June 7, 2011

Swindled

When we moved from a Columbus suburb to what we lovingly refer to as "the boondocks," "the middle of nowhere" and "BFE," it took us a while to venture out. There isn’t much around here except your standard fast food fare and the occasional locally-owned restaurant, and this was, frankly, kind of a bummer.

But we’re not a couple who cooks much (frankly, we’re lazy), and one can only eat so many Lean Cuisines before breaking down one’s door in search of ANYTHING that hasn’t been flash-frozen. But where to go? How to keep our money in the community vs. padding the coffers of Mssrs King and McDonald?

Enter: The local greasy spoon. Every community has one. Yes, the floor is dirty. Yes, there are trophies on the wall, covered in dust, from softball championships won 20 years ago by pot-bellied, mutton-chopped locals. Yes, the menus are covered in cracked, curling plastic that’s brown around the edges.

And yes, the food is mostly fried.

{Insert Homer Simpson drool-moan here}

It took us a while, but we found our greasy, dirty, fried-food-having haven. We’d go about once a month and bask in the goodness that was their burgers, onion rings and 24/7 breakfast. The owner was a grizzled, surly old man who sported perpetual five-o’clock shadow and growled things like, “Hell, no – I hate that bitch,” when we asked him if he bought his meat from the local butcher.

It was everything we’d dreamed of and more.

Said owner, grizzled and surly as he was, took great pride in the fact that he made most of the food himself, and was forever trying to get us to eat his famed homemade desserts. “You know you want some!” he’d bark at us every time, describing his from-scratch chocolate cake and homemade pies before finally surrendering our check when we pleaded overstuffed bellies.

One Friday night, after sharing a booth with our neighbors (ambience provided by the requisite trophies and plaques from the early 90s and some novelty hot sauce bottles), the owner gave us his usual dessert song and dance routine. “Caramel apple nut pie,” he said in a voice I’m sure he thought was seductive. It wasn’t. But the description of the pie was.

“What the heck,” K and I decided. We’d split a piece of caramelly-appley goodness, warmed up just a little, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

The first bite was a revelation. Cinnamon-spiced apples, just the right amount of sweet and tart. Caramel drizzled along the top and popping up every so often in the middle of a bite. Roasted walnuts breaking up the sweetness and adding some crunch. And the crust. Oh, Angels of Pie, the crust. Buttery, light, just the right amount of crumbly.

It was a masterpiece.

We were in awe of this man, with his wild white hair and eternal scowl and, apparently, culinary genius. (True to form, when we confirmed that he made the crust itself from scratch, he said, “Honey, I do everything in this place except the customers. Heh heh heh…” Ew.)

K and I bought the rest of the pie on the spot and spent the next two weeks telling anyone who was listening that the next master pie chef was wasting away in rural Ohio, serving home fries to Nascar enthusiasts.

My best friend, B, swayed by my tales of confectionery wonderment, decided she wanted to try the homemade pie firsthand. She raved about the (admittedly amazing) burgers and onion rings, and when it was time for the pièce de resistance, she nearly melted into the scratched-up vinyl of the booth.

“This is the best pie I’ve ever had!” she exclaimed to our waitress. “Do you think I could buy the rest of the pie so I could take it to work with me? My coworkers would love this.”

The old crusty man wasn’t working that day, so there was some confusion about how much one charges for a whole pie. We waited patiently while our waitress worked it out with the cook on duty. Pretty soon, the waitress emerged from the back, holding this in her outstretched arms:



B and I looked at each other, dumbstruck.

“Wait,” I said to the waitress. “So he BUYS these pies?”

“Yep!” she said, completely clueless as to why my face was turning redder by the second. “I need to ask him where he buys these – they’re SO good, right?”

Yes. They are SO good. And apparently the only people I have to thank for that is "Chef Pièrre" and the good folks at Sara-freaking-Lee.

11 backtalk:

Sarah said...

bwahahahaha!

Sarah said...

oh, and yes...that does sound delish!

wrestling kitties said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Oh my gosh.....that is actually hilarious! I wonder if ALL his desserts are bought and not homemade. CRAZY old man!

Does this change your feelings on the food he "makes" or will you still eat there and enjoy the store bought desserts?!

Have I told you that I LOVE the way you tell stories :)

the grumbles said...

bahahahahahaha! oh no old guy, you just got sold down the river!

Summer said...

Ahhahahahaha. That is so funny. What a great story to tell and retell!

Iris Took said...

Amazing story!

I was also drooling at the description of the pie.

Trophy Life said...

hee heeheeeeheee heeeeeheee!!! (Summer already stole my usual "Ahhahahahahaaaha!!"). that is freaking hilarious. i love it.

Written Permission said...

WK: We DO continue to go there -- I wish I could say otherwise, but T loves their breakfast, and the burgers and onion rings are ridiculously good. Although who knows -- maybe he gets them from freaking Burger King. :) But I have a really hard time looking him in the eye without wanting to smack him on his grizzled white head.

Amber said...

That is hilarious!

Ky • twopretzels.com said...

Best. Post. EVER.

I loved reading this. LOVED IT. (AHH! I miss you.)

That man needs to be run over by one of this nascar enthusiasts.

Wow.

(Love the label, "Lying liars.")

Shannon said...

Hahahahaha - I swindle my family every time they come over to dinner.

The only thing I can make from scratch are nails on a chalkboard. *bah dum ching*

(New to your site from Two Pretzels - definitely going to follow along)

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