2019-12-04 20:20:00 (UTC)

Prompt 051: Lunchtime

[This is the beginning of prompts based on "The Afternoon"]

51. The best part of the afternoon is often lunchtime. What are your top three lunches and why? Is there anyway you could make them even better? Why or why not?

Very recently, I took a vacation to an east coast tourist destination. It's an oceanside town that sucks in as much as it can during the typical tourist season, only to exhale it as slowly and carefully as possible between mid-Autumn to early Spring. My favourite time to visit there has been during the off-season, and I've learned quite a bit about real life by going to this kind of place when it's mostly empty.

Meanwhile, this prompt is asking me about what I like to eat for lunch... So I'll discuss my typical meal plan for when I was at the shore.

I would wake up with the sun, as the blackout curtains in the hotel room didn't stop the sunrise from streaming in the doorway that led to the balcony. Very often, however, I'd stick around the hotel until I was ready to go to brunch: sometime round 11am. I figure that was close enough to lunch for me to discuss it here.

At the shore there are a number of restaurants I like to call, "pancake joints." These are the kinds of places that focus on carb-heavy breakfast foods, some of which sell breakfast all day long, like an IHOP. Personally I'm a big fan of pancakes, and whenever I visit the shore I visit several of these types of places, several days in a row, sometimes more than one in a day, until I can't fathom the thought of eating yet another plate full of pancakes for a meal.

My current pattern is to order pancakes with some kind of fruit in or on them, with a cup of coffee and a bowl of fruit on the side. Although the pancake part of the meal is highly variable in terms of quality and flavor, it's this second item that by far has proven to be fantastic every time.

There was one place in particular that served "crepes and omelettes." Not pancakes. Of course, I had learned this only after setting down at a table. I typically cannot enjoy crepes, as they're usually too thin and lack the texture I like. This place was no different. I ordered a savory crepe with tomatoes, spinach, maybe mushrooms, and melted mozzarella. But it was the bowl of fruit that had me slavering for more.

Sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Maybe a couple small grapes thrown in there, too. Absolutely fantastic...! The crepe was literally forgotten (even after liberally doused with black pepper to spruce it up a bit). It just didn't have a chance when compared to the quality of the fruit they served, and the size of the serving I was given. If I go to that place again, I reckon I'll skip the crepe and instead double-up on the bowl of fruit. It was that damn good. ...Or maybe it was a case of the side dish shining in comparison to a lackluster entree. I'm not certain.

Another unforgettable experience was my first taste of sweet potato pancakes. I went to a more traditional pancake joint, and when I saw them on the menu, I was piqued and had to try them. Again, not a disappointment. Fantastic colour, with a mild and pleasant sweet potato flavour. I had butter on them (I "cheated" my typical vegan diet for this trip, for the sake of convenience) but I didn't see the need for pancake syrup. Soft, with a fantastic taste, served hot. The black coffee was impressive too. Their own fruit bowl made a good meal outstanding.

For my final lunch to reminisce about, I figure I should also mention a tradition. Whenever I take a long trip by car, and happen to pass by a Waffle House, I am compelled to partake. When going to the shore in particular, I make it a point to follow a route (which I know well, by this point in my life) that passes conveniently nearby a Waffle House (meaning I literally pull over from the drive and right into a parking spot).

Thing is, I go to Waffle House not for their waffles, but for their potatoes. A double order of home fried potatoes, with onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and mushrooms. If I feel like bending my rules, I might have cheese on them, too. A liberal splashing of A1 sauce and ketchup, and some black pepper sets them up just right. There's a black coffee on the side. When I'm feeling sassy, I take a side of cinnamon raisin toast liberally splashed with their melted butter.

Their menu is woefully incomplete, as they have no bowl of fruit. But I'll deal. Being able to chat with friendly servers while wolfing down my home fries is good enough. Regardless of my bill, I always tip at least $5, close to doubling what they charge me.

Waffle House is like that club for the cool kids I always wanted to be part of in my youth, like that other clique of kids my age that did their own thing. Whenever I belly up to a Waffle House, they treat me courteous enough, but since I don't obviously resemble a huntsman or a military veteran, I have the feeling I'm always seen as an outsider. So I play the part of a polite houseguest, stay infallibly gracious, and look forward to my next excuse to visit.

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