Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I Don’t Get It

January 10, 2014

Big Mac 2

Roy Kroc, the man who made McDonald’s into the purveyor of billions of Big Macs, Royales with Cheese, and reconstituted French Fries once said that “As long as you’re green you’re growing.  As soon as you’re ripe, you rot”.  Look at the photo above and meditate upon that metaphor.

That burger is about fifteen years old.  Recalling how my brother would drive and hour and a half to McDs when he was a geologist in a uranium mine in the middle of nowhere Wyoming I decided to give him one for his birthday many years ago.  Figured I should make sure preparation was up to snuff so took a bite before wrapping it up.

He was thrilled and I was pleased.  I’m older and have always looked out for him and taken pains with instruction related to the Golden Rule.  Imagine then how greatly I was moved when six months later I loosed a ribbon on a box from him and found the same sandwich!

Not to overdo a good thing and drain the exchange of its cathartic potential,  we don’t pass the two patties, special sauce,  sesame seed bun, et al back and forth more often than every several years.  I’d forgotten about it in fact and was thus thrilled to find it in a package for me under the Christmas Tree this year. J

Back to the metaphor.  From the one mouthful, I can attest to its original ripeness, but as you can see there was no subsequent rot to the rest.  No rodent, bug, bacteria, or bit of mold has ever paid it the least attention.  It is not at all fragile.  A recent incredulous visitor knocked it off of my desk by accident and reassembly was a snap.

I don’t get it.  Could McDonald’s have the key to immortality?

Lincoln Cafe

September 2, 2011


  Henry Adams wrote about visiting Chartres, the magnificent gothic cathedral rising from the plains of central France: “For a first visit, choose some pleasant morning when the lights are soft, for one wants to be welcome, and the cathedral has moods…”*  I thought of that last weekend as I drove into Mt. Vernon, Iowa for dinner at the Lincoln Café. 

  It was obviously late in the afternoon not morning, but the quality of the light bathing the limestone bits of Cornell College protruding above the trees in the distance was similar to what it would have been twelve hours earlier. 

  Numinous.  And that sight, at the end of a ninety minute drive through Midwestern verdant fertility, was both perfect denouement as well as a cerebretory set of stage.  The Lincoln Café is no ordinary restaurant and to arrive with a mixed up everday mind would diminish the experience and you’d never know what you’d missed.

  It’s marked by an unassuming main street storefront and, well, is equally spare neutral inside.  No distractions – food’s the thing.  Be on time.  No reservations.  We were the first there at 4:45.  Nice looking lady with white templed glasses looked through the glass part of the door, unlocked, and then opened at 5:00 sharp.  All tables filled by 5:05.  Another seating’s worth of uninitiates turned away.

  There’s a menu and the burgers that walked by looked good and I’ll probably try one someday, but the stuff on the chalkboard was that for which we’d traveled.  One appetizer.  Three main course selections.  Three deserts.  All ingredients nearby local fresh.  Frequent minor changes due to short supply chain.  Major overhaul about every ten days.

  We did start by sharing the House Braunsweiger, shaved onion, mayo, and butter lettuce.  My thirty four years of wedded bliss that day wife had for her main course: Roasted Organic Chicken with avocado crema, masa cakes, peanut truffle jus, wilted local lettuce, soft egg, and blue lake beans.

  Me? I had Overnight Heritage Pork Belly, local peaches, sweet corn,  black pepper fiddle faddle, and dried cornbread cubes.    Let me put it like this:  There is just enough of each of those bits on the plate about for which your senses to marvel and to which the rest plays counterpoint.  And be assured, while complex, it is joyful music in a major key with utensils playing percussion.

  Desert? Yep. We chose to share the Toasted Walnut Cake, with vanilla infused local peach, and balsamic vinegar ice cream.  Wow.  The walnuts sang above the din in baritone, the peach with sultry languor, and the ice cream rang with OMG pizzazz. 

  No booze.  So either bring your own or buy from their nearby wine bar and save corkage fee.  We brought a bottle of a Sonoma white Rhone blend for which daughter had been winemaker and a Napa Cabernet which we’d bought upon birth of other daughter.

  Total investment?  Would have been less than you’d spend at most places that serve heaping platters of continental paper mache – especially if you bring your own grape juice.  To our surprise though, this fine repas was free.  Our three kids had called ahead!

*Henry Adams, Mont-St-Michel and Chartres, 1904

**Lincoln Café website: