Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bloat Trekker, take 2

I'm on another relatively tight deadline, this one for a feature on the declining population of aspen trees in northern Arizona. So Wednesday may be largely blog-free, though I invite you to check out any of the blogs listed in the 19 Minutes sidebar, or click on the "next blog" button at the top of the page, and enjoy an engaging page dedicated to discount auto parts, or dating angst, or one that's written in Portuguese (and may be about auto parts or dating angst, for all I know).

But in rereading last night's post on unusual foods enountered while traveling, it dawned on me that there was one glaring omission. Megan McCormick and the other folks on Globe Trekker may have eaten scorpions, bats, and other odd delicacies. But unless I've missed an episode, the show has never featured a trip to southeastern Missouri. (Backpacking in Vietnam? Yes. Railroads in the south of France? Absolutely. Driving a VW Golf through Cape Girardeau? Hmmm.) And that's a shame, because they've never earned their combat pay with a trip to Lambert's Cafe in someplace called Sikeston, Missouri.

The food is nothing that most Americans wouldn't recognize - burgers, fries, sandwiches - that sort of thing. Rather, it's the delivery system that's somewhat unconventional. My wife and I had the occasion to attend a wedding rehearsal dinner there some years back. The billboards for Lambert's started materializing miles before the thriving metropolis of Sikeston, and advertised it as the "Home of Throwed Rolls". We expected this unusual adjective to describe something in the food preparation process. But, as it turned out, it described Lambert's unusual policy of throwing dinner rolls at its paying customers. At the same time, no one ever explained its unusual (and slightly bumpkin-like) use of the term "throwed", which you can't say without sounding like you have a stuffed-up nose.

Frankly, judging by the restaurant's popularity (there are now two other Lambert's Cafes in the south), it's surprising that Chez Panisse hasn't adopted a similar food service concept. In fact, it's a little-known fact that the reason New York's Russian Tea Room closed was the reluctance of its owner to bow to public pressure and begin throwing wedges of lemon at the hoi polloi.

On the bright side, it's probably a good thing there's not a restaurant known as the "Home of the Throwed Scorpions."

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