Lunch was at Cracker Barrel today. That’s right, Cracker Barrel; the faux country restaurant chain littered along Eisenhower’s interstate highways. I wonder if Ike would have pushed his vision had he known its impact on American eating habits? Now, you might think I’d like Cracker Barrel since I write about baking cornbread and cooking beans. And normally I don’t mind eating there, especially if it’s a toss between Cracker Barrel and McDonalds. After all, for a bit over 5 bucks, I can get a bowl of beans and turnip greens, a couple corn muffins and some ice tea. That’s not a whole lot more than a big hamburger, fries and a coke. But today, I didn’t want to eat at Cracker Barrel. I was in Lansing, our state capital and right down the street from where we had been were several Middle Eastern and South Asian establishments. My mouth was watering for some good ethnic food that’s not normally available here unless I’m in the kitchen. The smells of curry and the taste of spicy hummus were calling my name. But that wasn’t to be.
"You know I don’t like Indian and don’t want to try Middle Eastern," I was informed. "Why don’t we eat at Cracker Barrel, you can get greens," as if I was receiving some great consolation prize.
Disappointed and disgruntle, I slouched into a Cracker Barrel out off I-96. The place was packed. We had to wait a good ten minutes in their kitsch filled gift shop. For 30 bucks, you can buy a complete cornbread kit including a square cast iron frying pan (pre-seasoned, none the less), a handy mitt (as if I’d need another), some mix, and a recipe booklet. I passed. You can also get all kinds of American trinkets, out-sourced to China no less, and enough sugary candy to pay for my dentist’s boat. I was boiling. We were finally sat at a table with a waitress who couldn’t seem to understand why I wanted to put hot vinegar (instead of plain vinegar) on my greens. Steam began to come out of my ears. I even ignored those brainteaser games found on every table in the chain. I’m sure you know the kind, where you jump golf tees in order to discover whether you’re a genius or a bumbling idiot. Today wasn’t my day to try it. I was already feeling like the bumbling idiot.
Okay, now I’ve let off steam… maybe I can sleep soundly tonight.
On another note, the snow tonight is beautiful. As it does when it’s really cold and the snow is crunchy, it looked like there were diamonds embedded in the snow.