The Send-Off

Mom makes the good point that a restaurant with a very regular clientele does itself a disservice by feeding its patrons complete crap day in, day out, and that the proprietors might do well to think about serving food that will less likely shorten the lives of those that eat it. The White Kitchen in Olathe, CO, serves classic American diner food: greasy eggs with margarined white toast and High Fructose Corn Syrup-flavored jelly, burgers complete with fries and a soda, blue plate specials like patty melts and chicken fried steak. They serve a side ‘salad’ that is iceburg lettuce, onions and croutons. Mom, being Mom, imagines aloud what an improvement to the health and longevity of the White Kitchen’s dedicated patrons a few carrots a day would make, and then muses that the cook would be disappointed by seeing all of the carrots come back to the kitchen uneaten.
I’m thinking about health and love and stuff this week, and especially now, as I’m on the plane from Germany to home to help celebrate the life and mourn the death of a favorite cousin and travelling-and-eating companion. I got up at 4:00 to finish packing and head to the airport. The world’s greatest flatmate got up, assessed my packing situation in a glance and got out a bigger suitcase, and went off to make us an espresso. He also packed the following sandwich, which I ate at the airport while thinking about the poor sops eating chicken fried steak every day at the White Kitchen:
• Good dark brown German bread. The kind that is dense but not dry, with little seeds in it. I love this because it really tastes like food (fuel for your body, as the German would say,) and because the pieces are relatively small and thin but somehow don’t crumble;
• Thick slices of fairly ripe Camembert. This is delicious stuff, was room temperature on the sandwich, and pairs surprisingly well with:
• A lot, and I mean a lot, of the German version of Marmite. It’s called Krauten-something because it has herbs in it (not green flecks, just enough to be a little different.) It’s strong and funky like Marmite, but runnier, and it gets really sweet when it oozes all over the Camembert and bread.
This sandwich tasted like joy. It was sweet and salty and creamy and toasty, it was wrapped carefully enough to withstand airport security, it was a recipe that Tobias’ beloved grandmother taught him. It made me feel good: cared for, nurtured, treated well, as though my health and wellness were important to the sandwich maker.
I can’t really expect the White Kitchen to break out the Marmite, or start right in serving kale at lunch, but Mom’s right – a couple of carrots a day might make a world of difference.

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