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"Honey, this tastes like a bus driver made it!"

Not your idea of an after-dinner compliment? Then you haven't read Port Authority's Palate Pleasers, a 1999 cookbook with recipes contributed by local transit employees and managers. I recently found a copy at a used bookstore, and given the ongoing labor disputes and service cuts, it's a nostalgic read.

Whatever you may have heard about overpaid public workers, these are modest meals: One recipe is for "Almost KFC Chicken Pot Pie." A retiree, meanwhile, suggests "[h]ot dogs or kielbasa don't have to be plain anymore." Just prick them with a fork and "marinate in 8 oz. Coca-Cola and 3 oz. maple syrup for one hour in fridge" before grilling.   

Palate Pleasers reminds us of a time when you could actually imagine union workers and management swapping recipes. Former agency head Paul Skoutelas himself contributed a half-dozen items, like "Denise's Layered Mexican Dip." (Mash 2-3 avocados with lemon juice. On large serving dish, layer avocadoes with the following ingredients: 16 oz. refried beans, 1 jar of salsa, 1 cup sour cream, 2 cups shredded cheese, 1 bunch green onions, 2 chopped tomatoes, 4.5 oz. chopped olives, and tortilla chips. Chill and serve.)

Skoutelas's spendthrift ways and huge severance package have since made him notorious, but maybe transit leaders should bring some dip to their next meeting. Metaphorically speaking, after all, they've been eating Skoutelas' cooking for years.

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