museum that I've been to 1 time - an assignment for college.

Now if we had national monuments I might be tempted to go in order to avoid Chuck E Cheeses!

Carla said...

Oh so jealous of meeting Aunt Lolo! We missed that landmark, so I guess that's for next time. LOL

Jennifer said...

When we visited DC in Dec 2005, we made a point to find and visit Ben's Chili Bowl. And boy are we glad we did. It was yummy and the atmosphere was great. We were without children at the time and sat at the counter to watch all the action.

Glad you had a chance to visit!

The Gypsy Mama said...

Ooooo Ben's Chili Bowl - deee-li-cious! You were practically in my backyard, you know! (well, my work back yard at least!)

Desiree' said...

I think every child goes through this...many times. Our daughter would gladly live out her days at Papa's house over us. LOL
Could you email me the mandarin classes? Hope has gone through all her cd's and we are stuck with colors, numbers and animals....

Briana's Mom said...

When we eventually hit the DC area one day, we have to hit that diner. I will put on my to do list.

I laughed out loud when the Tongginator asked to live with Aunt Lolo!

Anonymous said...

LOL This left me smiling from beginning to end! Yes, have been guilty of that too before, but now "try" to expose our monkeys to more culutre! Ben's actually sounds like just the right blend of culture and yummy! That rates high in my book, ya know! ;)

You are one funny gal....so glad our paths crossed!
P.S. The Sunday links...not through 'em all yet, but very thought provoking.

Lisa of destination-taiwan who can only comment in anonymous for some annoying reason today...grrrr.... :)

Sherri said...

Ok...we will definitely have to hit this spot on our trip!! Reading this post makes me want to go now!

Shawnstribe said...

hee hee i love the tonginator!!!!!!
hee heewhat a girl!!!
xxx
s

Mom to 5...Daughter of the King said...

What a riot! And I want to go to Ben's!!!

Jboo said...

Funny! Will have to add that place to the list of sites to see in good ole DC!!

Janet

Aunt LoLo said...

What happened to my comment?? Maybe I never left it.

Either way...I'm blushing, and reading this makes me miss you all all over again! Tell Miss T that the offer still stands. ;-)

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Isn't it funny how you have these places right around the corner and you never go?? We have a few places like this too...

I am definitely putting this place on the must go list. What a fun place to meet up with a bloggy friend....and family!!

Lisa

prechrswife said...

Looks like a fun visit, and I know what you mean about the landmarks. We have visited the fort in St. Augustine, but haven't been to Disney or the space center yet, and we only see the Daytona speedway when we drive by on our way to somewhere like the mall...