We live in a small town and, while there are some good restaurants, the choices for dining out are, shall we say, limited. It has become a Friday ritual to meet some friends downtown for drinks, then launch into a discussion about where to eat dinner. It takes about 5 minutes to run through the list of local dining establishments and we usually settle on one of them*, but we sometimes get adventurous or desperate and go to to eat in a nearby town (or occasionally all the way to Minneapolis). And we talk about memorable meals we've eaten in far-flung places. Each year we buy a meal at a fundraiser for the Arts Guild or the Historical Society. These are donated by local gourmands and prepared in their homes. Moroccan, Irish. It's fun.
So I started working on a long boring food essay that may or may not appear here someday. In the meantime, here's a little poem on the subject.
The neon sign blinks
its slow rhythm
the light from inside falls on the snow
and the smell -- the smell is amorphous
it is the smell of food
but not a food
it is an admixture that evokes hazy memories
of meals enjoyed long ago
the smell and the memories are pleasant, uncertain,
People leave, talking quietly, sharing a laugh
Others enter hurriedly
drawn by the steam and the neon and the warmth
and the smell
I wait for you on the corner
anxious for the mingling of smells
* In reference to the paucity of choices, one of our number said last week "Sometimes I hate this town." That sounds harsh, but it isn't. It's just...true.