Harvest and Honey

An open-ended love letter, culinarily inspired.


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the liquid generation

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The hum of hungry, progressively caffeinated patrons. Chairs scooting around on floors. Partially used butter and jelly tubs strewn across tables. Syrupy smudged fingerprints from small, eager hands. The crack of an egg. The flip of a flapjack. The waiter or waitress paused, pad and pen at the ready, about to take the next order. 

“What’ll it be ma’am?”

“I’ll have the ginger-carrot-apple juice, with a boost of ginseng please. And also a coffee. Actually, I’ll do a decaf latte … I already had two cups before we got here.”

“Mmm hmm. And for you, sir?”

“I’ll just have a cup of black tea if you’ve got it. I think I’d also like to try your wheatgrass tonic and a large orange juice. And a coffee to go – black – but extra, extra hot. Can you do that? Like   s c r e a m i n g   hot?

“You got it. I’ll put those drink orders in for y’all and be back with your waters.”

 

 Name your restaurant. Name your town. Name your decade, even. The weekend breakfast rush probably looks and feels and smells and sounds almost exactly the same, no matter where your map dot may be and no matter what year it might say on the calendar. That is, of course, with one glaring exception …

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soda jerk

Fresh Grapefruit, Blackberry & Vanilla Bean Sodaimage4(7)image3(8)Fresh Grapefruit, Blackberry & Vanilla Bean Soda

I muttered my lame excuse over and over again in my head. I supposed it was more believable and certainly more original than the age-old, “my dog ate my homework” bit. It was Friday. The school day had ended with bells on, ringing throughout the building … letting us know that yet another day had drawn to a close. The hallways were emptying at the typical fever-pitched speed, as hoards of teenagers filed out of the building and into the awaiting weekend. Not me though. No, at that exact moment to which I refer here – on that sunny, Fall Friday afternoon – I was standing awkwardly in the doorway of my high school History classroom, nervous and panicky, my sweaty hands gripping the pitiful remains of what was supposed to be my big term paper – of what HAD been my big term paper, prior to the unfortunate incident in the cafeteria that afternoon.

Oh hi, Lauren! Come on in. Got a paper for me? You can just put it there on the edge of my desk …

Oh, I like you. I thought to myself. You’re nice. Please have mercy on me. He was one of the nicest teachers I’d ever had, actually. With oversized glasses and an impressive collection of sweater vests, I’d been amused by the way he tapped his knuckles on the blackboard when he was really enthused about a particular bit of information that he was sharing with us, me and the rest of my 2nd period classmates. The tapping would start slow and then build up to a veritable frenzy by the time he’d finished explaining whatever it was, and it was both endearing and distracting all at the same time. I looked down at the grayed and somewhat sticky pile of stapled papers I was holding, and instinctively loosened my grip so as to not crumple or crease the edges. Silly me, I thought. The papers had already met their unfortunate and premature demise when I’d clumsily knocked over a can of Coke right on top of them in the lunchroom that day. Soaking right though all 10 pages, the soda had caused the ink to run, fade and smear all over the place, rendering the whole thing useless. It looked more like a Rorschach test than a paper on the Franco-Prussian War.

When I was in high school, we couldn’t just magically beam our files up into the cloud, sending them to anyone anywhere in the world in an instant … free of staples and paper waste. I’m not saying the internet didn’t exist yet – I’m not that old – but no one did those kinds of things yet. You typed up a hard copy of your work and turned it in, live and in living color … right on the edge of your teacher’s desks.

Unless, of course, you spilled an entire can of soda on them. Then things got a little more interesting. Continue reading


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barfly

Homemade Moonshine Hot SauceSpicy Roasted Chicken with Boozy Hot Sauce

“Poor old fool,” thought the well-dressed gentleman as he watched an old man fish in a puddle outside a pub. So he invited the old man inside for a drink. As they sipped their whiskeys, the gentleman thought he’d humor the old man and asked, “how many have you caught today?”

The old man replied, “You’re the eighth.” – from A Prairie Home Companion

Homemade Moonshine Hot Sauce

“They call ’em the flyover states because no one wants to spend any time in ’em, you see, they’re just for driving through and flying right on over, you know?” He motioned with his hand in mock airplane fashion, making a whoosh! sound as it passed in front of my face. I do the same thing to my son when I’m trying to get him to eat something. Open wide! Here comes the airplane … 

I was perched at a relatively empty old bar in DC, waiting for a friend to join me and trying my best to appear intentional in my lonesomeness. The man sitting catty-corner from me, just across the worn corner of the old wooden bar, had scooted his bowl of half-eaten peanuts to me as he carried on about the merits of coastal city living, wondering why anyone would want to live in the so called “flyover states.” Originally from Oklahoma, he’d moved to DC two decades ago, raised two kids and didn’t give two flying leaps about the fact that he’d left his home in the literal dust. Where’d you say you were from again? He’d asked me, swirling his whiskey around in its glass and circling back to the question that had kickstarted the conversation in the first place.

Indiana.

Oh, right. Sorry. Continue reading