Monday, February 4, 2013
Food shapes our experiences and connections to place. Favorites dot not only our physical landscape, acting like familiar faces in the sometimes crowded scenery of our daily rush, but our mental landscape as well. Just knowing those favorites are out there, even if you don't indulge often, can offer comfort.
As a college student in Ann Arbor, one of my favorites was Drake's Sandwich Shop. Scoring a red-and-white striped paper sack full of chocolate cordials was a welcome break from studying. And it also forged a connection to my parents. Mom and Dad met on campus in the 1940s and would frequent Drake's for a game of bridge between classes. Knowing that I walked where they walked, sat where they sat, and likely enjoyed the same foods linked us over time in what seemed like parallel universes.
Photo by Jim Rees
Later, when I moved back to Ann Arbor after time away for grad school, I knew I could count on a pain au chocolat from Zingerman's Bakehouse, a chocolate cheesecake square from Dough Boys, homestyle Indian food from Earthen Jar, or ginger tea from Kana. And when I moved back to Traverse City in 2001, I missed these places. In fact, I still do.
Moving back to my hometown was an odd mix of the familiar and the new. I was glad to see Bardon's Wonder Freeze still in operation on the corner of Front and Garfield, where it's been serving up ice cream since 1950.
I remember making regular visits as a kid with Dad. I'd get a chocolate cone and he'd order a tin roof sundae. He never used the word sundae though. "Tin roof" was enough for those in the know, and sounded very adult to me. It reminded me of his story about eating "shit on a shingle" while in the navy. Another in-the-know term, but for something far less tasty.
Dad is gone now, but there's comfort in visiting places that remind me of our time together, and that prompt stories I can share with my son about the grandpa he doesn't know. Other businesses are no longer around. Dill's Olde Towne Saloon, where I waited tables for several summers with the Golden Garter Revue as a backdrop, had morphed to Boone's and now, into the Blue Tractor. And the cider and donuts at Underwood Farm Market have given way to the wines of Black Star Farms Old Mission.
What would become the new favorites of the adult me?
In a series of upcoming posts, I'll share with you some of my local favorites; places or products that I count on. I may not visit often (or I just might!), but I know these special treats are out there, waiting for me. And that makes me feel at home.
I'd also love to hear what you count on. What are your favorites?
Filed under Favorites