Friday, December 15, 2017

Filled with the Spirit: Part 2

Andromeda Crab stumbled out of the alley into the blinding light of the morning sun.  She was still hungover, still being torn apart inside, and insatiably hungry.  These three driving forces were pushing her into divergent directions: To lay down, to shout from the mountaintops, and to eat the largest breakfast the nearest diner could serve her.  She didn't know which way to proceed so she looked around her for the easiest goal to accomplish.  In front of her stood an old brick building which read ShoeHorn's FlapJackStack and she knew which of her three pressing needs would be addressed first. The small bell on the door rang as she pushed through the door and smelled the comforting aroma of a hot griddle, potatoes, and fat.  The place was small with a line of booths against the wall to the right and the bar running down the middle facing the kitchen against the left wall.  The 5 or so diners were face down in their meals and the air was filled with sizzle, clink, and chew.  Andrea was frozen, standing in the doorway, in a dream of comforting satiation when the smell of roasted coffee beans filled her nostrils and she sat down at the farthest booth and opened up a menu.

"Coffee will do the trick nicely", mumbled Andrea under her breath and started riffling through the listing of local fare.

A note for travelers wondering this great nation.  Consuming breakfast at a local establishment is a treasured tradition among all classes of Ustations.  Depending on your geographical location and the desire for the local denizens to live in safety and comfort will generally dictate at what sort of establishment they will break their morning fast.  In high-falooting circles this meal is often referred to as brunch.  Brunch is generally considered a wonderful opportunity to not only eat very small portions of artistically arranged food but, more importantly, an excuse to drink alcohol with breakfast.  Since Brunch is a combination of two separate meals there is a premium for this convenience and eating your breakfast and lunch together will usually cost you 3 times what it would have cost you to eat them separately, but again...alcohol.  The working class will usually opt for establishments which can be described as holes-in-the-walls, local joints, and greasy spoons.  These, like the one Andromeda is currently eating at, tend to be smaller operations and tend to have, in fact, greasy spoons.  They are not places where one "watches one's cholesterol" but tend to avail the customer of an opportunity to consume massive amounts of calories for a low price.  Some of these are exactly what you pay for.  Simply because it has the allure and questionable food hygiene of a diamond in the rough does not mean that it is, in fact, a diamond.  It may just be the rough.  But occasionally a traveler will stumble upon a true treasure where the price of the food does not justify the quality of the meal.  Not everything will be good but something will be excellent.  For example the breakfast sausages served at Rubin's on Loraine Ave in Cleveland, Ohio (although this tends to be the very top crust limit of the greasy spoon sphere as the tables are clean, there is no duct tape on any of the upholstery, and none of the waiting staff seem to billow cigarette smoke from their clothes).  Finally we have the suburban classes.  These breakfast eaters tend to sit in 2 separate categories.  Living in the suburbs generally assumes that one is attempting to cast an illusion of one variety or another over their life and this is reflected in their breakfast choices.  The first grouping will pretend that they are in deed high-falooting themselves and will eat at a suburban brunch location that offers the high prices of a real brunch provider but the convenience of not having to "go to the valley" as it were.  The food quality is not as high but one hardly needs to drive on the freeway to get there.  The second category of suburban diners eats at locations that offer the allure of a local joint without the health and safety violations.  Although one will tend to not stain one's clothing by sitting in a booth at these establishments, the prices will be higher and the food cookie cutter.  The real prize, if you are in one of these chain driven economies, is to find a location that used to be a greasy spoon but has grown into a respectable establishment but is not franchised in any way.  A prime example being The Way Station Coffee Shop in Newhall, California.  At any of these establishments if you are hungry, hungover, tired, and possibly have just completed a journey through both space and time always order something with the word "farmer" in the title and a coffee.

"What do you want, hun?"

"I'll have the Uncle Homer's Farmer's Breakfast...and a coffee." 

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