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Monday, September 27, 2010

A Side of Fried Potatoes

On the warm, lush, first morning of autumn, I drove past many walkers and joggersup and about for the health benefits, I suppose.  I however, was up and about for the hash browns.   Oh dear.  Did I say that out loud? Really, it was the change of scenery I was after, I swear.

Prior to summer schedule interruptions, Thursday was Library Day and last week, I finally plugged it back on the agenda, though, not without the same issue as before; I’m ready to go by 8:00 a.m. and the library doesn’t open until 10:00. Can you imagine? Those of you who have been reading Middle Passages for a while know most Thursdays mornings I’d go to the French Café in town for a cup of coffee while waiting. Sometimes I’d write as I sipped my brew, other times I’d write later about what I observed while sipping, but for some reason, this past Thursday, I wanted to experience something different.

It is easier to observe things when they feel new and fresh, I guess, and as it happens, in the resort town next to us, there is a coffee shop that I don’t get to very often. The sign on the back wall there says: “If you are in a hurry, you are in the wrong place.” My husband and daughter don’t like to go there on weekends, because you can wait a long time but a wait was what I was after last week, as it would give me plenty of time to pen observations into my notebook. The delay can also be worth it if you order their killer hash browns—though of course, that had no impact on my decision to visit. It was all about the writing exercise. Honest.

So, I rather than traveling my regular Thursday route, I drove over the causeway past my favorite two boats plus two walkers who didn’t even glance at them, over the town line to a seaside settlement that was built on the long flat peninsula cutting between Massachusetts Bay and Boston Harbor. The second you are over the line, the light brightens from the ambient shadows and colors wrought by thick woods, hills and winding roads and becomes clear and luminous on the flat, treeless streets lined with shingled cottages built between the ocean and the bay.

Jiggling over the rutted bumps that dapple these weathered streets, I arrived my at destination which sits at the bottom corner of a brick condominium building, positioned on land formerly occupied by an old amusement park. Across the street, a seasonally empty parking lot stretches to where a cement sea wall stands at attention and eyes a high-tide beach.

Inside the eatery, ten or so tables are surrounded by walls decked with kitschy signs like: “What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it is all about?” and “Be nice or leave.” A three-quarter wall blocks the view of the kitchen from the rest of the place and is stacked with antique toasters, old fashioned soda fountain equipment, and even a tall, red and green tin labeled “Premium Saltines,” exactly like the one my mother used when we were growing up.

I jotted all these images down in my blue notebook after ordering, until the man at the table next to me leaned over and asked me if I was writing a restaurant review. Not once, in all the months that I’ve been going to the French Café in my town, has anyone ever asked me what I was doing while I scribbled away. Smiling, I told him that I was simply entertaining myself while waiting for my breakfast, adding that restaurant critics usually “perform” in secret.

At his thoughtful nod, my food was delivered and I dug in.  Not that it matters a bit, but those hash browns were worth writing–well, I mean waiting for.

19 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Sweet, I can picture it all, and just about smell those hash browns!

Jan Morrison said...

Heaven - the whole post - the smells, the light, the curious guy. I love it!

Robyn Campbell said...

Nice post. Uses all my senses.I can even hear you scribbling. And see inside the eatery.

And the hash browns? Yum. I'm going to have to fix some for breakfast right now. :)

Tabitha Bird said...

LOVE this! I am usually the jogger. But tomorrow morning I am going to go have breakfast out. You have inspired me.

Helen Ginger said...

You realize if a review of the cafe comes out any time soon, he will smile to himself and feel validated.

Wait a minute! Where's the picture of those hash browns?

Piedmont Writer said...

There was a restaurant like that down in Padam Aram I would truck out for every once in awhile.

You know, I think I'm going to have to stop reading you, you make me so homesick. Kidding.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nothing wrong with hashbrowns! And you should've told him yes, you were writing a review.

Justine Dell said...

Hey, when you want something, you go and get it. (Yummy hashbrowns!) Writing was a plus to that. ;-)

~JD

glnroz said...

You did that on purpose,,,,making me want some hashbrowns, but more than that.. be somewhere else besides this durn desk,,:) drooling here...

jbchicoine said...

I'm with Glenn, on the drooling, but here I am stuck at home on Domestic Day--as if there even were a place like that within 30 miles of here!

Simon C. Larter said...

I <3 hash browns. They're a totally worthy reason to get up early in the morning. Aaannnd now I want hash browns. *sigh*

Pam Torres said...

I love your voice. I am still trying to get to all the compelling character blogs. Glad I found you. I haven't ever had anyone ask me about my scribbles but I have gotten a few weird looks.

Robin said...

Thanks for the adventure. And the hash browns. That is as close to eating hash browns as I have come in ten years. You could have written about the flavor a bit more. I am allergic to potatoes, so all potato experiences are vicarious for me. I am telling you this so that next time you can amp up the eating experience when writing about the taters. Still, it was a pretty awesome post.

Tamika: said...

What a great idea! I never thought just to take notes of observation, that could be a real gem:)

Jen Daiker said...

I'm with Bish, I can smell the awesomeness from here!!!!!!!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh my word, I'd give anything for a dish of salty, crispy hash browns right now. Throw a fried egg and some ketchup on top, and I'd probably cry a little bit.

How cool that someone actually asked you what you were writing. Nobody ever asks me that. Maybe I don't have that writer's look. Or maybe you have a look about you that scremas "restaurant reviewer."

Tara said...

Beautiful post. I'd have been up only for the hashbrowns as well ;)

Catherine A. Winn said...

I relished this post today and felt like I was right there observing everything:)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

:::giggle::: library day means something else to me. It means somehow getting all 3 of my children-under-the-age-5 into the car and to the library before storytime at 9:30am, just so I can stand with the baby in my arms and hiss at my 2 boys for 30 min. before we pile back into the car and leave. yeah. I hope I'm instilling a love of books in them, lol.