On a Wednesday at 11:23, the clientele at Mill Northeast include an older scholarly-appearing woman wearing round glasses, diligently correcting or editing papers in her booth. At the counter sits a long-haired man wearing a hoodie advertising a local film company. Alongside this “larger than life” guy is a long-haired woman. They engage in lively conversation. On the counter next to the man rests an interesting black case with a large silver cross on the lid. It resembles a briefcase but the dimensions are smaller and the case is taller. In a booth near, me two guys are having a meeting, perhaps a job interview, as the younger guy can be overheard presenting his credentials as an engineer. Nope. It actually seems that younger guy is selling something, a service maybe. The older man uses the phrase “alpha product.”
On the menu is a veggie burger, always my favorite, but given the recent question from a reader, ‘why on earth would you order a veggie burger at Bonicelli?’ (see previous post), I decide to eat outside my box and order the caprese beet salad. It is constructed of house-pulled mozzarella, beets (obviously) both gold and red, crushed pistachios, a bed of arugula, topped with a balsamic glaze, and garnished with olive oil powder. Tasty, tasty! In my perfect world a nice plate of salad would always be served with a nice piece of bread. Yes?
The atmosphere is pleasantly noisy, and the comfy interior is nothing fancy. I ponder the original function of the building, as it has the look of being repurposed, like a garage turned into a man cave. Perhaps it was a drive-in with indoor seating? I ask Sara(h), the very nice server, and yes, she confirms that it began life as a Porky’s. Cha-ching!
Observing a burger being served to one of the business meeting people, I notice that the accompanying fries look fabulous–golden, skin-on. Yup. I do love a good fry, and briefly consider asking the guy if I can try one, but didn’t want to disturb their conversation about “food modeling,” another interesting phrase.
Today’s lunch is earlier than usual. At 1:00 I will attend a funeral in St. Louis Park. In addition to writing, I work part-time as a hospice spiritual counselor. In addition to that, I freelance for funeral homes in planning and leading services. This leads me to spend a lot of time with dying people and at funerals. You might see this as odd or gloomy. Someone once said of my hospice work, “Well, I guess someone has to do it”, as if it was a vaguely distasteful endeavor. It is interesting to observe how people can be appalled by death, which in truth, is every bit as natural, if not as cheerful, as birth. But these feelings provide much of the raison d’etre for my role with patients and families. Being invited to share in an experience as intimate and tender as death is a huge privilege.
From the book of Ecclesiastes, following on the famous passage about everything having its season*, we read: What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He (sic) has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.
Until next week from Las Colonia, enjoy all that comes your way!
* Used by Pete Seeger as the text for “Turn! Turn! Turn!, the number one hit for The Byrds in December of 1965. The exclamation points are in the title.