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A little less than a year ago, I visited The Melting Pot restaurant in Framingham, MA for the first time, with Friend from Cowboy/Ski-Pole Country.  For our meal, we were seated at a lovely booth for two, in a section of the restaurant I later found out is called “Lovers Lane”, and the server thought we were lesbians.  Full story is here.

Now a Melting Pot has opened in Providence much to the delight of Jewish Friend.  The first week it opened, we stopped there before their opening time and were offered a tour by a very eager girl.  Because I had already eaten a handful of mints by this point, put another handful in my purse, and didn’t want to be rude, I acquiesced and dragged Jewish Friend along.  Later that afternoon we came back and had our first vat of cheese at that place.

Next week we went back again, and last night Jewish Friend said “I’ll buy you Melting Pot as a way of saying thank-you for watching my cat while I’m gone.”  Jewish Friend’s rewards are actually usually just things that she wants to do, rather than something I might choose, but she does this in a charming way, and I don’t dislike Melting Pot, I’m just a little bored by it.

It seems too, that for people to go to Melting Pot as often as we is not quite standard.  Every time we go, they ask if we’ve been before.  We say “yes” and assure them that there is no need to give us the entire pre-order speech, we don’t want the “Big Night Out” and we know better than to touch the burner.

They usually give us a slightly stripped-down, but still annoying version of the speech anyway.

Last night, Jewish Friend insisted that I call Melting Pot as we drove there and make a reservation.  When I did, the girl told me that it would be a 45-minute wait, so I hung up on her.

“They’re liars.” I told Jewish Friend, “we’ll just go there, and sit in the bar, it’ll be fine.”  Since we’re there so often, I’ve noticed that Melting Pot is very self-important when it comes to available seating, and they mostly just don’t like drop-ins.  Jewish Friend and I are two very small girls, they can fit us just about anywhere.

Once we got there, we were told we could wait for a booth or sit at the bar, just like I predicted.  We sat in the bar, ate our vat of cheese followed by a vat of chocolate, and everything was just fine.

After the meal Jewish Friend excused herself to go to the bathroom, and the manager came up to me.

“Have you guys ever been here before?” he asked, like they always do.

“This is our third time.” I told him.

“At this location?”

I just shrugged and indicated Jewish Friend’s empty chair, “She really, really likes fondue.  We come here pretty often.”

We chatted a bit more until Jewish Friend came back from the bathroom, and then he excused himself with a “Hope to see you ladies again soon.”

Perhaps I’m being hyper-sensitive about this, but I think the fact that Melting Pot is so completely designed for couples makes the staff think that anyone who eats there is one.  This is compounded by the fact that Jewish Friend and I eat there all the time, and I refer to us as a “we” when asked.  There is no good way to sort of fold in: “by we, I mean we straight/ successful gal-pals who eat too much cheese, but are not a couple.”

At least Jewish Friend is hot.

I’d been going to school in England for a couple weeks before my friends and I noticed that all of the cheese was white. Here we were, in the land where Cheddar was invented, and all the cheese we encountered was as pasty and pallid as the English people themselves. I know that orange cheddar cheese is dyed (the reason, I don’t know), but I was unsettled by the fact that I kept ordering cheese sandwiches, and they always had only white cheese on them. It tasted different, just slightly. Maybe it’s the whole “you eat with your eyes first” thing that FoodChannel espouses, and my eyes were put off by the unappealing color of my sandwich.

We went to London one afternoon, and ended up at the Hard Rock Café. My brother collects shot glasses from Hard Rocks (I don’t get it, but if I ever say anything about it he tells me to fuck off and quit being an asshole), so I promised to pick one up. We decided that if we had to go to a Hard Rock, we might as well get a shot and shot glass. So we bellied up to the bar, ordered some shots, and saw a server bringing out a plate of nachos for another table.

The nachos were covered, coated, with bright, unnaturally orange cheese, dotted with happy-looking jalepenos, bright red salsa, and black olives. It was the most colorful meal we’d seen in weeks. So we stayed at the Hard Rock, ordered 2 plates of nachos, and got very drunk.

The Hard Rock Café originated in London and was celebrating its 25th anniversary at the time. We met this waitress who had worked there all 25 years, and now travels around signing autographs and posing for pictures. That doesn’t mean that our doing this wasn’t lame, but slightly less than if we had been in any other city. It was cultural; we learned a lot.

I haven’t seen any orange cheddar here in Rhode Island. There are more varieties of cheddar here than I’ve ever seen in my life: Vermont, New York, New York Sharp, New York Extra Sharp, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Sharp, and more that I can’t remember—all white. The only orange cheese I’ve seen is the shredded kind. There is no orange brick cheese at any Stop N Shop I’ve been to.

Also, I’m familiar with New York Sharp Cheddar, but Vermont? What does that mean? How is it different? What is Vermont known for besides Ben and Jerry’s and Howard Dean? I’ve been experimenting, and I have a brick of Vermont in my fridge right now, but I haven’t tried it yet.