Food Secrets from the Writing Studio and Bait Shop

Posted on January 10, 2012


Regular readers know that I am passionately fond of excellent treats.  Real-life friends know that, too, and also know that every now and then I must have a Pearl’s fix.  Corn chowder, or maybe gumbo.  Plantation platter.  Golden margarita.  (January 2012 details to follow.)

Guide Fish - Pearl's, Elk Rapids

But hardly anyone outside of Family knows this secret.

I have a brother-out-law who is an honest to goodness chef.  Franklin Biggs (no apostrophe) used to have a restaurant called Franklin’s Homewood Gourmet, on account of it was in Homewood, Alabama, USA, which is coincidental in itself, but then all sorts of life-changing things happened and Franklin sold the place to his loyal staff (so it is now simply Homewood Gourmet) and embarked on a voyage of exploration.  These days he writes a column for the Birmingham, Alabama newspaper, and has a TV segment on—and I am really embarrassed to admit this—the FoxNews station in the aforementioned Birmingham.  I am, of course, on his email distribution list, on account of he knows and loves Rob the Firefighter and that is all it takes to be on my Good List Forever.  Besides, I love Franklin.  Knowing you as I do, I am pretty sure you will like this link to his  column about . . . Nutella.  It is exactly what you would expect from a brother-out-law of mine.

Back in the day, when we lived in Detroit, his father and I took Rob the Firefighter on many interesting adventures.  Partly this was because we felt it was in his best interest.  Partly this was because we really liked doing this sort of thing.  One weekend we took RTFF to Italy.

Not that Italy—there was no way we could afford to go to that Italy, are you kidding?—but the Italy that lived, in those days, on the east side of Detroit, Michigan, USA, out along East McNichols.  We took the firefighter-to-be to Alinosi’s ice cream parlor.  We took him to Italian grocery stores, delis, and gelato stands.  We took him to places that sold pasta in every imaginable shape, including the shapes of Star Wars figures, by which you know this whole thing had to be post-1977.  (That I did not blog of it tells you that it was also pre-2008.  You see how this historical research inference thing works?)

Franklin the beloved BOL says that Nutella was not introduced to these shores until 1983.  I am, however, pretty darned sure that RTFF was younger than he would have been in 1983 when we went to the grocery stores on the east side of Detroit, Michigan, USA, and discovered Nutella and exotic shapes of pasta.  I’m thinking that Detroit was way ahead of the rest of the crowd when it came to Nutella.  (We also knew about pita bread and hummus and baba ghanoush and mjdara and rice pudding with rosewater and pistachios before the rest of the country, but I digress.)

You never can tell what wonderful discoveries lurk in the hidden nooks and crannies of your very own hometown.  Or someone else’s hometown.  Doesn’t really matter, does it?  Because the whole point is the surprise of it all.  The sheer, audacious presentment of Something New and Delicious.  (I had the most wonderful Indian picnic in the airport in Birmingham UK of all places.  Honestly, you never can tell when you will stumble upon a generous and benevolent universe filled with excellent treats.  No blog post.  Also pre-2008.)

Once upon a time I was hiking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with an audacious bunch of women who loved three things: hiking, quilting, and treats.  We landed, famished, at the Rumely Store.  There on the shelves in the middle of Back-of-Beyond I spotted tortillas, bagels, and pita pockets next to the Trenary Toast.  In the middle of the U.P.!!  The world is becoming more delicious every day.  Revel in it.

Rumely Grocery, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, c. 2002